Tag Archives: self-control

Resilient Leadership

Over the years there have been many approaches to leadership with trait theories, style theories, functional models, situational/contingency models, transactional/transformational theories, ideas about biological and personality characteristics, and more recently emotional intelligence competencies.

So do leaders need to be more intelligent than their followers? Well probably a bit, because that inspires confidence, but not too much more intelligent. Do they need to be empathetic? It’s probably better if they have tough empathy ie “grow or go” but they do need social skills. Do they need to be liked? No, but they need to be respected. And since the last recession integrity has become important again.

Difficult times require people to perform better than normal and people need exceptional leaders to help them do that.  By exceptional I don’t mean charismatic or heroic leaders – although some people respond to that style of leadership which “encourages the heart” – but leaders who do what they say they will do ie are conscientious, and also act as role models. And to do that they need to be both self-confident and emotionally stable.

Research among elite performers found that they had a number of characteristics in common. As well as being intelligent, disciplined and bold, with strong practical and interpersonal skills, they bounced back from adversity.

Jim Collins describes in his new book “How the mighty fall” people who are exasperatingly persistent and never give up. They are not necessarily the brightest, most talented, or best looking, but they are successful because they know that not giving up is the most important thing they do. He says; “success is falling down and getting up one more time, without end”.

This resilience (from the latin to leap back) is linked to personal attributes such as calmness in stressful situations, reflection on performance through feedback, and learning systematically from both success and failure. Resilient people generally:

  • Recognise what they can control and influence and do something about it, rather than worry about what they can’t
  • Stay involved rather than becoming cynical or detached or simply walking away
  • Work with others to shape the environment and influence things that affect them most
  • Act as a source of inspiration to others to counter self-destructive behaviour

Aren’t these the sort of behaviours you would expect from good leaders? So it’s not just about “bouncing back” and carrying on where you left off before. It’s about reflecting and learning from what has happened and then getting back to business.

Resilience seems to be an innate ability for most people and is increasingly found in leadership competency frameworks where it is linked with confidence, authenticity and ethical leadership ideas.

Modern leaders need not just brains and emotional intelligence but also resilience. Acting as a role model is an essential part of being an effective leader hence the need for them to be hardy and emotionally stable. Research shows that resilient leaders can have a positive effect on the well-being of organisations and their employees so it’s well worth organisations developing such capabilities.

See how you can develop resilience

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Informational Warfare – protect your reputation

Anyone in doubt about the impact of social media will have had to rethink their ideas after the Tunisian and Egyptian popular uprisings.

But is the tweet really mightier than the sword? Iran soon learned to curtail its impact and China and Libya, by shutting down mobile and internet services and using their internal security forces, prevented any sizeable demonstrations,

In the business world the BP Deepwater catastrophe was an undoubted PR disaster. To add to the company’s woes a tweeter began publishing from a bogus PR division within BP. As the world watched the marine disaster unfold the fake PR person published tweets about the canteen menu and other mundane issues. The satirical account of life within BP was followed by more people than followed the official BP twitter account.

The power of one man (in this case an aspiring comedian) and a laptop against a giant global corporation shows how the rules have changed. Critics and activists no longer need to have an institution behind them, This is what the military call asymmetric warfare – an uneven matching of resources which can nevertheless result in stalemate or worse – think the USA in Vietnam, think the soviets in Afghanistan.

And to make matters worse for businesses the critics don’t necessarily have to tell the truth, are probably emotionally driven because they are angry or desperate, and may also be irrational.

An article in the December 2010 issue of HBR suggests that businesses need to look at what the military are doing. After the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war the US Army War College Centre for Strategic Leadership and Canada’s SecDev Group carried out a review into what they called “informational warfare”. They found that although Hezbollah was mismatched in conventional military terms it had used social media to win “hearts and minds” (ironically a key part of psyops warfare) around the world and discredited the Israeli position.

SecDev scholars wrote a report called “Bullets and Blogs” in which they set out several principles which could be used to counter attack and which also apply to protecting corporate reputations. These were:

Avoid a disproportionate show of force: don’t come across as a bully. Companies are generally seen as Goliaths compared to individuals. It’s not a good idea to respond in an aggressive manner. A more considered, less emotional, response which shows you re listening and doing something about the problem pays dividends.

