The Brain and Overcoming Fear

The Brain and Overcoming Fear

A lot of leaders still subscribe to the idea that they must present an image of confidence and control; they must be a ‘fearless’ leader to be effective and get the results they desire. You’ve probably met many of these leaders in your career and wondered if they really were unafraid of anything – and the truth is, everybody gets scared! It’s not a weakness to feel fear or to share those feelings. In fact, vulnerability is being recognised as a valuable trait for leaders to have, because it endears them to their team and helps foster open communication and authentic relationships.

It’s only natural to feel some trepidation each day, as you don’t know what others are going to do, whether they’re clients, your team, or your leaders. Any time you feel you lack control often triggers a feeling of unease – it happens to all of us. But you can’t let your fear reach unhealthy levels, because then it seeps into your behaviour and destroys relationships, opportunities, sales…just about anything, really!

You probably feel confident when you know all the facts and feel like there’s going to be a positive outcome, even though you can’t be certain, right? And you feel fear when you’re uncertain of what’s going to happen and you focus on that uncertainty.  

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela

So how do you overcome your fear in a healthy way?

The answer lies in MIT neuroscience professor and cognitive specialist Earl Miller’s research, where he found that humans have an inability to multitask, and looked at ways to increase brainpower. This research doesn’t apply to fear as an emotion, where it is instant or unconscious; we can apply it to the fear based on perceptions and expectations that we feel on a daily basis, however. What you need to understand about this type of fear is that we consciously think about it – and when you understand this, you can then apply the research to just about any situation.

What does this mean? To put it simply, since we can only focus consciously on one thing at a time, if you start doing something then your fear will start to dissipate. Conscious fear can be reduced by taking action – so take the plunge, start doing, and you’ll find your fear fading!

Have you ever noticed how you feel scared in a new situation, such as meeting someone for the first time or starting a new job, but then as you dive in and start talking to people and doing things, you’re not as afraid anymore? That’s taking action to overcome your fear, and you didn’t even know you were doing it!

It can be hard to take that first step though, can’t it? To get yourself to talk to that person or take that action, to shake off the fear, you need to commit to doing so.

Commit to taking action when you feel fear, and you’ll find yourself focusing on other things instead. This commitment should be unbreakable; it’s more than just an idea or decision, you need to follow through. There’s no other option.

You’ll feel more and more confident as you stick to your commitment because your action will lead you to success, and success makes anyone feel confident! It’s a cycle, because if you aren’t feeling confident then you should take action, because the confidence will then come to you, and then you’ll have success because you’re not thinking about fear anymore!

Now that you know about your brain and its inability to multitask, you can start to overcome fear instead of letting it hold you back!

About the Author

Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

Keynote Topics for 2019

Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”.

Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity and humour will enhance any event she appears.

  1. Leadership Attitude
  2. Just Rock It
  3. Leadership for Small Business
  4. Leading the Next Generations
  5. Courageous Leadership
  6. Future Leaders of Leadership
  7. New Kindness of Leadership

Phone 1300 719 665

www.soniamcdonald.com.au

7 Ways to Overcome Fear

7 Ways to Overcome Fear

Feeling fear is a natural part of life; you will encounter many situations that make you feel fear, and it’s important that you know how to overcome these feelings so that they don’t stop you from achieving your goals and reaching your full potential. Here are 7 ways to overcome fear and take back control.

1.   Understanding the root of your fears

You can’t overcome your fears without understanding them first. It can be hard to confront them and dig deep to untangle the ‘why’ behind your fears, but in doing so you’re able to move forward and experience personal (and professional) growth.

2. Be guided by your goals

A strategy I love when it comes to overcoming fear is breaking down a big goal into smaller, achievable goals. It’s also a good idea to make sure that some of your goals incorporate learning something new so that you’ve still got value out of the experience even if you do fail at some point. Make sure your goals include some that scare you so that you get plenty of practice facing your fears and get more comfortable taking risks.

3. Work with a mentor

Having someone who is outside of your regular circle of family and friends to advise and encourage you to conquer your fears. Mentors are also invaluable for professional development, so this is definitely an avenue to explore if you want that extra push personally and professionally.

4. Find a mantra that resonates with you

Repeating a mantra or personal affirmation when you’re feeling scared helps ease the fearful feelings and grounds you.

