julia@iclc.com.au leonie@iclc.com.au


How do I motivate my team?

Posted by Julia Milner on Jun 19, 2018 in Blog

As I work within organisations, I am regularly asked “Alex, how do I motivate my team”. I always begin my reply by explaining a really important concept. Before you attempt to influence people in the workplace or before you persuade them to put in discretionary effort, before you persuade them to stretch and challenge themselves, a key message is this. People support what they play a part in designing. Making people do things almost never works as soon as you are gone they are going to go back to their default behaviour. I don’t know about you but I know that I have been guilty of that I know that there are times when my boss said “you must” and because they said “you must” I did when they were there but I did not necessarily do it when they weren’t there and I have witnessed that in so many other workplaces. Now again I know in the real world there are people and times where you have got to say “hey Billy you must” and there are times when you have got to say “hey everybody you must” . For example in crisis in situations or major challenge. In those times sometimes you have got to say “you must”, and then afterwards you can go back to co-design. But co-design is a fundamental part of influencing and persuading people so as you draw people in they will support what they believe they were part of. When I talk about this I often think about being asked quite a number of years ago now to work in an organisation that was really really struggling so I found 2 significant people, the influencers if you like in the team, and for me at that time they were negative influencers they were doing a lot of damage by their attitude their behaviour their slackness in their work. What I could have done as an outsider coming in to fix this situation is to say “I want you to do this, I want you to do that and these are the consequences if you don’t, you will be disciplined, dismissed etc”. However many previous leaders had tried this strategy. Regardless of the fact that these two were currently negative influences, they did have redeeming qualities and it was clear to me that if I got them on board the rest of the team would follow. What I did do, these people were working in an organisation where they had to work shifts so I worked alongside them every shift that they worked I worked with them on every job they did. I was alongside them and I modelled how to do it incredibly well. I explained why I was doing things they way I was. I asked for their input into what was the most practical and efficient way to get results. We had honest and robust discussions and collaborated to create practical processes. Within 3 months they were telling everyone else they had changed the organisation that they had made the organisation more productive and actually thats exactly what happened their changing behaviour caused everybody else in the team to change so by me involving them and assisting them to co-design their future, the organisation turned around. You cannot underestimate the power of it but again I go back to the fact that I recognise that sometimes is not the right or only methodology. Therefore my answer to the question of how to motivate my team always begins with if you want discretionary effort, don’t tell them what the future looks...

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No 70% of communication is not non verbal.

Posted by Julia Milner on Jun 13, 2018 in Blog

No, 70% of communication is not non verbal. Clearly one of the most important skills for a leader to master is that of communication. But there is a myth that populates the discussion about communication. That myth is that 70% of all communication is non verbal. I would suggest to you that this a massive under estimation of the power of your words. The problem is that believing these flawed numbers could lead you to over prioritise the learning of certain skills. Mastering non verbal messaging is a great skill but it doesn’t override the skill of communication via the use of what you actually say. The 70% figure comes from research that is questionable in its ability to be translated into the real world. Lets examine some realities. I would like you to think about the greatest speeches, the greatest presentations you have ever heard. When I think about those the first thing that jumps to mind for me is Winston Churchill’s use of the English language. Now I am not asking you to buy into Winston Churchill’s political philosophy. I would ask you to think about how he conveyed messages to the broader public and in particular how he conveyed messages to the English and British public. In the absence of TV etc this was done primarily via radio. Of course there are other great orators that have spoken across time. An example being John F Kennedy spoke about a manned mission to the moon, again I would like you to think about that or Martin Luther King with his “I have a dream” speech. When you thought about Winston Churchill, when you thought about John F Kennedy, when you thought about Martin Luther King did you think about their non verbal presentation, did you think about their body language? I bet you didn’t. I bet you thought about the actual words they used and how they used those words. The tone of their voices, the use of pauses etc. When people talk about Martin Luther Kings speech and they talk about “I have a dream” they don’t say he was standing in such and such a way and he was presenting his body in such a way. They talk about the power of the words and how the words resonated across decades. So the message is being skilful with the way you present orally makes a difference in terms of influence and persuasion, of course body language has a part to play here and how you present yourself is going to impact upon people. But lets be honest, when people walk away from your presentations, when people walk away from interacting with you they are going to be impacted by how you physically presented yourself but they are going to be significantly more impacted by what you actually said. Late last year I had a conversation with a colleague and I suggested that I was going to focus on one particular thing for this year and this was going to be my big goal, if you like, for this year.  My colleague went away and reflected upon that and he asked himself “what would it be like if I did what Alex is suggesting, what would it be like if I committed to this?” and his decision was to do exactly that, he made the same goal for this year as I did. Now again if you ask my colleague he could roughly tell you where we were but he could not tell you how I was standing or how I was dressed, he would not...