Train people to respond quickly: Companies can be slow to respond especially of they need to reach a consensus or call a board meeting to agree the content of a tweet. Having a media monitoring system and social media channels in place enables companies to respond quickly through key personnel.

Avoid bureaucracy and empower teams to respond: following on from the last point, the public would rather hear it from front-line staff than the board members. So letting staff blog about their experiences is a more trusted method. I’ve seen NHS web-sites with interviews with nurses and other clinical staff talking about their work. These testimonials can work. Even the US Army allows soldiers to post blogs (as long as they are not risking security) on ArmyStrongStories.com. General Freakly, in a podcast, basically said that if you trust soldiers to make daily life or death decisions you can trust them with social media.

Go rogue – apply the same tactics: New media are often seen as a threat rather than an asset. Used ethically however they can help neutralise criticism. Domino’s Pizza was badly affected by the YouTube video of a staff member doing unsavoury things with the food. Profits were hit and that particular store was closed. The company President apologised using YouTube reasoning that that’s where the audience was. That in itself created news which by chance also diverted attention away from the problem.

Use multipliers to echo your message: In the military force multipliers are things which amplify your strength. In media having 3rd party endorsements can add to your own efforts. Critics of cruise ships visiting Haiti after the earthquake were soon neutralised when independent organisations supported the cruise line which had invested heavily in the country already, were delivering relief supplies, and who had been asked by the government to continue visiting to help the local economy to recover.

Establish your credentials in advance: Of course all these things are made easier if you already have established yourself as an ethical, diverse, fair, organisation so that when you are attacked you can point to past successes or decisions.

With new media you now have less control over your corporate message so reputation management is even more important.

Leaders, Charisma, and NVC

As I’ve posted before in Body Language Watching Opportunities” watching politicians is always good for practising your skills at reading non-verbal communication (NVC). The recent UK elections and the subsequent election of a new leader for the labour party provided lots of contrasting examples.

And although Gordon Brown, for example, was regarded as a poor performer in this regard compared to Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, Blair and Obama’s falls from favour show that people do eventually see through the spin and the rhetoric (see “Being visionary is not enough”).

Ken Rea, a senior acting tutor from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, who also coaches senior executives, wrote an interesting piece for the Sunday Times on this topic putting Ed Milliband, the newly elected labour leader, under the spotlight: “Leaders must act like they mean it”.

He is quick to say that he doesn’t believe leaders should act their way through presentations – after all it takes 3 years to for students to learn how to control their voices, body and emotions – but by understanding techniques used by actors leaders could have the confidence to be more authentic and thereby gain credibility. Milliband’s recent conference speech was sincere but Rea says because it lacked passion – a criticism also levelled at Obama – it made him look lightweight and lacking in charisma.

He says charisma is about revealing your personality by widening your vocal range and projecting a positive and engaging body language – driven by your enthusiasm. (see also “Have you got charisma?”). Milliband needs to learn how to use NVC, particularly his eyes, as Rea doesn’t think they register emotion or show any enthusiasm. Rea also points out that audiences mirror what actors are doing. So if you are giving a flat performance, the audience will give you back what you deserve.

When I run presentation skills or impression management workshops one of the key elements is getting the presenters to look confident and visually connect with their audience. Having emotional intelligence is also important I believe. Having self-awareness, controlling your emotions, understanding what your audience is feeling and developing a relationship with them is the basic requirement of good leadership. As Rob Goffee said in a previous post; “It’s not all about charisma”.

FYI this is not the first time someone from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama has expressed opinions on this subject. In an earlier post “Leadership Panto” the “charisma queen”, voice coach Patsy Rodenburg, explained how people can be coached to be more effective presenters.

Back in September the Daily Telegraph ran a piece in their Science section explaining why they thought David Milliband would be the new leader of the labour party (I almost typed new labour party leader but that would never do in these post-Blair days). Asking; “Is he built to lead?” the authors, Anjana Ahuja & Mark van Vugt, argue that we always pick a chief who can “emote”.

