Who are ‘they’ anyway?

“But they said we had no choice!”, I overheard a rather frazzled individual say to another in the reception of a rather large organization. “Turns out we did. It was an unmitigated disaster!”

My client then appeared so I know not how the dialogue continued.

‘They’ seem to be quite a powerful bunch, I couldn’t help but wonder.

When we don’t know who specifically is responsible or accountable, the collective ‘they’ tend to appear with punishing regularity and untold influence.  In the same way that when we’re perhaps anxious about a significant event, we start considering, sometimes unrealistically, what ‘they’ will think.   Do we stop to think who ‘they’ really are? Not always.

The media is currently awash with news about what ‘they’, collective politicians, company executives, did or didn’t, will or won’t do.

When ‘they’ becomes a specific individual, it is so very much easier to make progress and identify who is doing what. Useful when it’s all going swimmingly, even more so when it’s not!

I wonder if those executives at Tesco knew who ‘they’ were , the ones that were supposedly accounting for what was going on financially and should maybe have been accruing more effectively?

They (!) evidently hadn’t come across the salutary little poem ‘Who’s job is it’.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

Do you know specifically who is doing what for you in your organization or personally?

It seems that ‘they’ have a little too much power in the world. Is it timely to start reclaiming some of it back and redressing the accountability and responsibility balance.

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After all when people are given autonomy, generally individuals rise to the challenge and deliver……very, very well. Richard Branson knows this and has recently announced that his employees can choose exactly when and for how long they take a vacation.  Productivity will soar.

People are very able and have names with history and heritage, let’s be specific and perhaps the collective ‘they’ might just start to go away or at the very least have a little less influence.

Have a fantastic week.

Clarity, feedback, football ….and the lure of a V8.

‘Epic! But what was your Mum doing there?’ exclaimed a friend of my daughter’s in barely disguised shock.  ‘She knows nothing about football!’

And so it was, a few weeks backs, I was pinching myself at the UK launch of a long-awaited supercar surrounded by those at the very heart, one might say, of football, past and present and from sport, and the motor industry.  Whilst I perhaps didn’t fully appreciate this until after some stealthy googling, I was indeed in the company of greats; players, managers, coaches, fans and the inimitable Jose Mourinho himself, the new UK ambassador for Jaguar. Image

Having a discussion with the former CEO of a Premier League football club was in itself fascinating and an honour, and a conversation ensued about leadership.  That much discussed topic of leadership in sport and leadership in business. He was telling me about a football coach whose particular modus operandi was of two guiding principles; clarity & feedback. Clarity; what are our goals and aims for the next match and the season, and feedback: in the moment and definitely on the same day.
I’ll be surprised if anyone reading this doesn’t fully agree to being clear and giving clarity and focus at all times, especially when in a position of leadership.  Most recognise the power of feedback and that it works exceptionally well both in sport and business. However, only a minority of companies do this really well, where feedback is a genuine part of their culture and the results speak for themselves in the business, and on the bottom line.

Feedback is often the once a year review (incidentally that’s not feedback),  or it is feared , clumsy and ill-delivered, especially if it’s a difficult message.

With a modicum of practice, feedback can be one of the easiest, least complex and potentially game changing (forgive the pun) tools in your kit as a leader or indeed friend, partner, colleague or team mate.  In this world of complexity, changing markets and an ever-developing customer and consumer, something easy and that works, is surely a good thing.

Feedback at best is clear, honest and specific. It is also frequent.  The aforementioned CEO asked his coach why he always gave his players feedback on the bus on the way back from a game, even if it was difficult. His response, I like to start each day on a high and if that means challenging feedback at the end of the day that the action occurs, so be it.

‘Tis currently the season for company results and if this isn’t a good time for greater clarity and feedback to either grow and learn, or improve and vitalise performance, I don’t know when is.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions, as Ken Blanchard once said, and in the world of football I can see testament to that and perhaps the bridge between leadership in sport and business is closer than we think.

The V8, the stunning F-type R Coupe, metaphorically spoke for itself.  Jose Mourinho, very much his own man, said “I know what I like and I know what I don’t. I like this.”

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Enough said. Clear as day.

And if you’d like a little help with clarity for 2014, you know where we are. If, on the other hand it’s football advice you’re after, I know a man who can!

See you soon.

Warmest regards,

Kate

Are you living or working to Gold Standards?

What a phenomenal achievement; 65 Team GB Olympic medalists, an uplifting and inspiring fortnight and a certain ‘joie de vivre’ around the capital city.  What a lot to celebrate!
Andrew Hunt, CEO of the British Olympic Association has been talking widely about the magic that the immense collaboration and support of our amazing sports men and women has enabled in terms of success and medals.  Yes, they are incredible athletes in their own right however as so many have attested and in some instances in a very moving way, it was also about the team around them.
Be it in sports or in business, it is very well documented that teamwork, collaboration and cohesiveness really does pay dividends and that feeling of being part of a community or something bigger than oneself is part of being human.
Last week I had a meeting in Westminster followed by one near Green Park in London and I decided to walk, as it was a nice day.  Now, this was right in the middle of the Olympic fortnight and my route took me past Buckingham Palace – it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea and might make me late.  It didn’t. It was also a most palpable and memorable experience, there were hoards and hoards of people (they were changing the guard too) but the atmosphere was electric.  There was an immense feeling of camaraderie, support, happiness perhaps and just an enjoyment of being part of something very big and very special.
I met one of the Games Makers (the volunteers who gave up their time to work at the Olympics for free) yesterday and he very humbly said, it was one of the most amazing experiences of his life.  He has traveled the world and sat on the boards of some of the world’s most illustrious companies, so he’s had some experience in his life.
The focus and dedication of the sportsmen and women is just extraordinary, and as many of them have said ‘ if you really want something’ you can. The Team GB women’s hockey players who won bronze medals have talked widely about their pact and commitment to each other some years ago in 2009 to train and live their lives at gold standards.  That’s just what they did and made some monumental sacrifices along the way. They defined their goals, refined along the way and now have the medals to prove it. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.
Great success and achievement comes from hard work, focus, teamwork, tracking progress and celebrating the small stuff and the big stuff along the way. 
So, if gold is what you’re seeking in any area of your life  – are you living or working to gold standards?
Or perhaps we could all take a leaf out of Eric Idle’s book (Olympic closing ceremony) and ‘always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo, de doo de doo.’ Not a bad place to start.