, It’s Time To Rethink Leadership Development: Building Momentum For A Leadership Culture, Building Wrestling

Leadership excellence is fundamental to the health and performance of an organisation. Leadership development, however, in most cases is a costly affair. It therefore warrants careful consideration of what organisations hope to achieve when they invest in leadership development. If the point of departure is to help people excel as highly competent individuals, then the criteria for a development programme would be different from one where the goal is to grow people in order to achieve more with and through others – in other words true leadership and teamwork.

Changing perceptions and expectations of leadership

Times change and so do the perceptions and expectations of leadership. If we lived in ancient times when progress meant territorial dominance and hard, hand-fought victories on the battlefield, we would be looking for strong, brave and imposing men with some ability to out-think the enemy. If we lived in the industrial age we would be looking for superior scientific minds. As the world became more ordered, specialised and hierarchically structured in governments, institutions, business and many others types of organisations; technical or functional ability and political astuteness (skilful in tactics and power play) allowed many to rise to the top and thus be recognised as leaders. In this scenario, leadership is typically exercised through command and control complimented by concomitant tactics of intimidation and manipulation. Unfortunately, there are far too many examples with this type of leadership and organisations may be stuck in this old mindset.

Instruments of power

Where command and control still delivers results, the people have resigned themselves to the idea that they are fundamentally either stronger or weaker instruments of power – in some cases they paint themselves powerless for life, in others they believe they are untouchable and as a result often ruin their personal relationships. They fear or respect power for the sake of power. Where those at the top embrace the culture — and why would they not if they were successful in and beneficiaries of it — they will more likely than not, consciously or unconsciously, further entrench this culture through the choices they make on training and development. It does not bode well for the future in a world where optimum learning, flexibility and responsiveness are such important factors for success.

The cost

The cost for organisations, and more specifically, when the leadership are poorly aligned with societal changes is immeasurably high. Today’s knowledge worker commits themselves when they experience the freedom to be creative and enterprising. In a command and control environment they feel inhibited and frustrated; the result being untapped potential. Moreover, people in such an environment often withhold critical information which ultimately comes at a cost to the organisation.

Another cost factor is that employees who are not intrinsically motivated but prepared to submissively and passively ‘sit out’ their careers for the sake of a salary cheque, are nowadays difficult and expensive to get rid of. The longer we have command and control environments (as it is experienced by the common worker, since it is seldom acknowledged by the leadership), the more disengaged people will become. Progressive organisations, understand what is required of a modern-day leader, and are quickly pulling away from their counterparts who continue to practice the archaic command and control tactics.

The key shift

Who do we regard as good leaders? Who is climbing the ladder to higher positions of authority and power? Who gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to filling leadership positions? Is it not those with a strong knowledge base as reflected in their academic qualifications and other certificates? Is it not those with technical know-how and management experience? And is it not those who have demonstrated the ability to use their positional power to get quick results? We believe these are the three criteria most people have in mind when they consider candidates for leadership positions. Whoever fits the bill, can be forgiven if he or she feels superior to the rest. The combination of high intellect, know-how, tactical skill and a robust ego is a powerful one. It is almost inevitable that the leadership challenge ends up to be no more than a battle of wits and ego’s in budget, planning and strategy sessions. Teamwork, the key to success, suffers as a result.

How would leadership development programmes be of any use for the above? If it means another qualification to go on the manager’s CV, more ideas, theories, models and arguments for the meeting room, and perhaps some insights that could improve personal effectiveness, then it will fit the requirement well. But the question that needs to be asked above all is: what is the value for the organisation as a whole? What is the positive influence on those who work with the leader, their morale, energy, focus, productivity, willingness to take responsibility, innovativeness, and own leadership development? Furthermore, what are the ethical and governance values being driven by the organisation and its leaders, and do management support these? And then, what are the positive changes that others see in terms of the manager’s willingness to sacrifice for the cause, openness to feedback, team-orientation, his/her courage to name the real issues that prevent growth in the organisation, and work towards much needed transformation?

i. Culture eats strategy for lunch

The observation is widespread that in spite of various leadership development initiatives, the change that matters most, invariably does not take place. In others words, a change of leadership culture is required and is not being done. More sophisticated strategies, better designs, and the latest performance management tools or tactics to out-maneuver the opposition, can never achieve what a strong leadership culture can. What most people in ‘unhealthy organisations’ secretly or openly hope to see, is a change of heart in their leadership.