A fantastic mantra I recommend is “This too shall pass”. It reassures you that fear is temporary and repeating it when you’re fearful lowers the hesitant feelings you’re experiencing.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela

5. Realise that regret is worse than failure

While trying and failing at something can be hard to deal with, imagine if you had never even tried in the first place! For leaders especially, failure is all but guaranteed due to the nature of leadership and what it involves – but just about any leader you ask will agree with the fact that regret feels much worse than failure!

6. Look at fear in a positive way

See fear as a chance to challenge yourself, and think about how amazing it will feel after you’ve faced what scares you. Focusing on how you’re going to feel afterwards helps with easing the fear you feel in the moment, and actively working with your mind to turn negative thoughts to positive will serve you well in all areas of your life.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ Eleanor Roosevelt

7. Make small changes for big results

You wouldn’t launch straight into a marathon without training first, right?

Start with smaller actions so that you don’t feel too intimidated. Even the tiniest step is a step forward, and you can’t change the world without changing your own world first.

I hope these tips help you overcome some of the fears you have, whether at work or in your personal life. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these strategies before, or you’ve got any tips that I’ve missed that you find really effective too!

About the Author

Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

Keynote Topics for 2019

Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”.

Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity and humour will enhance any event she appears.

  1. Leadership Attitude
  2. Just Rock It
  3. Leadership for Small Business
  4. Leading the Next Generations
  5. Courageous Leadership
  6. Future Leaders of Leadership
  7. New Kindness of Leadership

Phone 1300 719 665

www.soniamcdonald.com.au

Weak Company Culture is Behind the Decline in Employee Loyalty

Weak Company Culture is Behind the Decline in Employee Loyalty

A new report released by TINY pulse, The 2019 Employee Engagement Report: The End of Employee Loyalty, shares the results of a poll of 25,000 employees from 20 different industries – there’s been a 20% increase in the number of workers who said they would leave their current job for a small pay increase, and that poor company culture is to blame. From only 23% in 2015 to 43% in 2019, this is a shocking number of people who are unhappy at work, with a marked decline in their loyalty as a result.

The report said that the three biggest factors that influenced the happiness of employees were:

●     Doing work that is engaging.

●     The relationships between employees and managers.

●     Their first impressions of a company.

Taking a look at the first point, it’s when employees are not being challenged regularly that they become bored, and this has a large effect on how happy they feel at work. Giving employees challenging and engaging work also gives them a sense of purpose, as well as the opportunity to feel pride and boost their self-esteem when they conquer these tasks. When you show your employees trust in their abilities by giving them harder work, you’re making them feel valued and, in turn, much happier with their position.

Managers who provide challenging work and foster the positive feelings that come from such work are also more likely to build positive employee-manager relationships, another big factor in whether an employee is happy or not.

As leaders, managers must be open, honest, vulnerable (to a point), approachable and know how to effectively communicate with their staff is they wish to keep them happy and loyal. When a team member feels comfortable talking to their manager about things that are bothering them instead of staying silent, they’re going to feel more comfortable and therefore, happier.

The last point is also very important; company culture has a major influence on the first impression an employee has of their new company, which affects how happy they are in the long-term as well. New employees must have a positive and effective experience during the onboarding process, which comes from strong company culture.

With the right people, culture, and values, you can accomplish great things. Tricia Griffith

A Robert Half survey conducted last year showed that, if a company’s culture was negative and didn’t fit with their own, a third of the employee respondents said they would turn down their ideal job. Company culture changes won’t occur overnight, but by analysing where your culture is currently, and where you want it to be, you will already be making a vast improvement to the culture of your company. Employees who see management working to make the necessary changes to improve the workplace atmosphere and provide them with opportunities to challenge themselves will be happier with their positions and stay with the company for years to come. 

LeadershipHQ is the Leaders in Cultural Transformation. We partner with Businesses and Organisations big or small to create and build high impact and meaningful Cultural Strategies. Reach out to us today at https://leadershiphq.com.au/

WHY CHANGE IS HARD – and how we can make it easier.

WHY CHANGE IS HARD – and how we can make it easier.

By Sonia McDonald LeadershipHQ 

Change is a constant factor in human history. What is distinctive now is the rate and scale of change. 

