“We are in an age of unprecedented change, it’s a ‘revolutionary’ time to be alive! The question we need to be asking ourselves is - ‘Am I leading that change?’ I believe we all have a choice to step up into personal, professional and social leadership. We have a choice to become agents for change, amplifiers, thought leaders to upgrade our thinking and lead our very own revolutions.”

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Entries in leadership (25)


Rah Rah! It's not just talk

Leaders today need to go old school. They need to get out from behind their strategy and bring leadership to life.

Motivational leadership is the ability to influence culture and drive change. It’s applied powerfully at home, in communities and organisations everywhere. 

We need leaders who can lead. Leaders who can remove fear and replace it with confidence, remove confusion and replace it with clarity and mobilise us all in pursuit of a better future.

It seems that strategy is failing many as it is almost impossible to create solutions for futures further out than 12-36 months. Make no mistake, strategy is critical, it’s simply not all it’s been made out to be. The idea of motivational leadership trumps strategy every time.

Motivational Leadership (Rah Rah!) is the missing link between what we know we should do (strategy), the willingness to do it (attitude) and getting it done (execution). 
While the principles of Rah Rah are simple, the application of them requires a combination of art, finesse and courage.

One thing though is universally true, you cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without also illuminating your own.


Signal versus Noise

I tend to shut down if people talk too much at me. I am sure it's a form of audio processing overload. In short, I don’t listen very well. Ironic when you consider what I do for a living!

Because of this low tolerance for unnecessary chatter, I have to listen very hard for what is the signal and separate it from the noise. It's like the difference between efficient and effective. An efficient person captures everything in a meeting and effective person captures the things that matter. You can listen to the noise or you can listen to the signal.

Signal is where the productivity and communication boost kick in. Leaders have to be deaf to the noise and tuned into the signal.

  • Noise is when a team member is asking for help on a certain task. Signal is that they want to be paid more.
  • Noise is most of the comments on twitter or facebook. Signal is following an intelligent micro blogger who references interesting stuff in their tweets.
  • Noise is complaining that you get 100 emails a day. Signal is focussing on the 20 that require a response and deleting, delegating or deferring the rest.
Noise is often the words...signal is often the better unsaid message in the words.

Eliminate the noise and track the signal.


Strategies Missing Link

How well is strategy distributed through the organisation? It's the leaders responsibility to take the developed strategies and deliver them with great flexibility into all levels of the organisation.

There are a few steps to this process:

  • Get strategy (assume you have this)
  • Think through the various 'audience' groups who need to hear the strategy
  • Create a variety of ways to deliver the strategy. Not just mechanical means but also conceptual means.
  • The strategy must make sense on the factory floor and the boardroom.
  • Develop capability in your leaders to deliver this.

To do this well, the strategy needs to be turned into a suite of communication pieces.

  1. A keynote TED style 18-minute presentation that outlines the strategy.
  2. A series of simple diagrams that are used when chatting informally about the strategy (these are always drawn and are not on PowerPoint).
  3. A website or intranet (perhaps internal use only), with short videos explaining the strategy.
  4. A white paper that walks through the strategy linearly.

Just to name a few...

This is Speakership - the missing link between strategy and leadership.



What you know and who you know

Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones (US motivational Speaker), once famously said; ‘the key difference between who you are today and who you will be tomorrow are the books you read and the people you meet.'

In the mentor discussion group on Thought Leaders Central recently, the fabulous Michael Henderson (Corporate Anthropologist) shared that he believes we need to see Thought Leaders as both a curriculum and a community.

Our learning curriculum at Thought Leaders is about commercial savvy, in the Million Dollar Expert Program this is very overtly commercial.

So you have to focus on making money (our curriculum) but also hold a focus on relationships (our communities). My father always said (and I believe this is a mindset to challenge), 'don't mix money and friendship'. For me, the kind of people I work with should be the kind of people I like. The alternative is what, 'to work with people you would not be friends with?' Following my dads advice about mixing friendship and money would have me miserable in my work.

My dad was right in a manufacturing widgets sense, but with Thought Leadership, your friends should get your best advice first! I have learned also the hard way, that discounting this (especially to nil) affects the way they receive the advice. It is very much a case of if you get something for free, you don’t commit to getting the full value from it.

Here are some thoughts I have around commerce and community or doing business with friends...
1. If I give things away to people I like, they don't get the value of committing.
2. At some point change the nature of the relationship from overtly commercial to declared intimacy. I stop charging those who become deep friends.
3. If in doubt sell through, not to.

My secret to personal exertion business...

Do business with people you like, talking about things you like, in a way you like. That way going to work is never a chore.



Are your people commercially smart?

I have been thinking a lot lately about how you need to lead clever people to be commercially successful nowadays.

No longer is it about manpower, it’s now all about talent leverage.