The reason for poor or inadequate performance in organisations very seldom is lack of knowledge, skills or experience. Rather, it is to be found in the leader’s lack of attention to behavioural aspects, the general climate, and the alignment in the organisation. When leaders really concern themselves with the character of their organisation, they forget about their ego concerns and personal agendas. To use an analogy from the sports world, we know that when we are in agreement that the team showed character it also means they gave their hearts for the team and the greater cause. Poor character is when a team member puts his own interests before those of the team.

Leadership development for our times need to be in the areas of awareness, ‘inner work’ (self-mastery) and context-sensitive leadership responses.

ii. Awareness

It is to state the obvious that heightened levels of awareness is needed for real change in mindset, attitude and behaviour. As the emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman points out, self-awareness forms the cornerstone for awareness of others, self-regulation and regulation of inter-personal relationships. As obvious and simple as it seems, it is not a given. As a starting point it requires openness, vulnerability and humility to grow in self-awareness. With the ‘chips’ of knowledge, experience and positional power on one’s shoulder, the tendency is very high to filter out signals that might be damaging to the ego.

The three main areas for awareness are personal disposition and discipline, adaption to and need for change, and relationships. The defining, breakthrough moment that leads to heightened awareness and sets ‘inner work’ in motion, often is the understanding that the use of outside help — typically from family members to friends, colleagues, books, coaches and mentors — is not a sign of weakness, but of becoming more authentic and mature.

iii. Inner work (self-mastery)

Awareness is one thing, but challenging conversations with oneself is another. As all exemplary leaders will testify, the ‘make or break’ in their growth as leaders were the challenges they put to themselves in response to the challenges they experienced from the outside; be they tragedies, major disappointments, lack of results, personal attacks on them, honest but hurtful feedback or overwhelming responsibility. Sometimes ‘inner work’ demands nothing short of a deep and painful ‘inner journey’ – going back to unresolved issues and unhealed pain of the past. But most of the time it is nothing as dramatic as that, but being intentional and committed to grow as a person and a leader in all the many wonderful facets of being human.

iv. Context-sensitive leadership responses (use of inner wisdom)

Key to leadership and leadership development is the ability to respond appropriately and more wisely to all kinds of situations. That is why awareness and inner work is so important. To think that reading textbooks will help the leader to do the right thing or minimise damage is shortsighted. Leadership in its proper sense is authentic, spontaneous and from within. Whatever knowledge the leader comes across, it needs to be internalised to make any real and meaningful difference. A leader that has grown out of the command and control style learns the critical importance of adjustment. For instance, to be forceful, courageous and bold is important in leadership. But the context determines when it is appropriate and most effective. Bright ideas at the wrong time or with an insensitive presentation in a particular context can be totally counter-productive. The key to becoming wiser is to consciously and intentionally keep all channels of feedback and learning op en. When we are open and receptive to our environment and to others, our eyes ‘open’ to the wisdom that we have within but never allowed to guide us. It is at the point where we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, not all- knowing and self-important, that we rise to new levels of understanding and insight.

From a leadership development perspective, it is much more effective to explore leadership responses in conversation with others who share the same context (facing their ‘real world’) than listening to leadership theory in a lecture room. It is a common complaint that the good and lofty ideas in the lecture room come to nothing the moment a person is back at the office facing ‘the real world’. It is different when leaders in a development programme support each other by sharing their leadership thoughts and questions as they face the challenges before them.

For healthy workplace and social structures to thrive, leadership development should facilitate growth in the areas of awareness, ‘inner work’ and context-sensitive leadership responses. As illustrated below, in many cases a shift in thinking about leadership development from an outdated paradigm needs to take place.

Old Criteria And Development Focus

Knowledge

Experience

Strategic and tactical skills

Strategy before culture

Change of processes and tools

Advocacy

Good for transactional environment

Development Focus For Organisational Health

Awareness

Inner work (reflection and self-challenge)

Context-sensitive leadership responses (use of inner wisdom)

Culture before strategy

Change of heart and attitude

Questioning and shared learning

Needed for transformational environment

Less is more

The best way to grow a leadership culture is to further develop those who already have a positive influence in the organisation. The questions to ask in order to identify them are the following:

– Is the person clearly passionate about the cause and values of the organisation?

– Is it evident that he does not need and does not have to rely on the power of his position to be able to have

significant influence?

– Does he genuinely want to become a better leader?

– Would he be keen to play a part in building a strong leadership culture in the organisation?