(Robinson 2001) 

Why do people find it so hard to change, or resist change even when it might be good for them?  

As leaders, we are constantly driving and facilitating change, yet research in this area has demonstrated that 70% of change initiatives fail! Why?  How can we make change easier and more successful?  

The neuroscience of change is an area I am passionate about and in this article I am going to share with you why understanding our brains is vital to managing and coping with change.  

Brains are wired for survival. 

Our brain functions as a survival tool by helping us avoid danger.  A part of the brain called the amygdala helps monitor our responses and tells us when to run from danger or towards safety.  It also tells us when to step towards a benefit or away from a threat. 

When change is happening around us in our society, relationships and workplaces, we can feel threatened and that activates our amygdala. We feel outside our comfort zones, triggering fear and anxiety.  

While this is good for our safety it does come at a cost.  When our brains are in safety mode, protecting us from a perceived threat, they cannot function well as problem solver or creativity generator.  In the workplace, the fear of change causes people to rely on tried and true routines, rather than create new strategies to move forward.  In effect, the brain shuts down the part that is really needed at that time. 

Basically the amygdala of your brain has been hijacked and this is not the best time to make an important decision.   

So whether you are a caveman running away from the threat of hungry dinosaurs or your boss has just informed you that there are going to be major changes to the department, your brains and bodies will continue to react with the same chemicals and hormones that we need to run away from physical danger.  Such is the effect of the threat of change at work. 

Now you see why 70% of change initiatives fail.   

By understanding how the brain works we can manage change resistance and develop strategies to maximise change potential. Additionally it gives us insights into how people learn, engage and remember as well as manage emotions. 

Brains are lazy. 

Considering that our brains weigh around 1.5 kilograms and absorb around 20% of our body’s energy, our brains are energy efficient and actually pretty lazy. Our brains prefer comfy habits as they require a lot less energy. They don’t really like to learn new habits or ways of doing things as this takes effort!  

The design of the brain is not always helpful.  The part of the brain which is responsible for thinking and high order processing (the pre-frontal cortex) requires a lot more energy to function than does the part of the brain which deals with emotion (limbic system).   That means it’s a lot harder for us to cope with change than to return to our tried and true habits. 

How can we break habits and form new ones? In his book “The Brain That Changes Itself” Dr. Norman Doidge tells us that the brain can be changed by our thoughts and actions.  They physically alter the structure of the brain itself, which in turn changes the way it functions.  This is the most important breakthrough in neuroscience in four centuries. 

This ability of our brain to change and make new connections, re-wire itself and even grow new brain cells as a result of experience is called “neuroplasticity”. Change is about forming new wiring, habits and behaviours. Yes, we can teach an old dog new tricks! 

How can we harness neuroplasticity of change? By tapping into the emotions…  

Brains are affected by emotion. 

We know that often our behaviour is controlled by emotion rather than common sense.  What that tells us is that the limbic system in the brain has some control over the information that is passed onto the cortex, which controls our decision making system. 

In other words, our thoughts and actions are coloured or skewed by the emotion that we are feeling.  You’ve heard of rose-coloured glasses, the phenomenon that makes certain things look better than they really are.  That’s an example of the limbic system influencing our beliefs and perceptions. 

When people are afraid, as they usually are at the thought of change, our limbic systems colour our perceptions with threat and fear.  People only see the negative side of change because that is all their brain permits.   If the change is brought about for positive reasons then people will accept it and be ready to involve themselves in making change happen.   

Making the brain work for you. 

So, we know that our brains are wired for survival, that they are lazy and will take the easiest thought out of there, and that every thought is coloured by emotion. We also know that actions and thoughts can change the physical structure of the brain. 

How can we use that knowledge to make the brain lead us towards supporting change rather than running away from it? 

There are two key solutions.   

First you can use neuroplasticity to your advantage and provide opportunities for people to develop new thoughts, and practice new actions and behaviours, thereby rewiring the brain.   

Second, you can make the limbic system work for you by creating positives around change especially to reinforce behaviour and thought changes. 

We need to build organisational change systems that capture the important role of emotions in determining behaviour, particularly in the contexts of engagement, resistance, cooperation, and commitment.  What that means in the workplace is that every small step forward needs to be acknowledged.   

