Hi all AECOM Leaders

It was great to spend some time together at your February event on the Gold Coast.

The feedback I’ve heard is that some of the messaging around leadership resonated with you – That’s great.

So you are all now back working in your day jobs.  

I’d like to ask you what’s changed…………….

  • How exciting have you been to be around this week?
  • Have you been worth following?
  • How have you tried to reduce confusion, fear and apathy?
  • How have you tried to build trust?
  • How optimistic have you been?
  • Is there sparkle in your team’s eyes?
  • Have you changed the way you are running your meetings?
  • Hopefully, there are some examples which come to mind.  If not, there is always next week……………………..

I have put together a few resources which you can download, watch and share.

I trust you will find them of value in your  role.... ENJOY!!  

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Great leaders motivate

Exceptional leaders inspire

Transformational leaders amplify

Amplifiers are the rare and extraordinary leaders who amplify the best in themselves and others. They amplify the messages that matter, amplify the positive mood in a culture and amplify the results achieved. They are the masters of maximising human potential and developing other great leaders. 


The Vacuum

A leadership vacuum is something with which many people can instantly identify. Without anyone in charge things start to get ’real random, real fast’. It creates a massive disengagement as people randomly focus on whatever they want that serves their self-interest. 

It's not unlike the famous William Golding novel Lord of the Flies. This is a story about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results. It explores the already controversial subjects of human nature and individual welfare versus the common good. 

It’s hard for these kids, without some Amplifiers, to care about anything beyond their current selfish world view. This is what Amplifiers do - they help us to see possibilities that we can't see ourselves. They are custodians of better possible futures. They hold a space of belief in what we can do individually and collectively and are able to help align personal interest with common good. All in a gentle, custodial way, as opposed to a superior and controlled way.

You might argue that the boys in Golding’s novel have leaders - the alpha kids that form cabals and hunt down and murder the weaker children. That’s the distinction between leadership alone and amplification. Amplifiers are able to elevate the game; in a way they are shifting the collective consciousness in a particular direction. They have a positive intent to influence.  

In her great book Followership, leadership contrarian Barbara Kellerman makes the obvious statement that each leader needs at least one follower. She goes on to say that the traditional view of leadership should be put to the sword. She argues that with all the massively disrupting social change of the last 10 −50 years, leadership as we knew it is dead or dying. She claims that we need to become less leader-centric and more follower so. 

Amplifiers make the world better for the people personally and at the same time advance collective group goals. Traditional leaders drive strategy and often the people get left behind. Amplifiers know that leadership is personal and that not only do people matter, but focused in the right way they are the difference between success and failure.

The Bad

If you have ever worked for a ’jerk’ you know the detrimental impact a bad leader can have on a group. Nothing saps the energy of good people more quickly than bad leaders. They are the adults who have never grown up. These people somehow work their way through the rank and file and end up in positions of influence. They bully, they blame and they basically allow their personal pathology to drive their leadership behaviours.  Like many dysfunctional personalities they often create unhelpful co-dependent relationships. You will often see a demotivator in some kind of odd power partnership with others whose own personal weakness causes them to align with an ‘idiot in charge’. Its human nature, but it's not our best nature. A bully’s buddy is often as damaging as the bully, for the simple ‘act of affirmation’ they give the bad leader. It causes you at worst to question whether you might have it wrong – “maybe nice guys don't get the corner office?” - or at best to simply give up on trying to do anything about it. These people are below the line, they are not even really on the ladder. 

These 'unleaders' demotivate and create toxic cultures. We might be better off taking our chances with no leader than one of these. We should actively eliminate these people from our teams; ruthlessly educate them to free up their future and go play somewhere else. They are the attitudinal equivalent of toxic waste. The negative impact of anyone’s exposure to them will make for sterile, future generations of productive effort. They kill anything good that's going on within a group.

If you are on the leadership ladder then you are willing to do work on yourself. Amplifiers know that the speed of change within a group is directly proportional to their personal growth. They have the courage to stay open, to keep learning and to shaping who they become as they do. 

Carol Dweck in her book Mindset unpacks the case for what she names 'fixed' versus 'growth' mindsets. She makes a brilliant case for the danger of becoming too rigid in your thinking, too reliant on strengths and talents. She argues that success is more about being able to work hard and develop capability than about having or not having a talent and acting accordingly. 

"People with the fixed mindset have read the books that say: Success is about being your best self, not about being better than others; failure is an opportunity, not a condemnation; effort is the key to success. But they can't put this into practice because their basic mindset--their belief in fixed traits--is telling them something entirely different: that success is about being more gifted than others, that failure does measure you, and that effort is for those who can't make it on talent.

In short, when people believe in fixed traits, they are always in danger of being measured by a failure. It can define them in a permanent way. Smart or talented as they may be, this mindset seems to rob them of their coping resources. When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don't define them"

Amplifiers have a growth mindset and the belief that with hard work and focus many things we think are impossible are actually very possible. Not in a ‘woo hoo’ magical ' you can be anything you want' way, but rather just the expectation that work creates results. Amplifiers not only help people believe more in themselves but also create the environment in which they can become the best possible version of themselves.