– Is he loyal to the organisation, and will he be part of the organisation for at least for the next two to three years?

Such a group of leaders will have an enormous impact if they purposefully support each other and grow their leadership according to the above-stated development principles for organisational health. A wholesale approach where everyone at a certain level is included in a development programme can at times disappoint in terms of its impact for the organisation. Half-motivated people who participate under some form of internal or external pressure dilute the value. As a strategy to grow a leadership culture, a focused approach with a core of motivated people delivers far better and more sustainable results for the organisation..

The example of Nelson Mandela

Late last year, the world appeared to stand still and reflect on the remarkable life and example of Nelson Mandela. One of the most striking and powerful illustrations of his leadership influence is that so many people recalled that nobody could turn down his requests – a manager’s dream! It is the best possible illustration of the truth of John Maxwell’s axiom: a leader first gives his heart then asks for a hand. The belief that, particularly business leaders, need to hide their hearts from others (and themselves) in order to take hard, calculated decisions and remain resolute in negotiation, is wrong and in truth undermining of their leadership. Passion for and dedication to the cause, is a matter of the heart. And so respect for others, the will to serve — humility — the willingness to ask forgiveness, care, trust, compassion, moral conviction, resilience and perseverance are indeed matters of the heart.

Surely, if we recognise leadership excellence in the person of Nelson Mandela, we should endeavour to look for and grow the qualities he lived and demonstrated. For organisations it is not a call to become more ‘touchy or feely’, but to responsibly address the context within which business decisions are taken and to ensure that these decisions accurately reflect the organisation’s heart, mind and soul, be this in its strategy, finance, marketing, technology and corporate social values.

, Using Shed Kits Vs Building a Shed From Scratch, Building Wrestling

Have you decided to build a garden shed yourself? That’s a great thing to do but you need to plan it well. Many people start full of enthusiasm but soon give up because they lack planning and experience. Building a shed is not hard at all, you just need to estimate your skills well before rushing into the actual work.

Based on your experience in do-it-yourself projects – wood or metal working, slicing, snapping, cutting out and reading sketches – you have two options: to buy ready plans and construct your shed from scratch using them as a guide or to buy a shed kit. Which is better for you? Consider the following criteria:

Advantages of using shed kits

Building your shed from a kit is easy. With a good kit an averagely complex shed can be built together in just a day or two. It’s really not a rocket science.

It’s also fool proof. When you have all the parts cut out and sliced you just can’t go wrong. Yes, you can probably put some parts at the wrong places (if you don’t read the instructions) but it’s very easy to realize the mistake and fix it.

Another advantage is that the kits are serially manufactured. Each kit has been sold, built, tested, fixed and proven itself many times. Often you can research online for the kit model you plan to buy and find opinions of people who have used it to build their sheds.

Disadvantages of using shed kits

The shed kits are not cheap. The price of the more complex quality kits extends several thousand dollars per piece.

As every physical product, the shed kits have a logistics problem. If you want to buy the kit from your local store, they’ll probably have too few models in place and you’ll have to wait for delivery. If you purchase online, you’ll have to pay for shipping and wait again.

Building a shed from a kit limits your creativity. You can’t change the plan, you can’t change the material, sometimes you can’t even change the paint. That’s fine for some people, but if you are a real do-it-yourself fan you may want more freedom.

Advantages of building from scratch or with plans only

You can buy downloadable shed plans only for $5 to $30. If you want to buy printed plans (from local store near you) it may probably cost you up to $50. The materials add to the figures but it’s almost sure that you’ll build a shed cheaper this way rather than purchasing a kit.

The shed plans that are sold online can be downloaded instantly or at the worst case you’ll have to wait few hours until the seller sends them by mail. It’s much faster than waiting a couple of weeks for your kit to arrive.

Working with plans gives you more freedom. The plans of course contain exact instructions and measurements, but if you are knowledgeable you could easy make improvements and customizations to them before you start cutting. You can even choose the most preferred material yourself.

Disadvantages of building from scratch

Of course building a shed yourself, by using only a shed plan, is much harder. You need to have good skills and experience in doing things yourself.

It also takes longer to do it this way. Some complex sheds may take more than a week of hard work to get them done well.

Finally, there are much better chances to do the things wrong and waste materials. If you confuse the measurements you can waste an entire wall or floor from your shed.