Change leaders are essentially helping people to develop new connections within their brains.  Our role should involve creating opportunities and interventions which give people the chance to trial new behaviours in a safe environment.  We should allow them to take the ‘risk’ of doing something uncomfortably new and succeed at it. The more fun we can build into the experience, the more people will become involved in it. 

Positive reinforcement is essential to help embed the new thoughts and behaviours and to show the limbic system that this change is nothing to fear.  The more often we can encourage people to repeat the new actions, the more comfortable their brains will allow them to feel.  When people are comfortable, their high order thought processes resume functioning and their creativity and decision making skills start firing again.   

If you are leading change in your organisation you can create the right atmosphere for change by building a safe and positive environment for your team and identifying ways to acknowledge and reward new actions or behaviours. 

What is your organisation doing to support its people through change? 

Email me your thoughts and insights – or you would like to know more about creating these environments to sonia@leadershiphq.com.au 

10 Ways to Build Your Resilience in Business

10 Ways to Build Your Resilience in Business

The greatest learnings for me in business has been the importance of leadership and resilience. Don’t you agree? The world of small business presents many challenges to the owners of these businesses, that they wouldn’t necessarily encounter as part of a larger company – such as isolation, high amounts of stress, and trying to keep up with the ‘big boys’ while on a much smaller budget. Owning a business isn’t for the faint of heart, but the good news is that there are steps business owners can take to improve their resilience so that they can better handle the many ups and downs that are part and parcel of running a small to medium-sized business. Here are 10 ways to build your resilience as a business owner.

Find a space to reflect, away from work

Whether it’s at your kitchen table in the morning with a cup of coffee, or while you’re at the gym, it’s easier to reflect on challenges and issues you’re facing and find solutions when you’re in a different environment.

Set achievable goals

Goals have to be realistic; you’re never going to achieve all your goals in one day, so make sure you’re setting tasks that are actually achievable within the timeframes you’ve given.

Practice mindfulness

This is fantastic for anyone, but small business owners really benefit from daily mindfulness exercises as they help you change your reactions to things and make more appropriate choices. Something as simple as a daily breathing exercise can make a big difference.

Find your tribe

When you have a great support group to fall back on, it becomes a lot easier to deal with difficult situations. There are many great groups on Facebook, for example, for small business owners, where you can get support from other owners. Finding your ‘tribe’ means you have a group of people who you trust, admire, respect and can be open with – you know you’ll get the feedback you need, as well as incredible support too. Being able to bounce ideas off people is also another huge benefit of becoming part of a community of small business owners like you.

Take responsibility

When something goes wrong, as a small business owner you have to get on with it and fix the situation – you can’t just sit in the corner and wait for somebody else to solve the problem. The more you do this, the stronger you’ll feel.

Reflect

Whether you prefer after every project, or at the end of the day or week, reflecting on what you’ve accomplished and what lessons you’ve learned gives you perspective and helps you find what you can take away to apply to a future project. Feeling prepared is key to being more resilient.

Acknowledge when you’ve done a good job

It’s easier to reduce stress and silence the doubting voice in your head that says “you can’t do this” when you’ve taken the time to appreciate your successes and find the good in each day.

“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” — Charles F Kettering

Look after your health

When you make the time to nourish your body with good food and move it with exercise, you’re giving yourself the best chance at remaining positive, even in the face of tough situations. It’s hard to feel like you can tackle a problem when you’ve slept poorly, haven’t exercised and have been eating too much junk – so improve your resilience simply by looking after your health.

Be realistic, not negative

Negativity breeds failure, which is the last thing a small business owner wants. Being realistic about things doesn’t mean being negative – acknowledge what’s happening, no matter how bad it may be, then start making a realistic plan on how to overcome the issue. If you’re negative about a situation, you’ll miss solutions and not try hard enough – or at all – because you’ve already decided it’s hopeless. It’s important to practice looking at things realistically to help you realise that while you may have limitations, there’s almost always a way to overcome things.

Do what needs to be done

If you never try, you’ll never fail – sounds nice in theory, but in practice, your business will never be successful, and you will fold under pressure that an owner with resilience would be able to handle. Do what’s necessary, even if it’s uncomfortable; back yourself and take risks, and be ready to get back up and try again when things go wrong. Mistakes and failures are learning opportunities – don’t be scared of them, learn to embrace them! You’ll feel more courageous as you conquer more fears and negative situations.