I love the idea that Leaders make a difference to the culture in an organisation. The following TED talk by Ben Zander is not only entertaining but I think it speaks to the influence agenda.

Leaders are expected to communicate effectively into a range of situations. The masterful motivational leader in the business context has 6 primary focuses. 

1. Strategic Authoring (Authorship)

Your first job is to understand  and create a plan for achieving the organisations goals. This first dimension is hardly ever a solo pursuit but it is the responsibility of the senior leader to author, craft and design a compelling plan for achieving some desired future. This first domain answers the question 'tell us how we will get where we are going?'

2. Leadership Speaking (Speakership)

Its important that leaders share their vision for the organisation with others. To do this well they need to be able to communicate ideas simply and in a way that inspires others, regardless of the complexity involved in the organisations path. This is about weaving stories and examples of the milestones and next steps required to move forward and progress an organisations goals. It is essentially answering  the question 'tell us where we are going?'

3. Expertise Mentoring (Mentorship)

If leadership is about bringing out the greatness in others then mentoring is the conduit for that function. Mentoring is essentially about knowledge sharing, it's about utilising experience. To do this well, the knowledge in key people is captured, packaged and delivered to others. Mentoring is about answering the question, 'who will lead us?'

 4. Training Capability (Expertise)

It's not the leaders role to develop capability in others but its is their responsibility. Essentially a leader needs people around her who are capable of making well informed decisions. This often requires the embracing of new knowledge or the effective upgrade of existing knowledge. The leader needs to know the gaps and get help to plug them. Learning and development is a leadership tool, too often its delegated at both a strategic and an operational level. A leaders should by all means have others work out a plan but the reasons for the plan and its direction are not up to others. It's a form of resourcing and it answers the request ' can you help us where we need it?'

5. Coach Confidence (Empowerment)

You can't be everywhere and you can't do everything. This simple idea is what lies beneath the leadership coaching function. Coaching is about empowering others, its about replacing fear with confidence and it's about enabling a group to solve problems in a future that has not been experienced yet solving problems with no precedence. Coaching as an idea answers the often unasked but implicit question, 'can you help us believe it's possible?'

6. Facilitate Solutions (Engagement)

Driving a sense of ownership and the desire to work with initiative and autonomy is critical to organisational growth. The best laid plan will go awry if people don't feel that they understand it and their role in it. Facilitation is about creating alignment between departments and divisions. It's also about creating an environment wherein people see how their desires and goals, their values match the groups, their colleagues and the organisation as a whole. Without this a leaders ambitions are unsustainable and in a fast changing world unlikely to be realised.

We suggest you package your leadership messages so that it can be delivered out across all or any of these 6 channels. In the expertise section you learned how to create an IP snapshot of your ideas with three distinct yet aligned components. A content piece, a concept piece and a context piece. You use all three elements when you communicate but one of these three takes priority depending on the channel or mode you are presenting through.

This next video is by Simon Synek it talks about the power of purpose and understanding how to start with why in all your projects and endeavours.

The 3 Domains

Amplification requires a focus on three complementary domains: culture, work and leadership. The role of the Amplifier is to help in the establishment of work worth doing, cultures worth belonging to and leaders worth following. These three areas of focus are complementary and synergistic.

 The three pivotal actions are establishing meaning and motivation so that you can drive results. These are the daily to do's for Amplifiers. It's the Business 101, the challenge is not knowing what to do, but actually making it happen. Under each word on this model lies a whole gamut of theories and practices that will drive success for the leader and for the business.

 

You can see from the model that there is a logical flow from first identifying strategy (1.0) to being able to execute (2.0) that strategy in a way that drives performance (3.0). Sequence is critical. Leaders and cultures need to walk before they run. Initiatives are often deployed out of sequence. The first order of business is to get the group productive (1.0), then to focus on team engagement (2.0) before getting obsessed about innovation (3.0).

 

Too often innovation and performance become the focus when they are actually the goal. It's like four years of training as an Olympian - the Gold medal is the goal, but its not what the athlete focuses on during the 1460 days between Olympics. The athlete needs to work on the critical next actions that will take them to their goal. The swimmer swims, the runner runs. Sure they keep glancing at the goal, but obsessing about the goals is not actually the key to get betting better.

 

It's well documented that any attempt to build an innovation pipeline in an organisation is about having a culture that's ready for it. It’s about organisational structures matching the initiative. It’s the same for performance-obsessed businesses. The action is to execute on strategy - the result will be performance.

 

Imagine a culture with poor engagement trying to deploy an innovation development program. If engagement is low, I don't like my work, then the culture is disenfranchised and cynical. The language becomes, “Why would I share my good idea if my boss is going to steal my idea and make out it was theirs? I am not sharing.” As a result innovation is dead in the water before it's even begun. This makes the case for the synergistic relationship between leadership, work and culture. You can't work on one and ignore the rest.

This final video goes to understanding how to build community and tribe, its really for those who feel like they need to increase engagement in their teams. This is quite challenging for those of you who feel like their team is somewhat institutionalised.