January 18, 2018

Archives for June 2015

Are we (or they) holding things back by controlling too much?

Four business people in a discussionWe tend to feel uncomfortable if we don’t have complete control of the situation we are in. And yet, sometimes – often? – we need to let go and accept that if the team as whole is going to make progress, we can’t keep a tight rein on everything.

If we have to have control, we may hold things back.

In ourselves, we perhaps need to be clearer about what discretion we truly need to retain, and be more prepared to let the group’s energies take matters forward on the rest.

I know I sometimes have needed to remind myself of that.

With others, we may need to help them see that their self-esteem or sense of self doesn’t have to be synonymous with their control of the situation. We may need to help them be content without full authority; help them be strong enough in themselves to do that, which isn’t necessarily easy.

There’s something about a true team player being ready to let go when that’s the right thing to do; to put the issue “in the middle” for all to work on together.

What about you?

How do you deal with someone holding things back by controlling too much? (Or yourself?)

More than one path to meeting a need?

Fork in a pathWe might not be able to address someone’s needs directly: We may not be able to provide the specific thing they say they are looking for right now.

But perhaps we can see something even more important we believe they need—something they don’t see themselves, so much so that when we attempt to offer them that contribution they aren’t interested, or at least not interested enough to take action.

But the thing is…

At a higher level, what we’re offering probably does ultimately meet a need they do acknowledge and regard as important—important enough to take action about. And that higher need might well be the one their initial desire also fulfils.

So, asking what their stated need will achieve for them, and what that new outcome will in turn deliver, possibly several times over, can take them to where our path meets theirs.

For example, many people ultimately are driven by a desire for peace of mind, even in business, and no doubt what we’re offering contributes to that too.

But we need to join the dots and show how we can help them meet their ultimate need, if not their immediate one.

The closer you to take them to the top of the mountain, the more likely it is their path meets yours.

How do you help people see you can assist them?

Broad or precise?

Group discussionBroad or precise, which do you prefer?

Possibly (but not necessarily) because I’m engineer, I generally regard precision (and the requisite level of detail) as an unmitigated good thing. Not everyone has the same preference of course.

It is quite striking (to me, that is) how some people seem to like an approach to a subject that is really quite broad. To those that unconsciously prefer more precision and structure such an approach can seem really rather woolly, and it’s hard to understand the choice.

But, of course, from the perspective of those who are comfortable with a certain fuzziness in the interest of a more general view, too much structure and precision can be distinctly suffocating.

In fact, of course, it takes all sorts.

The thing is…

Which do you prefer—the broad or the precise?

And what about the people you are dealing with?

Individuals may divide more sharply into the two categories than we realise and the one is rather unfathomable to the other. That’s because these patterns of filtering are largely unconscious.

The question then is how to adapt to a person’s preference, which, by the way, they probably aren’t aware of.

All rather significant in many contexts.

What’s the difference between a building and a “space?”

Mid sized audienceA building is a building is a building, right? Or is it?

What makes the difference between a physical, inert, very tangible building and a much more intangible, somehow vibrant and stimulating “space?”

Some of the answer will be to do with the objects you have in the physical building and how you control the details of the environment.

These things are certainly important.

More than that though, it must be about the attitudes and energies you bring into the building and how you interact with the other people present—what you put into the room, figuratively as well as physically. Perhaps there’s something about these things being valued in common with other people, at some level.

Maybe bricks make a building and people make a space.

What do you do to make the building you inhabit a “space?”

Hard to help?

Two businesspeople in slightly tense conversationAre you hard to help? Or does that just apply to some of the people you work with?

It’s such a waste when we make it difficult for other people to give us the help we need; when we let our pride or our ego put up barriers when others are trying to act in our best interests. You would think we wouldn’t apply the brakes to our own development and growth, but we do.

Maybe you wouldn’t do that, but don’t we all have some area of potential change where we resist?

To make progress, we need to start by being open to input ourselves. Then others are more likely to accept suggestions from us.

Like with much in life, we have to go first.

Life’s too short…

Maze…to have such a long process.

Sometimes, we get carried away with the thoroughness of the process we put in place. Yes, we need to do a diligent job, but good enough is good enough.

Arguably, that’s one lesson of Apple’s success—implementing enough features but not every possible feature. Sometimes it’s frustrating not to have a certain option, but overall the system is more useful and more useable. Less is often more.


Where might you shorten your process?

Have you really got enough time to keep it complicated?


My new book “The Mastery of Leadership” is now available on Amazon – “incredibly relevant and thought-provoking.”

The vital importance of feedback

Heating controllerMost of us struggle with it, at least at times—taking feedback that may be painful to receive. We might be rather better at giving it than receiving it.

The thing is though…

It’s such an important determinant of success and growth, hearing what we need to hear to adjust our actions and integrating that feedback into what we do.

We wouldn’t expect a control system to work effectively with inconsistent measurements.

So not much point in expecting ourselves to be the best we can be if we shut out feedback.

As Steven Pressfield says, “Don’t let it land in your ego.” That’s the key. (See his short and easily-read book “Turning Pro”.) Instead, stand back from yourself a bit and help others do the same.

A better life lies on the far side of feedback received and integrated. That’s worth remembering.


My new book “The Mastery of Leadership” is now available on Amazon. “Incredibly relevant and thought-provoking” in the words of one reviewer.

If there’s an obstacle…

Business People in a Board meeting…we probably need to overcome it before anything else will work.

It’s striking how often we try changing all manner of things to get the result we want, apart from the one underlying issue that’s actually stopping us succeeding.

Why is that?

Sometimes, some aspect of how we relate to other people is what determines the outcome—securing a piece of work or a job, for example—however skilful and knowledgeable we may be about the explicit subject matter. I think that’s much more often the case than we typically assume.

The sad reality is…

Until we realise some interpersonal trait of ours is preventing us succeeding in a situation and do something to alter that behaviour, all of the rest of what we attempt in that context will essentially be a waste of time.

Sad because sometimes we never realise and no-one ever dares to point it out.

A viable interpersonal approach is often an essential condition for success, not a nice to have.

Good to start there, I believe.


My new book “The Mastery of Leadership” is now available on Amazon. “Incredibly relevant and thought-provoking” in the words of one reviewer.