Small business owners don’t have the same resources as their larger counterparts, and at times it can be overwhelming navigating the world of small business, but if you work hard on building up your resilience as a small business owner, you’ll find yourself rising to the top of the heap. It’s all about taking responsibility and being accountable, looking after your body and mind, being realistic, reflecting, acknowledging your efforts, setting achievable goals and being prepared to do what it takes. Practice these and you’ll quickly find your resilience growing – you’ll be ready to handle whatever comes your way.

Contact the team at LeadershipHQ to find out about our Leadership Coaching and Programs for SME’s and Family Businesses at info@leadershiphq.com.au

7 Laws of Courageous Leadership

7 Laws of Courageous Leadership

Following on from my popular 7 Laws of Leadership blog, we’ve put together these 7 Laws of Courageous Leadership to help you become the brave leader you dream of being! After all, it’s the bravest who make the most change! 

Hold yourself (and others) accountable

When you hold yourself responsible, you’re demonstrating and modeling what you expect from your team as well. Be prepared to say something when a team member doesn’t perform to standard, because accountability is vital to success and improvement.

Practice Courageous Conversations

To avoid miscommunication and wasting time and effort, you need to be able to say what needs to be said – no matter how uncomfortable or awkward. This doesn’t mean being rude; it means being brave and cutting through to the heart of the matter. 

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain

Ask for detailed feedback

It’s hard to hear when we’re not doing something as well as we should be, but you’ll never really improve unless you get honest and unfiltered feedback from those you interact with, and then act on that feedback.

Be open with your communication

You’ll gain more trust and respect from your team if you’re communicating with them often, and not hiding information or using jargon to avoid telling them anything of real value. Be brave enough to admit when you don’t know something, too!

Don’t sugar-coat anything

Nothing and no one can change and improve without knowing how things truly are, so be factual and realistic when talking about how your business is doing.

Be prepared to lead the way for change

You have to be your own champion; believe in yourself and the change you want to bring about, and be sure to involve your team in the process so that they engage in a meaningful way. Even though things could (and probably will) go wrong, and you might have to go in a whole new direction, nothing will change unless you’re brave enough to try.

Follow your instincts

Doing what you believe is right, even in the face of overwhelming opposition or other negative circumstances is an example of true bravery. When you stick to your convictions, even if you’re not always right, you’ll still be respected by those around you. Over time you’ll find your instincts will sharpen, making it easier to trust them.

It’s time to truly be brave, and you can start by following these 7 Laws of Courageous Leadership. If you want to leave your mark, make a difference and inspire your team, take the first step on your journey to courageous leadership today – pick a law and get practising!

About the Author

Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

⭐️ Keynote Topics for 2019

Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”.

Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity and humour will enhance any event she appears.

1. Leadership Attitude

2. Just Rock It

3. Leadership for Small Business

4. Leading the Next Generations

5. Courageous Leadership

6. Future Leaders of Leadership

Sonia is accredited in Prism Brain Mapping, Strengths Finder, SEI Assessment and Zenger Folkman 360.

Phone 1300 719 665

www.soniamcdonald.com.au

Find out more about my Courageous Leadership Programs, Keynote and Coaching today by emailing me at sonia@soniamcdonald.com.au

We’re All in This Together

We’re All in This Together

Yesterday I was the Keynote Speaker for one of my favorite keynotes and workshops around Leadership Attitude. Even though the theme was Balance for Better, I focused for Balance is Better for all of us; together regardless on race, gender, age and so forth and to appreciate the uniqueness and talents of us all. Leadership is about being brave and kind – and ultimately if you can inspire someone to do more, learn more and be more; you are a leader. What I loved about the keynote was the number of men and women in the room and the number of men and women in the room who approached me afterward to share how much they got out of my keynote and some had tears (me too by the way…).

However, I was reading that SurveyMonkey and LeanIn released some startling findings recently: men are much more reluctant to participate in workplace activities that have them closely interacting with women since #MeToo and the anti-sexual harassment movement have gained traction. While #MeToo is fantastic for women, the ferocity of support has left many men worried about their actions being misconstrued – and this is causing women to miss out on valuable career opportunities, such as having male mentors and sponsors that can help them advance. In this era of #MeToo, we need to understand that it doesn’t mean we have to be against each other; it’s not men versus women, it’s all of us against inappropriate actions and behaviours that are damaging in the workplace (and all other areas of life).