Your competitive advantage in the modern world is the quality of your people. It’s definitely about their ability to innovate, the quality of their intellectual property, their engagement levels and skills, and their ability to get increasingly more done with diminishing physical resources.

Several years ago I founded Thought Leaders as a commercial co-operative that serves some of the smartest people on the planet. To date we are well established in Australia and New Zealand and are expanding in 2011 into three other key global markets. The Thought Leaders Movement is a fabulous testing ground for 21stcentury leadership.

Some things I feel you need to do to lead clever people:

  1. Create an organisation that operates more like a circle and less like a triangle.
  2. Make sure you as the leader inspire and engage
  3. Create a clear intent that people can buy into or sell out of
  4. Create a sense of higher purpose (that you will personally stay committed to)
  5. Make sure that success of the whole is contingent on the success of the individuals
  6. Find ways to stay in touch and communicate your key messages
  7. Don’t be afraid to change your mind
  8. Fail fast
  9. Lose some people along the way
  10. Make it about projects over strategy

Leading in the 21st century is a lot looser and is about managing with confidence and clarity when the prevailing conversations are fear and uncertainty. It comes down (I think) to:

  1. Increasing Personal Leadership at all levels.
  2. Enterprising your existing Thought Leadership.
  3. Skilling your people in and creating opportunities for Speakership.

Lead your thinkers...


Matt Church


Care factor 'zero'

There is an old Dale Carnegie saying: It goes - 'people don't care how much you know, 'til they know how much you care'.

Thought Leaders are knowledgeable people, often very objective and analytical around an issue that a business or person may be facing. I try to remember the importance of care factor. Without it, all your smarts, all your IP is completely useless.

My friend and Thought Leader Darren Hill, would tell you it's simply increasing your Humanity.

My dear friend Pete Sheahan, would tell me it's simply being Old School.

My customer experience mate Iven Frangi, would tell you that it's Good Business.

My technology and futurist friend Craig Rispin, would tell you it's being High Touch in a High Tech world.

However you look at it, show you care.

That's why so many profiteering businesses are getting all "do good" with corporate social responsibility and I think it's a great thing. Some may be faking it, but the power of kindness means that before long they'll be making it.

Matt Church


Don't ask turkeys to judge an eagle!

Ok, if you have read past blogs of mine you know I am not a big fan of constructive criticism or 360 degree feedback.

Furthermore I don't think you should run your best ideas past a committee! That can often include co-workers, family members or people on the street.

If you have a great person or a great idea, it sometimes needs to be insulated from the crowd think.

It needs to be held at arms length from the well-meaning good advice of people whose major claim to fame is that they have an opinion.

Solicit an opinion only from those whose opinion you respect.

Don't ever let turkeys judge eagles. It will get messy.



Are you the pigeon or the statue?

I love the saying that some days you're the statue and some days you're the pigeon. I see this as the truth about inspiration. This was brought home to me the other day on a call with a friend. He mentioned that a certain group he was involved in was no longer inspiring him, I not too gently shared this pigeon and statue principle.

Some days, I am inspired by the company I keep and sometimes it's my job to take the leadership role and inspire. To stay permanently inspired by the company you keep is to have a seriously unrealistic expectation of any community.

I should know, I have spent most of my life leaving communities and relationships that don't inspire me, forgetting this golden rule.

Some days you're the statue and some days you're the pigeon.


Listen like a leader

Leadership communication requires you to listen, but at different levels.

  • What someone is saying (content)
  • What they are making that mean (concept)
  • What that is really about (context)
Often you need to understand why someone is so against a project. Or, your message is simply not getting through. Often it is because two people are having conversations that seem to be about the same thing (content) but the meaning they are attaching to it (concept) is vastly different.

Do this:

  1. Develop the habit of listening at the 3 levels
  2. Check that you understand their meaning (state it back to them 'so what you mean is… content 1, content 2 and content 3 equal this (concept a) for you!?). If they say no, then listen harder. If they say yes, then..
  3. Identify what that is really about (context), and address that issue without getting caught up in the content.
  4. Ask them if it is possible to consider that content 1-3 could mean something different (preferred concept b)
  5. Get each party to see the contextual driver for each party and your job as a leader is done.

Matt Church


Leadership styles are old school

Have you heard the school of thought that suggests different leaders have different styles? The autocratic, the empowering, the whatever...

That's so the year 2000 and things have changed. A 21st Century Leader needs to have capabilities, not styles. In a fast changing world you need to adapt and flex your style. To have a signature style that is known by others is to advertise that you lack the ability to adjust fast enough in the modern fast change environment.

To me, a personal leadership style that you live into is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don't name your style, don't have a style, instead, develop your capabilities as a 21st Century Leader.

Here are 16 Capabilities I think the 21st Century Leader at any level needs to develop. Consider this your personal development plan as a leader.

It's not cool to have a leadership style. It's better to have broad capabilities.


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