On my way to Boston

I am currently on my way to Boston so thought I would write a short blog.   I have been very busy of late working in many different countries, undertaking work from surveillance training to negotiations to working with a wonderful charity who support people when their loved ones go missing.

It was interesting to be involved in two very different types of negotiation recently and I learnt quite a lot.  Especially when I had a direct interest in the successful outcome of one of those negotiations.  I am so pleased that we stuck to the same principles I would use when I am advising someone else.  The principles of persuasion and the negotiating stairway do not change.  Have a clear game plan, understand the need of the other parties, gain rapport, listen, build trust and then influence the other party as you both look to gain from the activity.

The sequel to Elite is now fully underway.  I will be looking to have this book finished in three months ready for a publishing date of October.  I do like to have deadlines as if helps focus the mind.

I travel to Sri Lanka shortly to work with the under England under 18 cricket team.  I really enjoy working with the players and staff as they understand what is required to get to the top of your profession (hard work).  I have also been involved with another team who have worked very hard in training to perform at the top of their game when it matters the most. The key is for them to now deliver in the arena.

I have recently run a very different type of experiential learning programme. We have taken a number of teams through a comprehensive surveillance training package.  The themes it creates for the teams in terms of having a clear vision, working together, trusting one another, being flexible, challenging one another have surpassed my expectation.  The difference in the teams at the end of the training in terms of personal and team development has been extraordinary. It also enables me to show them the strengths and development areas they will need to employ in the future.

I was recently asked to write a short article by an inspiring group I have recently come across called Harrington Starr. It is a subject I love so please see below.

LEADERSHIP, TALENT AND ELITE PERFORMANCE

The three aspects of this title resonate with me so I have tried to describe their importance in my life.

Leadership

It only really dawned on me what leadership means in my early 30s. Even though I had been given the title of leader on numerous occasions and had been successful in some of those roles. I still didn’t fully understand what I needed to be a good leader.

I like the way Sun Tsu explains the key components of leadership:

“‘Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage,
and discipline . . . Reliance on intelligence alone results in rebelliousness. Exercise of humaneness alone results in weakness. Fixation on trust results in folly. Dependence
on the strength of courage results in violence. Excessive discipline and sternness in command result in cruelty. When one has all five virtues together, each appropriate to its function, then one can be a leader.”

It is easy to lead when times are good or there is no threat. However, to be a good leader and seize opportunity I have learnt that it is important to understand how to adapt leadership style to suit the situation, and be able to make decisions when they matter. To have built trust and have set clear standards to achieve success, to have had fun along the way and to have been able to connect emotionally with those around me is critical to success and fulfillment. I have now worked with some of the most talented people in the World in all areas of life and all ages (10 to 89). All of these people have stated that the ability for a leader to connect to them emotionally is paramount.

In order to achieve these goals I have learnt that as a leader I must have a clear vision. A North Star, that I can communicate to my team, organisation and any stakeholders, ensuring that they buy into the vision, because it also meets their own needs. As a leader I have learnt to own up when I do not know the answer to a problem, or being fearful. That does not mean I will not step into the arena, but it means that I am comfortable asking for help. I have leant to have courage and stick to my guns or indeed where necessary, concede that there is a better way to do something. Most of all I have learnt that I need to keep practicing the skill of leadership as it is a fragile status, easily lost.

No leader gets to the top without the right people around to support the vision and the key policies and processes in place to achieve it. Whether I have been fortunate enough to select those around me or not, I work hard to develop them, which leads nicely on to talent!

Talent

The best leaders look for those that are as or more talented than themselves. I have sought to do this consistently in my leadership roles. This has allowed me to think about strategy and not get tied up doing or checking other peoples work, because I trust those around me to do their job (I do not micro manage but have empowered people). This enables me to force multiply any activity because those leaders beneath me are also developing their teams and pursuing excellence. When it comes to selecting talent, I look for basic competencies performed to the highest standards, coupled with absolute professionalism and a positive attitude. I train them, put them under pressure and then test them so that they are able to deal with any situation in front of them and only need guidance in extreme circumstances.

As a consequence elite performance for me is about the determined and consistent pursuit of excellence, ensuring that basic skills are in place and they are honed to the highest standards. I like to stay ahead of the competition by evolving when we are winning. Constantly selecting the most talented regardless of age (young or old) to lead teams and organisations is key. Making the correct decision when it matters, being flexible and seizing opportunities that are ever present breeds success. It is about ensuring that individuals and teams are prepared and developed under pressure and testing situations. So that when they are in the arena they have been trained to the highest levels and that they are absolutely resilient enough under pressure to make the correct decisions. ■

Have a wonderful month ahead

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