If men continue to avoid solo interactions with women at work, we’ll only see the gender gap keep widening and the imbalance of power will be even more difficult to address. Men, especially managers, are doing a further disservice to women (even if they aren’t intending to) by hindering their career growth and progression. Great sponsors and mentors can make all the difference to a woman’s success in the workplace, so we must become allies, not enemies. 

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So, just how can we demonstrate that we’re all in this together, especially if we’re men who are concerned about being unfairly labelled? The answer is simple: act respectfully to your female colleagues and be sure to support them wherever possible, to help them grow and advance. Sponsorship is one of the best ways to do this.

A workplace sponsor is someone in the workplace who has power, who can influence decisions made about your career progression, advocate for your advancement and success and allows you to make mistakes (sometimes) and take risks, without harming your career. Sponsors go to bat for you, at the expense of risking their credibility and is a truly important part of your growth in the workplace. They are more hands-on than mentors, but that isn’t to say that mentors don’t have their place in helping a woman’s career.

Fast Company released data that shows that sponsorship is one of the most crucial parts of career advancement. Women with sponsors:

●     Are 27% more likely to ask for a raise than female peers who aren’t sponsored

●     Are 22% more likely to request ‘stretch assignments’ that contribute to their leadership reputation

●     Report that 68% are satisfied with how their career is advancing

Men are much more likely to have a sponsor than women – 56% more likely, in fact (according to Harvard Business Review). This culture needs to be changed, so that more men start stepping up and sponsoring their female colleagues, and that those women are prepared to accept the offer.

Contact the team at LeadershipHQ about how our cutting edge and transformational leadership programs and coaching can change and transform your team and business.

As I said before, we’re all in this together. This means women should accept the help men are offering, and men should be offering more often. When men in the workplace make a real commitment to boosting their female coworkers, by advocating for them and promoting them (when deserved), we’ll start to see unity in the workplace and equality in opportunities and power for women. Respect goes both ways, and if you aren’t behaving inappropriately towards the women in your workplace, then you have nothing to fear.
The 7 Laws of Leadership

The 7 Laws of Leadership

I have put together these laws (when I say ‘laws’, I mean more like guidelines) for any leader who is looking for some direction – however, these are also great for making the most of life in general. I will expand on each one to explain why I believe they’re so important, and what they mean to me.

Without further ado, here are my 7 Laws of Leadership:

  1. Be brave. Be kind.

You’ll hear me speak (and write!) about this a lot, and with good reason; the best leaders are those who blaze trails and are willing to do the things nobody else will. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish when you take that leap! Always practice kindness and bravery.

  1. Follow your instincts, but don’t discount others’ opinions

If you can’t trust your gut feelings, why should anyone else trust in you and your actions? This doesn’t mean that you should ignore what everyone else thinks; it’s important to seriously consider all options and outcomes before making a decision, but great leaders become known for their instincts when they steer people and companies in the right direction and out of trouble. Trusting yourself can be hard, but it’s what you need to do to become a better leader.

  1. Be respectful, always

A leader who doesn’t treat others with respect will never be respected – and won’t be getting the best from their team. Relationships are built on respect, and you’ll need to forge relationships often in the workplace to be truly successful.

  1. Be empowering

When you give those around you the encouragement and tools to succeed, you’re instilling a sense of pride in their work and improving their self-esteem, while pushing them to get the best results possible. Making people feel good will make you feel good too, and will bring a great atmosphere to the workplace. You’ll also improve the culture of the business, which will have positive ripple effects throughout the whole company.

Contact the team at LeadershipHQ for a FREE Leadership or Business Culture Coaching Session 

  1. Be the model of what you expect from others

“Do as I say, not as I do” leaders are not respected, and will quickly sink a positive atmosphere in the workplace. If you want your team to be hard-working, honest, passionate – you need to model this for them and live it yourself. Enthusiasm is contagious; spread it to your team and see the great results.

  1. Be willing to do what is right, even when others don’t agree

Having integrity and doing what you believe is the right thing to do is an important characteristic of any great leader. No real change was ever made without someone taking that risk, standing up and saying “No more. This is what is right!” While others may not like it, you will more often than not gain their respect for sticking to your guns and doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is.