They remind us that David M owes his place at Oxford to his gift of the gab rather than his academic achievements (rather overlooking the possible influence his father might have had) and received an unconditional offer – not for him the need for outstanding A-level results. In their book: “Why some people lead, Why others follow and why it matters” they say that leadership and followership behaviours are hard-wired from our past over 2 million years ago and that we still measure our leaders in the same way we would have done over 10,000 years ago when we first settled in communities.

So if you were fit and healthy you were a potential leader and being big and strong helped you settle disagreements. They point out that that still holds true; taller candidates beat shorter ones eg Obama v McCain and stronger looking CEOs run larger companies than weaker-looking ones. And we know tall men earn more and first impressions count at interviews. (See “Take me to your tall…leader”)

One of the authors was able to demonstrate experimentally how people could be influenced by their sense of belonging to a tribe to choose an incompetent leader over an incompetent one, and even choose a leader who had previously failed when they had a choice of someone who had previously succeeded! So perhaps Red Ed’s triumph over David M through the tribal support of the unions shouldn’t have been such a surprise after all.

They are not saying whether leaders are born or made, because we don’t know. But we do know that some inherited personality traits such as extraversion and verbal IQ are associated with leaders. Leaders tend to speak more fluently using more metaphors and are able to create an emotional connection. Tony Blair said that because Gordon Brown had zero emotional intelligence he couldn’t communicate to the electorate and we saw some examples of that before he decided to retire.

The authors concede that we are sometimes poor at selecting our leaders because we are influenced by their spin or their good looks rather than their expertise or principles. But they say we have also evolved ways of dethroning power grabbers and failing leaders, not least by gossip or ridicule. These days it seems we go for character assassination rather than the real thing. Machiavelli must be turning in his grave!

FYI Research at Columbia University compared power postures to low power, non-assertive postures. Power postures take up more space, like a peacock spreading its feathers, whilst subordinates want to take up less space.

The researchers found that those people asked to adopt power postures, even though they didn’t know why, had higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol. In other words they felt more powerful and less stressed out.

Tim Lambert, a colleague of mine who is a consultant and trainer and a former actor, coaches people into making use of their personal space to help them to be more assertive and influential.

Being visionary is not enough

As President Obama is finding out – selling a vision and being good at speech making is one thing; getting people to deliver and keep on supporting you is an entirely different matter.

His ratings are low in his second year in post – his popularity has crossed the watershed – more people dislike him than like him now. And this despite delivering on the health care package and pulling troops out of Iraq as he promised. It seems to be all about the economy now.

I always thought Obama had a rather enigmatic style of leadership and got funny looks when I said I wasn’t really convinced about him. Too much coaching in using tricks of rhetoric I thought. And how had he progressed through the murky world of Chicago politics and yet come out so clean? Perhaps he was something special after all.

According to research by the HAY Group; “ the visionary leader inspires and is able to explain how and why people’s efforts contribute to the ‘dream’. Through empathy and clarity they are able to move people towards shared dreams“.

This only works however when the leader is seen as an expert and as competent, develops people and provides balanced feedback  – otherwise his words will be seen as just words with no reasoning or explanation to back them up.

So has Obama lost credibility over the BP spillage, the planned mosque near ground zero, or criticisms from military commanders?. What happened to the concept of “Soft Power” which was the subject of many articles after his election?

He clearly has self-control but has been accused of lacking passion so just how self-aware is he really? They say things are bad when wives are brought into the spotlight. Think Sarah Brown supporting Gordon (“zero emotional intelligence”) Brown. And apparently Michelle Obama is  taking off her gardening gloves to join her husband’s fight to regain popularity.

PR = Protecting Reputations

In an inter-connected world made possible by digital surveillance and social networking privacy is becoming a thing of the past.

And for companies who want to protect their reputations and brand image this can create problems which can affect their share price and market standing.

It’s not just so-called A-list personalities who risk being observed letting their hair down (and in some cases much more). A chance remark, or a slip of the tongue in an unguarded moment, can spell disaster. Think of Gerald Ratner’s comment about his jewellery “being crap” – that marked the end of his role, the company made big losses and had to change its name. Think of BP’s CEO Tony Hayward wishing he had his life back!

However help is at hand. According to a recent article in the Observer (1 August 2010): Drunk again? Been behaving badly? Your image may need an online detox, new companies are responding to the challenge. They offer to manage the “footprint” you create online. “Reputation Managers” claim they can clean up and shape your online history by burying the damaging stuff and promoting the good. The article says Kate Moss is rumoured to be using online brand reputation management to make sure Google searchers come to positive stories first. By contrast Mel Gibson has negative stories about his abusive rants in his top 5 results. Paris Hilton and Linsey Lohan are given as examples of people who might benefit from such a service by pushing their recent negative news items down the search results.

In America a company called Reputation Defender will help promote the positive and hide the negative and all for $15 a month. They will also alert you to any new references and for $30 you can subscribe to a service that will attempt to destroy hostile internet content. Other companies with names such as Online Reputation Manager, and Reputation Professor, offer similar services and one of the CEOs said they see themselves in an arms race against intrusive web developments.

The problem is people don’t realise how much information there is on them already on the internet all of which can be digitally stored forever. Some of this is because they use social networking sites or like Lohan Twitter their life away. This information is also used by marketers who learn your profile (just as loyalty cards do. Those coupons aren’t just sent at random or the same ones to everybody) and recruiters to check your background. So the less you put out there on the grid the less people can find out about you.

And in case you think these reputation managers are just internet savvy entrepreneurs think again. PR has moved with the times. The strap-line on that well-known friend of the stars Max Clifford ‘s website says; “… protecting and promoting a wide variety of clients…” (it’s interesting that he puts protection before promotion but apparently that is now 90% of his business) and it  goes on to describe him as “Often poacher and gamekeeper at the same time, he has helped save many a famous career from media damage and destruction”. He has even described himself as providing the 4th emergency service.

I wondered if Naomi Campbell might be using such a service in the light of her recent appearance at the Hague so I checked her out on Google yesterday. As 75% of all clicks are on the first three links I looked at those. The first result is a Guardian story which says “agent told a pack of lies” and which covers the trial story including the allegations about Campbell, so not that positive despite the headline.. The second result from The Telegraph; “former agency threw blood diamond party” was no longer available, which was strange – or maybe not. The 3rd result from Hello: “(she) puts trial behind her as she parties in Sardinia” is the usual sycophantic stuff you expect I suppose. So mixed results there – assuming she might be using such a service. But as I was searching the Google site it was updating from Twitter accounts and these seemed more positive eg “Are we being to hard on Naomi” so it makes you wonder?

I checked back again today. The first result was a Mail online piece asking is she had finally met her match and comparing her “vile and abusive temper” with Charles Taylor’s habit of ripping out victims’ hearts and eating them. I’d say that was a negative story. Then it switched to a Reuters report that said she “had nothing to gain”, a more neutral story but that wasn’t up for long before the Mail story popped back into top place. The second result was another Mail online story about an Israeli model in a pink bikini – with lots of pictures –  on holiday with Campbell. So a glamour story diverting attention away from the trial.

Then the 3rd result from PR Week confirmed what we probably all suspected. A PR company The Outside Organisation described their strategy for managing the media campaign including getting photos and video banned (out of respect for the court of course) and providing press packs and making themselves available for Q&A sessions after her appearance. They felt they got a broadly neutral coverage which they thought was a win in PR. PR Week wasn’t so sure and felt her reputation was still in the balance. They also printed the press release in full which was quite interesting if not the most grammatical of statements eg “Myself and Alan…”. And you’d have thought they might have got their “brilliant” lawyer to coach Campbell on her attitude in court and actually got her there on time.

But as the top North West PR and social media agency Smoking Gun PR points out: even David Cameron isn’t averse to putting his foot in it on occasions and might benefit from some reputation if not crisis management!

Updated 1 November 2010: Camelot Castle Hotel has become a battle of reviews on TripAdviser (195 rate it excellent and 146 as terrible). The owner, John Mappin (of Mappin and Webb jewellery) has called in an online reputation management company after scores of terrible reviews have appeared on TripAdviser. Mappin, a long-time scientologist who claims John Travolta and Tom Cruise amongst his friends, claims that business rivals and opponents of Scientology are behind them.

TripAdviser has responded by warning people that many hotels are hiring “reputation laundering” firms to write positive reviews and improve their on-line profile. It has even posted alerts in large red letters against some hotel entries where it suspects reviews may have been provided by someone with an interest in the property.

Updated 3 May 2011: In the midst of the suffering in Libya I wonder if some PR companies are having second thoughts about the work they have done for Colonel Gaddafi and his regime. Brown Lloyd James (BLJ) promoted Gaddafi as a“fascinating contemporary world figure” and his son Saif as a “human rights champion”.

BLJ had offices in London, New York, and Tripoli and promoted the Gaddafi family through videos including his address to the LSE. US firms were involved as well: the Livingston Group and Monitor. Monitor has publicly acknowledge it might have got it wrong!

Updated 16 May 2011: On the back of the story about the Facebook slur campaign against Google The Times pointed out that it’s not the first time Burston-Marsteller had been involved in dodgy reputation management exercises. It was employed by the Nigerian government to discredit reports of genocide during the Biafran war, and by Argentina when it was accused of 30,000 disappearances. However when it advised  Johnson and Johnson when some of its painkillers were laced with cyanide – it was seen as an outstanding example of how to do crisis management.

Updated 1 June 2011: According to the Times today celebrities and blue chip companies alike are hiring “reputation management” companies – the new social media savvy PR companies – to hide their secrets and boost their positive ratings on Google.

By setting up fake profiles on social networking sites and promoting positive stories they create extra web links and aim to drive up the ratings on Google so that bad news stories get pushed off the important 1st page of search results.

Companies such as Warlock Media, Kwikchex, and ReputationManagement.me, charge up to £10,000 a week for this service.

Updated 3 June 2011: The Times seems to be on a bit of a crusade with this topic adding hotels and authors to those who are using reputation managers. Apparently you can buy “followers” for social networking sites for as little as 24p and agencies are employing content writers to submit reviews and comments to sites like TripAdvisor, Amazon, and Mumsnet.

Amazon and TripAdvisor both state it’s against their rules to review if you have a financial interest and claim they have tools in place to spot this kind of fraud. TripAdvisor flags businesses that have been caught out doing this with a red badge to warn potential customers.

Stressful days are here again

Stressful days are here again According to MIND, the mental health charity, half a million people are so stressed by their jobs that they believe it is making them ill and a further 5 million feel very or extremely stressed by their work. And 2/3 of workers report feeling the “Sunday Blues” ie feeling anxious the day before they return to work. MIND says both employers and employees should stop seeing mental health problems as a sign of weakness and that companies should prom … Read More

via EI 4u with permission

1 Minute Stress Management

Feeling stressed?

Stop what you are doing and stop thinking negative thoughts.

Or rather replace them with positive ones as your brain can’t not see that purple elephant I just told you not to think about.

Positive thoughts like I’m a great Mum, PA, Person, Cook, Manager  .. whatever.

If you are in a private space or can find a cubicle, do an instant rag doll relaxation ie tense yourself up as tight as you can all over your body, hold it for about 10 secs, then let it all hang out. Repeat a couple more times if necessary then stretch slowly and take a deep breath.

If you can visualise easily go to that warm beach or other relaxing get-away NOW. Remember the sun on your face, the sand beneath your feet or the smell of grass.

Finally use all your senses and have anchors which remind you of when you are not stressed. An anchor can be a favourite picture on your wall or in your purse; a favourite smell – vanilla, coffee, hand cream (massaging your palm and fingers can also help relaxation) – some people use bach flower remedies.

So in one minute:

  • STOP negative thoughts,
  • Replace with Positive self-talk.
  • Tense and relax, stretch and breathe.
  • Visualise that special place.
  • Reinforce with anchors you have chosen to reinforce feelings of well-being.

And if you aren’t sure if you are stressed or not read this 10ways-Stressed-SG&A