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Leadership and cooperation

Posted by Julia Milner on Jun 4, 2018 in Blog

I have the privilege of watching many leadership trainers, coaches and consultants in action. In doing this I’ve noticed a common misunderstanding. Quite a number of these professional development specialists are advising leaders to strive to enhance the skill of engendering cooperation from their direct reports. The logic behind this is that people apply a greater level of discretionary effort in supporting what they co-create. Absolutely a valuable result to aim for, but is cooperation the right process to get there? Whilst becoming very skilled at increasing cooperation is extremely useful, I would suggest that this is management and not leadership. I need to say up front that we all know that there are times when individuals and teams need management, I myself have experienced many great managers (and some poor ones!). But despite people often interchanging the terms, leadership and management are different skill sets.  Back to the cooperation concept. If I cooperate with you this generally means I’m being compliant to your wishes. Now I know that is not the dictionary definition of cooperation but lets be honest, we all know its often the reality. This is why I argue that this is management and not necessarily leadership. Its not unusual for the same trainers to also suggest that leaders seek compromise. But here again we are faced with a challenge. In practice compromise often results in a lose lose situation, where neither party achieves their desired results. Yet again I recognise that this is necessary at times and a valuable skill to obtain.  But great leaders know that if they want that greater level of discretionary effort focusing upon developing a culture of collaboration is the answer. Whilst collaboration and cooperation are similar, I would argue there is an implied power balance in a skilful use of collaboration.  True collaboration is the coming together of equals to utilise their joint expertise for the greater good. Neither being more powerful than the other in the relationship. Therefore I believe the best leaders will learn to recognise the difference between cooperation, compromise and collaboration. More importantly they will learn when each is the relevant process. Allied to this the best leadership trainers, coaches, consultants etc will recognise and be more explicit about, the difference between leadership and management. Not all leaders will have a management role but all managers would benefit from continually enhancing their leadership...

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Focus. A key leadership skill

Posted by Julia Milner on May 24, 2018 in Blog

Focus. A key leadership skill One of the commonest questions I am asked by leaders and managers, is “I feel overwhelmed Alex what can I do about that?” In many cases it turns out that this is linked to lack of focus. It is very rare to be able to lessen the workload but increasing the skill of focus, can sometimes reduce the perception of the workload. Great leaders know that energy management is just as important as time management. They are great goal setters and driven to succeed but they also recognise that leadership is a long game. In managing their energy they recognise the importance of enhancing the skill of focus. I would therefore argue that focus is one of the most fundamental things you can work on if you want to be an optimal performing leader or manager Having said that it is way more difficult than people imagine. We are surrounded by distractions, the alerts that come in on your computer, if you wear a smart watch when it vibrates to tell you that there is a message on your phone, the phone itself lighting up, the list goes on. In essence we have built an entire world of distractions that stops us from focusing on what we really need to achieve. This means step one is managing your environment, minimising those distractions. Allied to that learning to focus well, means understanding some of the fundamental things about our biology. You can’t multitask. Before you get all upset and claim you are a great multitasker, the science is clear here. You are not multitasking, you are serial tasking. Moving back and forward between several tasks in the moment. This is not optimal. Deep focus requires you to pay attention to one thing and do it exceptionally well. But we are not only distracted by external stimuli. There are the internal distractions too. Your thoughts wander, you jump ahead to what is coming next or reflect back on what has occurred. Focusing at an optimal level includes practicing the skill of keeping the brain in the moment. Its a skill that comes with practice, built up slowly over time. Start with trying to stay in the moment for fifteen minutes and build from there. Whilst these are simple steps, simple doesn’t always mean easy. If you want to be an optimal performing leader or manager working on removing external and internal distractions should be an essential part of your ongoing...

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Great leaders and great managers know what they are good at, but they also know where they need to grow.

Posted by Julia Milner on May 17, 2018 in Blog

When people first find themselves in a leadership position the tendency is to focus on the broader group, the people you are leading, the team you are managing, your colleagues your peers even the people you report to.  As human beings we have a tendency to focus outwards and we often forget to focus on ourselves, the reality is you will never be the optimal leader or manager you can be if you don’t start to focus on yourself first.   The skills, the knowledge, the training you have had has got you to where you are now.   However to move forward in your leadership journey you need to learn new skills, you need to stretch yourself, challenge and push yourself. There is a tendency these days for people to talk about strengths and people say you should focus on strengths and only strengths, but hey lets be honest sometimes you have to get better at things that you are not good at.  There are times where you even have to get better at things that you don’t like doing. If you want to move to the next level, and we all know that whatever level you are at there is a next level,  if you want to go there you have got to challenge yourself to do things that you would not normally find comfortable and easy to do. Thats what growth looks like! Indeed great leaders and great managers know what they are good at, but they also know where they need to grow.  I know it is not easy, we are really good at looking at others and judging others encouraging others to see the areas that they need to get better at, but sometimes it is hard to look in the mirror and say “hey you know what I know I can do better in this area”.  If you really want to go to that next level, then that includes being honest with yourself. So what can you do about that?  Investing in a coach or mentor can provide you with that person who holds the mirror up to you and says “hey but in this area you need to improve”.  For a lot of new leaders it is about finding someone else who can be truly honest and fearlessly challenge you to be the optimal leader that you can possibly be.  Are you courageous enough to do...

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Leader/Manager/Educator Seminar

Posted by Julia Milner on Oct 15, 2017 in Blog


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