  1. Never stop learning

You’ll never know everything – that’s just a fact of life. But things are always changing; new research comes out, or new technology, and to continue staying on top of the competition, you need to be constantly learning and seeking out new information. Improving your skills and knowledge is never a bad thing

I go by these guidelines every day, and I hope they help inspire you to take the next step and ramp up your leadership. These laws also apply to life in general – who doesn’t want to be the best they can be, whether they’re a leader or not?

I’d love to hear what you think of my 7 Laws of Leadership! Let me know what you think of them, and if you think I should include any other laws. 

 

 

 

 

Top Tips for Managing Resilience

Top Tips for Managing Resilience

As technology and the world advance, workplaces find themselves up against an almost constant stream of challenges, whether in the form of workplace bullying, the restructuring of organisations, micro-managing, ridiculously large workloads and having no support from leaders or the rest of the team. Workplaces also liaise and work more with companies in other countries, which means different time zones have put an end to the ‘traditional’ working hours of 9-5 (or similar), leaving less downtime. Technological advancements can also be overwhelming, trying to keep up with the expertise and skills needed to take advantage of it. So what is the answer to dealing with these issues, and just how do they affect your company’s bottom line right, with managing resilience.

When your team is feeling overwhelmed, stressed or upset when facing the challenges of the modern workplace, you’ll see a decline in productivity and employee morale, and a sharp increase in staff turnover. You might think some people just handle stress better than others, but there are things you can do to help your staff improve their handling of these challenges – to help build their resilience.

Resilience is, essentially, the handling of stressors and problems without folding under the pressure. You’ll find some people do their best work when faced with being stressed, but you can still teach others in the workplace how to build up their resilience, to produce better results and better handle all that their work throws at them.

Here are some tips to help your team manage (and/or build) their resilience:

Improve social interactions at work

When employees have a reliable social network in a workplace that promotes open communication, you’ll see them thrive in no time. When they love coming to work, they’ll be more productive too. Being sympathetic as a leader, providing opportunities for teamwork and holding social events for the workplace will help boost your team’s relationships.

Promote a happy and healthy environment

Along with helping your team build beneficial relationships at work, there are many other ways you can improve your workplace’s psychological environment:

  • Be an approachable and open leader
  • Don’t regularly restructure or change the roles, procedures and expectations of the environment, in turn providing a feeling of job security
  • Watch that workloads don’t get excessive, and provide variety in tasks to keep your team interested
  • Have other leaders or managers trained to be more aware of the team’s wellbeing
  • Show that you trust your team by letting them have a degree of autonomy
  • Be flexible with how your team can work; offer differing hours or to work from home if needed
  • Be sure to recognise and reward great work
  • Invest in training your staff in new skills
  • Be fair

People who feel valued, trusted and supported by their leaders will be empowered to handle the challenges that come their way without crumbling, improving their resilience.

Take challenges as an opportunity for teaching

When you treat problems or failures as learning opportunities, you’ll be demonstrating resilience to your team, and showing them ways to look at challenges in a different light, helping them build their own resilience as well. Be sure to explain how not everything will work, but that’s okay as it’s still an important part of ultimately succeeding. Workplaces face challenges often, and modelling resilience for your team will be a great influence when a problem arises. Grab my books Leadership Attitude or Just Rock It! to get some more tips and tools in this area too.

Be grateful

At the end of each working day (or week), tell your team what you believe was a success that day (or week), and ask them what they believe went well too. Focusing on the positives is a great exercise to help your team realise that there’s always something to be grateful for, which is essential when building resilience.

These tips will help you empower your team and manage their resilience in the workplace, leading to less staff turnover, and an increase in morale and productivity. Take the time to work on your own resilience as well, so that you can effectively model it for your team. Don’t forget that your team looks to you as an example; how you handle workplace challenges directly influences your staff and provides them with ideas on how to react.

About LeadershipHQ

LeadershipHQ have helped 1000’s of small to medium sized organisations (sometimes corporates), teams and leaders. LeadershipHQ partner with businesses and leaders in building & delivering high impact.

Leadership, People, Cultural and Business Strategies and Programs that ultimately improve the bottom line. We work with leaders and organisations across the globe transforming their leadership, culture and organisations with our cutting edge and results-driven strategies, assessments and diagnostics, leadership events, coaching and programs. 