There is no better or worse option, it all depend on your preferences and goals. If you are die-hard do-it-yourself fan or are very short in money you’ll probably want to build with plans only. If you just want to have a shed done at reasonable price, then a kit is what you need.

, Christian Team Building Activities, Games, and Ideas for Fun, Building Wrestling

Christianity promotes unity and hence team building is an essential activity of the church. To foster unity and enhance the values taught by the religion in the congregation, some Christian team building activities for adults can be organized by the church. Such activities will also help develop leadership skills, reinforce social commitments and co-operation amongst the church goers.

To develop the activities for building a team of church goers, the Bible is undoubtedly the best source. It contains numerous sermons on the importance unity and teamwork hold, in building a strong human race. So before embarking on devising activities for adult church goers, consult the Holy Scriptures thoroughly.

1. Hunt a Bible Verse: Based on the game of Treasure Hunt, this game is a great team builder that will renew interest in the Bible amongst your congregation. Get the people into groups of three to five members. Give a Bible and a list of clues for a verse in it, to each group. Some of the clues could be easy pointers to the verse. Each group should hand in their list of verses within the stipulated time.

2. Do as Jesus would do: Divide the people into groups as in the previous game. Here you will need a few facilitators. They will depict a scene or situation to each group separately. One member from the group will react to the scenario thus presented in the manner he thinks Jesus would have reacted to it. Each and every member of those taking part should be allowed to enact a scene. The chief facilitator will judge the performances.

3. Serving the Needy: Charity or helping those in need is the most Christian of all human activities. An outdoor camp could be organized at a place where people are suffering. You could serve people suffering from accidents and natural calamities, or the sick in a hospital or take care of destitute and homeless children. Here too divide the people into smaller groups and assign them different tasks.

These and other activities that instill the essence of Christianity could be regular activities in a church to build a team of people with genuine human feelings.

, The Importance of Work Ownership in Team Building, Building Wrestling

The Importance of Work Ownership for Team Development

Team building workshops

Accountability and ownership are something every company wants from its employees. It is even more important if you consider that companies usually deal with team oriented work. Getting every employee in the team on the same page is a difficult task but ultimately, essential considering the long term functioning of the company.

Task ownership and accountability isn’t something employees are pre-programmed with. A lot of it depends on the work environment you create for them. They must be provided with the necessary guidance and tools in order to establish this system. They must understand how their decisions and actions affect the overall functioning of the team as well as the entire organization.

Steps to develop work ownership in teams

Team building activities for work building

1. Planning: One of the first steps to achieve task ownership is to plan out your team’s goals. You must chart out clear objectives and strategies with your team’s involvement. Each team member must be asked to share their individual objectives and strategies with the rest of the team. Then as a leader, engage with each individual team member to understand how they are progressing. Ensure that they all have the entire team’s interests at heart. The focus must be on team success rather than individual glory.

2. Clear delegation of responsibility: Delegating responsibility is not just about handing out individual tasks or assignments. It is very common for employees to be unsure about their decision making powers and level of responsibility. It is up to you as the leader to communicate effectively about how much decision making power each team member has and how much responsibility each member carries for completing tasks.

3. Freedom: Give your employees freedom to develop solutions on their own. Constant monitoring will only interfere with their confidence, skill development and overall sense of ownership. Support your team with whatever tools, resources and assistance they might require.

4. Well Defined Roles: Each member of the team must be given a clear role to play. Ambiguity interferes with effective team work. It is better to eliminate all forms of confusion on the duties of individual team members.

5. Punishment: Focus should never lie on punishing an employee. This is counter-productive as it hinders with the confidence level of an employee. An employee will be forced to work in an environment of fear, which can only result in sub-standard work quality. Employees must be made to feel safe about speaking up and taking risks.

6. Feedback: In an ideal work environment, employees expect to receive timely feedback on their work. Feedback encourages them to work better and improve their efforts. As a team leader, your task is to provide feedback whenever needed. This way, your team is constantly reminded on what to do and how to do it. Positive feedback also helps them stay motivated.

A good team building workshop or team building activity can help you develop your management skills with various Leadership Training Programs. Corporate team building workshops are a good consideration to help realign your personnel. There are many motivational companies that specialize in corporate team building, but be sure to choose one that will leave a lasting impression on our personnel. You will get the most out of companies that combine that offer team building seminars and workshops that combine fun physical team building exercises and offer a learning component that participants will recognize during and after the event is long over.

, "Polynesian Bodies" – Why Polynesian Bodies Build Muscle Better, Building Wrestling

Polynesian people are descendants of those early mariners that crossed the great waters and became the original inhabitants of the South Pacific Islands. In order to survive those long cold oceanic journeys, their Polynesian bodies evolved to develop maximum muscle building capabilities as a means of generating and preserving body temperature.

This was a direct adaptation to an environmental factor. Those that could not adapt died, whereas the survivors carried with them genetic advantages, creating a hybrid body of sorts, capable of performing enormous feats of physical labor, on very little calories, and very little water.

Colonization of the Pacific Islands only encouraged the Polynesian body to propagate these gene characteristics, as the early Islanders literally hacked their homes out of the forests with their bare hands. Domesticating wildlife and horticulture, was a herculean feat, and the scarcity of fresh water developed a need for the Polynesian body to store fluids efficiently.

These early evolutionary patterns form the basis of the contemporary Polynesian body. It enables Polynesian bodies to:

1. Build muscle easily

2. Possess unique strength to mass capabilities

3. Withstand harsh environmental conditions more easily

4. Endure long periods with little food and little water

Unfortunately these adaptations also mean Polynesian bodies will

1. Store excess energy more easily in the form of body fat

2. Store excess water subcutaneously

3. Burn calories at a slower more gradual pace

In the absence of the extreme physical labors performed by our Polynesian ancestors, and the readily abundant food in western cultures, it is no surprise that Polynesian bodies have a tendency to gain unsightly body fat. This storage of excess energy was a survival adaptation for the days of leanness prevalent in the island cultures, but completely absent in western cultures.

Here are 3 of the best tips to improve a Polynesian Body

1. Exercise, choosing intense weight training over cardio.

Polynesian bodies are designed to work out with maximum intensity. Once or twice a week is sufficient. If you are weight training 5 – 6 days a week, I guarantee that you can train twice as hard once or twice a week. Another way of looking at it is this: If you can weight train for 90 min’s, I assure you, you can train harder for 40 min’s. Remember that you can train hard or you can train long, but you can’t do both. Always choose to train hard. Intense training triggers the release of muscle building hormones into the blood stream. Jane Fonda workouts do not. Polynesian bodies respond well to incredibly intense training regimes performed less often.

2. Don’t eat everyday.

This one may come as a shock to you, especially if you are Polynesian, but it is true. You may have heard that if you don’t eat every few hours then your body goes into starvation mode, yada, yada, yada. Who came up with this idea, did they get the rest of the day off for such brilliance? It is simply not true. Polynesian bodies have descended from a genetic strain of humans that could survive for weeks without food and rest and very little water.

Early man tracked herds over vast expanses, on foot, and when they finally engaged their prey they could somehow muster the strength and energy, in this depleted state, to run down and kill a beast more than ten times their size. I know one thing’s for sure. Put a bunch of these early hominids in the NFL and they would stomp the snot out of those juice heads. We need to tap into that power, and utilize the body’s stored energy.

The idea that you feel tired all the time, and that you need to eat constantly to maintain your energy levels are fabrications of the weak modern mind that prevent us from exploiting the vastness of our true human potential.

3. Eat real, natural, unprocessed foods indigenous to the islands, and eat just enough to be satisfied.

A Polynesian body can store more water, so drink plenty to discourage water retention.

Organic fruits, vegetables, seafood, coconut oil, taro, along with chicken, pork and beef are the mainstay of the Polynesian diet. These are the foods which Polynesian bodies have adapted to assimilate efficiently through hundreds of years of evolution. Polynesians should not consume processed foods. Canned foods and commercially packaged foods combined with the naturally high fat Polynesian diets create metabolic mayhem in the Polynesian body. Eliminate all processed and man made foods gradually.

Through the evolutionary process of natural selection, Polynesian bodies can become the ultimate muscle building powerhouse, or an unsightly storage system for excess energy and water weight. Polynesian bodies can build muscle more efficiently because they possess slightly lower metabolisms, and have a genetic propensity to store more water. Over 70% of muscle is water. This is a wonderful adaptation for gaining muscle mass, but slightly detrimental when the desire is to burn body fat, and flush subcutaneous water. Polynesian bodies also possess a unique hormonal environment that allows muscle gain to take place more effectively. A gift to the contemporary Polynesian body from their ancestors who survived some of the most brutal oceanic endeavors.

To approach genetic potential a Polynesian bodybuilder should train with extreme intensity, less often, control caloric intake and manage their water correctly.