Ten Tips for Leaders

All leaders will develop their own definition of leadership. Mine is simply harnessing the creativity and intelligence of the people that I work with. This definition governs my actions, my behaviours and my leadership style.  I needed to change old behaviours and adopt new  attitudes to lead as I believed.  From this I developed a list of what worked for me and did not work.  Today I share with you the first 10 tips for effective leadership.

To be effective, leaders need to:

  1. Actively work on personal development
  2. Assume that team members act from a place of good intentions
  3. Be humble
  4. Be able to hear a different opinion and not feel threatened
  5. Communicate effectively
  6. Check the motive behind personal thoughts and actions
  7. Give team members the benefit of the doubt
  8. Have a sense of humour
  9. Say sorry or “I was wrong” and not have a meltdown.
  10. Understand personal  level of emotional intelligence

Which of these ten tips resonate with you?  Which of these do not?

P.S. If you want any further explanation on any of the tips, drop me a line and I will give some more details. I will share the rest of the changes that I needed to make next week.

This blog is an adaptation of Lead Your Team to Win (Attong, 2014)

Maxine Attong is the author of two books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead Your Team to Win.  She works with leaders to create more effective and efficient organisations. She is a Keynote Speaker, a Gestalt Organisational  Development Consultant, a Certified Professional Facilitation, and an Evidence Based Coach and a Certified Accountant.

Managing change

I’m pretty good at managing change. I get excited by the prospects of it, I am enthused by the answers to “What if?”, and generally I operate in a state of awe.

There are spells of time when I feel overwhelmed. The anxiety of not knowing coupled with the uncertainty of it all makes me wish for a crystal ball. I throw pity parties, ask “Why me?” and I wallow in self doubt.

Most times it’s OK to sit with these dark and uncomfortable feelings since it’s important to process the feelings. However, when I admit that I’m being self indulgent then I know it’s time to answer the 15 questions.

As I’m dealing with major change in my life I have had to answer the 15 questions ( more than once).  The answers provide a reality check, remind me of the possibilities and help me to manage the change which I cannot stop or control.

  1. How do I keep myself going in this time of change?
  2. What routine can I stick to?
  3. How do I center myself when stuff hits the fan?
  4. What role does my personal vision play at this time of change?
  5. What quality of life do I want when the dust settles?
  6. What is my catastrophic fantasy ( about the change)?
  7. Who can assist me now?
  8. What attitudes do I need to change to get through this?
  9. How can I maintain focus?
  10. What is the role of my beliefs at this time?
  11. How do I keep it all going when my beliefs are challenged?
  12. What dreams can be fulfilled (after the change) that can’t be fulfilled now?
  13. What am I holding on to ( that prevents the change from being an opportunity)?
  14. What do I need to let go of (to embrace the change)?
  15. What will be my joy in this time of change?

Which question resonates with you? How will it assist you in your time of change?

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an accountant.

That’s Hurt #thathurts

A series of unfortunate and weird events occurred over the last two weeks – I received a strange phone call, an unannounced visitor appeared on my porch and I witnessed the deconstruction of a well-worn mask.
Each of these events could have been scripted for reality TV, the contents were juicy, they were inappropriate in context and each could have led to cataclysmic events. Yet they each ended calmly.
Why? Because I responded to each of them calmly. I listened to what was being said, ignored the tones, clarified misperceptions, answered questions honestly and truthfully, and stayed in the moment as the events unfolded.
It’s not that I wasn’t angry. Each event was an intrusion, a violation of sorts, and happened because a man/woman decided to encroach on my sanctity to fulfill his/her needs.
My anger heightened my awareness of what was off-key in each situation and helped me to define boundaries for the other person.
In replaying the scenes I recognized that each person in these unfolding dramas was operating from a position of hurt. I know that
Hurt people make decisions and act from a position of hurt.
Hurt people have singular vision – they see only one dimension
Hurt people wear blinkers – there is no bigger picture
Hurt people are always the victim
Hurt people hurt others
Hurt people want to suck you in to their drama
Hurt people want you to hurt them
Hurt people create opportunities for you to hurt them

How do I know? Because I was once a hurt person, displaying my hurt for all to see.

How do you see the hurt in others and in yourself?

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an accountant.

What is love?

Over coffee, we chatted.  The conversation wended it’s way to love.  What do you mean when you say, “I love you.” I told him to give me some time and before our coffee ended I wrote my thoughts for him.
Love is to be fearless in the face of rejection
Love is to give myself and of myself without expectation of reciprocity
Love is to have courage when the affair seems impossible
Love is to say, “Yes” and trust the outcome
Love is to be comfortable with myself to show myself
Love is to accept myself with my perfect imperfections and to feel no shame or guilt about it.

What do you mean when you say “I love you?”

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an accountant.

10 points to increase Vision help and reduce Vision hurt

Feedback from a reader “Maxine, I read your piece on personal vision, it’s one of the most painful things when your vision is way ahead of the people around you. I liken it to being in an abusive relationship.”

When I read the note I felt great compassion for the reader.  I admired the courage it took to write it and am grateful that the reader spoke for many who have not written.

When I was writing my first book – Change or Die – I was told that it was a “rich girl project.” Many questioned why I was writing and how much money it would make.  Not everyone understood that the book was part of my vision and money was not part of the equation.

Now two books later and seeing my vision unfold in different ways I can share that vision-help outweighs the hurt.  Vision- hurt is real and not to be downplayed, but it is not a reason to stop.

These are some of the things that helped me to increase the Vision-help and reduce the Vision-hurt.

  1. Chunk it down – How do you eat a loaf of bread? One slice at a time.  A vision can be overwhelming since it is big.  Break it down into small manageable actions and do one small thing at a time.
  2. Acknowledge your fear – If it wasn’t scary, and a lump did not form in your throat when you first thought about it then it’s probably not your vision. Vision will change your life so it’s natural to be afraid. Embrace the fear, get close to it and name it.  Get a little box and make it fear’s home.  Whenever it escapes the box, gather it up and put it back in.
  3. Stand in your love ones’ shoes  – Your vision will influence the decisions that you make and you will be different – your thoughts and actions have changed.  Reassure your loved ones that your core values remain the same. Be transparent, share motives and intentions behind your actions.  If you want these relationships then share what’s in your vision for them. Make them a part of it, and keep the love alive.
  4. Use your discretion.  You know exactly which of your friends and family members will support or deride your vision.  Share your vision with persons who have the ability and the mindset to understand what it means, who can support or  assist you.
  5. Protect your vision –  Scientists test ideas in labs, conducting myriad of experiments, perfecting prototypes before announcing their discoveries to the world.  You can adopt the same approach. Nurture and grow your vision,  before you share with others.
  6. Remember your past – Have you ever achieved something that others did not support/ approve of or seemed impossible?  What were the qualities that you displayed then? How can those qualities help you now?  What did you tell yourself in the face of negativity?  Keep these examples with you and make them your mantra. Use them to remind yourself that you have what it takes to achieve what you want.
  7. You are not a mover/ shaker – You have never completed a task,  you procastinate  and give up easily. Yet you have a vision and you want to achieve it.  You get to decide if your past actions will determine your future and if your vision is worth getting off your butt. Vision has a pull of its own, once you are excited you will move towards it.  If you need a boost then see 10
  8. Steel  yourself – If this is what you want then accept that there will be help and hurt.  Feel all the emotions of the journey – the hurt, the sadness, the joy, the bliss, the anger. Do not suppress your feelings because they each carry messages of what you need to pay attention to.
  9. Call on your Higher Power – If you believe in the Universe, God, or some named or unnamed deity or Power, call on him/ her/ them/ it  for help.  Have faith that your vision is as destined and move with confidence that you are well supported.
  10. Get a coach – Coaches provide Vision help. I have helped clients discover, develop, and protect visions.  I have clients who pop up after two years and say, “I need a session.” They come to me when they are rocked by an event or the fallout from a loved one and stay with me until they get back on track.

It is going to be an interesting ride, like none other before, and it’s going to be good.

Which of these 10 points will provide Vision- help when next you experience Vision hurt?

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a Keynote Speaker,  Executive Coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an Accountant.

Vision – Help or Hurt

Last week I led a group through a Visioning exercise. At the end, I asked “What’s the use of a personal vision?” The group answered that personal vision can provide motivation and hope while serving as an internal guiding light. A personal vision can be used to make decisions, prioritize the use of time, inform the actions taken and determine what leads  will be followed.  As the group wound down its contributions one voice piped up, “A personal vision can hurt.”

I was intrigued because I have never associated hurt with personal vision. I said, “Tell me more,” and other voices joined in the conversation.

Having a personal vision can

  • Make you lose your family and friends
  • Be frustrating when you don’t know how to get to it
  • Make it difficult to exist in the present time
  • Make you lose hope when you can’t see it coming through.
  • Cause you to lose patience with your current life
  • Make you wish that you never thought about it.
  • Be too big

I was grateful that the group shared these insights – I now  had a new way to look at the resistance some persons have around personal vision and why some may refuse to develop one.  I was left with empathy for persons who have not yet defined their personal vision – maybe  they cannot yet see beyond the hurt or do not know how to mitigate the hurt or maybe they are afraid that when the personal vision coin is tossed  the hurt faces them and the help lies in the dust.

I left that session with renewed commitment to support my clients to trade the hurt in for help.

And what about you, does your personal vision help or hurt? Tell me more

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a Keynote Speaker,  Executive Coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an Accountant.

Living in states

I live a simple life. I exist in two states – I can write or I cannot write.
If I am sad I write, if I am happy I write, if I am angry I write and so on and so on. Regardless of the emotion, how ugly or how beautiful, I can place my fingers on the keyboard and let it all hang out. The emotions are a definite, they mean that I have checked in and know how I feel. I have come to terms with a situation, an issue or whatever life has thrown my way and I have established how it makes me feel.
But when I am confused I cannot write. The uncertainty stumps me, I cannot feel and so I dither. My words get stuck; they lack confidence and want to dress up for the audience, to appear prettier than they are, they want things to be OK when they are not.
I exist in a state of knowing or a state of uncertainty, a state of confidence or a state of fear, a place of doing me or giving appearances. I either can or cannot write.

What states do you exist in?

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an accountant.

I am doing it …for you

She turned to me and said, “I am doing this for you.” I thought for a while, then responded, “Please don’t do it for me, do it because you want to. I did not ask you to do it for me. If you are doing it then do it for yourself.”
When I make a decision based on what someone has promised I am trading my power of reason and choice for a promised result- If I decide X then you will do Y.
When I do not get what I bargained for I am left disappointed, wondering in a cloud of “should of” and “could of”. Depending on how delusional I am, I may feel angry or hurt, since the other person was unreliable or gave me false hope. When the trade works, I am happy, not because of the choice I made, but because the other kept his / her end of the bargain. Either way the decision was not about me. It was about the other person.
When I make a decision based on what I want, what I need and on what I want to do, nobody else’s thoughts or feelings, are part of the equation. I decide solely based on my beliefs. I claim the outcome, regardless of how it turns out.
When anyone makes a decision because of what they think I want I am not flattered. I feel the weight of the expectation and I am burdened by the responsibility to deliver something that I did not agree to. This is unfair.
I am a potential scape goat since I can be blamed for the outcomes, as the decision maker shirks all responsibility, and takes the wriggle room to say, “I only did it because of you.”
As I told all of this to my friend she listened intently and then said, “Are you having second thoughts? I am doing this for me but please acknowledge that I made these decisions for both of us.”

What decisions are you making for promised outcomes? What are you doing … for someone else?

South Africa and I

I have not written for the last two weeks. I reposted other people’s stuff to maintain commitment, but I have not been writing.
I was sad about the events in South Africa – the xenophobia or Afro phobia that resulted in the deaths of seven people and the mutilation of many more and therefore I could not write.
I have been to South Africa and was blown away by the beauty of Cape Town, the lushness of the wine country and was taught the true meaning of humility at Krueger Park.
Now I have seen the other side of that beautiful face and was reminded of the harsh reality that often lies behind beautiful facades. Once South Africa removed her veneer, I was forced to remove mine. I have spent the last three weeks confronting areas of my life where a beautiful facade hides a not so pretty pattern and I have been reeling from the revelations.
I have been honest. I accept my ugly. I have felt the shame, the guilt, the pain, the hurt, the sadness and the anger that goes with the exposing and acknowledging. Now I have released all that emotion and am learning new behaviors to replace old habits.
The last two weeks have been a farewell party, and a pity party. I have removed the facades and am dealing with the real me. No hiding, no running, this is it.
As South Africa heals, I too will heal. As she deals with her truth and reconciles the despair, hurt and anger, so too shall I. We have both exposed our ugly, we are both hopeful about a truly beautiful tomorrow and we are both working to clean it up.