We know Great Leadership means Great Results. We have a team of brilliant people across the Globe who work with organisations and clients to deliver great results and leadership. We are the innovators and thought leaders in Leadership and Strategy through our consulting, events, internal and external programs and online resources. 

Our specialities include Cultural Transformation | Business Strategy | Leadership Development | Facilitation | HR Consulting | Executive Coaching | Keynote Speaking | Online Programs | Licensing Programs | Online Resources | Emerging Leaders | Women in Leadership | Leadership Coaching Program | Masterclasses – Half and Full Day Leadership Workshops | Events | Mentoring Programs

LeadershipHQ is the headquarters of Great Leadership. We have our online resource centre and programs, leadership magazine and we have been named in the TOP 50 & 100 Leadership Blogs across the Globe for CEO’s, Entrepreneurs and Executives. 

Our clients include Thiess, Super Retail Group, Coles, Kane Constructions, McConaghy Properties, ARTC, Aurizon, Qantas, Virgin, Origin, Downer, Genie, CQU, Griffith University, Lend Lease, Vic Racing and SEQ Water.

Phone 1300 719 665  www.leadershiphq.com.au www.soniamcdonald.com.au

 

 

The HR Problems 8 out of 10 Businesses are up against

The HR Problems 8 out of 10 Businesses are up against

A survey held by the Association for Talent Development that looked to discover what executives thought were their biggest HR concerns in terms of the skills their future talent will need to help them survive in the business world. 83% (or 8 out of 10) are facing a skills gap at present, and 78% foresee it occurring in the future. So, what are the skills that are in high demand now, and in the coming years as well?

Leadership

50% of the survey respondents expressed that they knew their organisations didn’t have adequate leadership strength to call off the bench, while 47% mentioned they were expecting, in the future, a gap in executive and leadership skills.

The fact is that companies still aren’t giving their employees adequate preparation for advancement into executive and other senior positions of leadership. It’s time to start investing in training and empowering staff so that they flourish in senior leadership roles, and that the company is in safe hands as each leader is succeeded.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the process of analysing an issue without emotion, looking at all the different perspectives and angles to get to a conclusion that is logical and sound. Critical thinking doesn’t happen automatically – after all, humans are emotional by nature – which is why it’s an extremely desirable and valuable skill that employers are looking for in their staff, whether current or prospective hires.

When team members have well-honed critical thinking skills, there’ll be a noticeable improvement in productivity, teamwork and employee relationships. It’s difficult to consciously disregard your irrational feelings, biases and self-interest, but you’ll be making yourself irresistible to employers.

Communication

Effective verbal and nonverbal communication is critical in any employee and organisation’s success. Positive communication helps with forging beneficial relationships with peers, leaders, clients and customers; encourages and improves teamwork, and ensures clarity with any ideas, suggestions and feedback.

Not a day goes by where we don’t communicate in some form or another, so building and improving on communication skills is essential in the business world.

It’s important to identify and close skill gaps as they are found, but things won’t really improve unless all key personnel, especially those in HR and senior management, are committed to the process. Don’t become part of the statistics; solving this HR problem is easier than you may think.
If your company needs help identifying and filling skill gaps in your organization, contact us at LeadershipHQ today for a consultation and see how we can help.
About LeadershipHQ

LeadershipHQ have helped 1000’s of small to medium sized organisations (sometimes corporates), teams and leaders. LeadershipHQ partner with businesses and leaders in building & delivering high impact

Leadership, People, Cultural and Business Strategies and Programs that ultimately improve the bottom line. We work with leaders and organisations across the globe transforming their leadership, culture and organisations with our cutting edge and results-driven strategies, assessments and diagnostics, leadership events, coaching and programs. 

We know Great Leadership means Great Results. We have a team of brilliant people across the Globe who work with organisations and clients to deliver great results and leadership. We are the innovators and thought leaders in Leadership and Strategy through our consulting, events, internal and external programs and online resources. 

Our specialities include Cultural Transformation | Business Strategy | Leadership Development | Facilitation | HR Consulting | Executive Coaching | Keynote Speaking | Online Programs | Licensing Programs | Online Resources | Emerging Leaders | