You’re being watched

As a leader, you’re always being watched. People look to you to set the pace, the tempo, the mood and the energy. They take their lead from you, how you are and how you present. There is absolutely no getting away from it.

People will copy your language, your behaviours, your routine and even how you dress. And no matter how ridiculous you might feel that is, it is all part of social norming and human behaviour. Which is why it is critically important to be thoughtful and aware of the impact that you have.

Small, seemingly inconsequential behaviours can have a significant effect when they’re replicated on mass and become part of the cultural norm. As a simple example, let’s take emailing at weekends. If you’re a leader that emails regularly and systematically at weekends, you’ll maybe find that people start to check their emails to see what you’ve said and what you want.

“Hey Jo, No big deal but can you have a look at the latest figures for me on Monday. Neil “

Becomes,

“Sam, Neil needs the figures urgently on Monday, can you get ahead of the game? Jo”

Becomes,

“Jack, I need the latest figures first thing Monday for Neil. Sam”

Imagine that happening all over the organisation and the impact that it would start to have. And of course it is limited to this one example.

As a leader you need to be intentional about your actions and behaviour, you need to recognise that you’re not only making choices for yourself, but for others too. How you show up, how you are, the light and shade that you bring to a situation will be absorbed and multiplied. Being aware of your impact on others can help you get the most out of your team and the people around you, it can also help you make sure that they get the most out of you.

It’s all about responsibility

I’m going to go out on a limb here and state my belief that the world broadly splits into two groups of people:

  • Those that always believe someone else should carry the can
  • Those that always believe they’re ultimately responsible.

In our rational minds we know that neither of these assertions is correct, some things we’re responsible for, others not so much.

In  my work and my life I’ve met a lot of the first group and they drive me to despair. As an individual that believes most of the tragedies in the world are somehow connected to a bad decision I’ve made in the past, I don’t understand them at all. I don’t understand their footloose and fancy free approach to life, I don’t respect their unwillingness to share the burden and I dislike their lack of thoughtfulness.

In every single context I would rather hire, collaborate with, work with or live with the person that shares my constant assessment of responsibility. I love people who have lists, who wake up with a million things that they feel guilty about not doing, that fret and worry about not fulfilling their very best. Those that feel the responsibility of their existence on their shoulders.

I admit I’m biased, I’m not trying to hide that or to shy away from my personal preference and style. In a world where too often, too many are quick to point the finger at others, are unwilling to accept the responsibility of office, of stature and of simple existence, I’m proud of this particular bias.

It is, absolutely, all about responsibility. Every step, every action, every thought we have on this mortal coil has an impact. So let’s not shy away from that and accept the natural state. By doing so we shift our energy into conscious action and effort and through that we can start to make positive change.

Rather than just exist in our perfect mind.

Five simple things

1) Learn in times of adversity – when things are tough you’re forced to look at life with a level of granularity and forensic inspection that can be absent in normal or easier times. Understanding the insight you gain, but not dwelling on it, is key

2) Walk forward with kindness – in the current climate it feels easier to polarise, to hate and to divide. Walking forward with kindness is a simple way we can all shed a little light n the world and bring small actions together to drive change.

3) Action is everything – in the grand scheme of things, we have so little time. Action is everything and defines who and what we are. We can talk and mull and ponder, we can write and reflect and rework. But only the doing actually matters.

4) Live in the gaps – busy lives are full of stuff, of competing demands. They’re noisy and pressured and complicated and oppressive. Live in the silence and gaps that emerge between. Indulge in the moments of nothingness.

5) Do over (and over) – there is no start, no middle, no end. Just a series of iterations and circles. Don’t be afraid to do again, to try, to repeat, to renew and revise. There is no path to take a wrong turn from, just a simple horizon to head for.

Have a good Christmas break and see you in the New Year.

Reflect and review

In the same way that you can guarantee that @FlipChartRick will tell you that there are bad times ahead, that @SukhPabial will make you feel frivolous and you’ll never get to the end of one of @KateGL’s musings. You can guarantee the next few weeks will be full of blog posts on reflection and review.

And that’s all very well and good.

If you’re only interested in the past. Which I’m not.

There is a truth in the fact that our expectations are based on experience. But our goals should be based on the future, on exceeding and going further, on pushing things harder and achieving bigger and better.

It doesn’t matter which base we are working off, how one person might be further ahead than another. How one organisation might be in a different place to another. That is, in every way, irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter what bigger, or better means to you. Just that you have ambition.

The question is, how could you go further?

HR as a profession is notoriously unambitious, insipid and timid. It has developed an institutional need to seek permission. Often without asking, just waiting.

So my challenge to you is this.

What are you going to do next year to move yourself and your organisation forward? What commitments are you going to make to achieve and deliver more? How can you push the envelope that little bit further to create something that amazes and excites?

Reflect by all means, but remember that you’re only as good as your last performance. You’re judged by recent experience of you. And people are looking for you now and not then.

Because the past is exactly that. It has gone. And it isn’t a place we want to live in.

“Commitment is an act, not a word”

So what’s next?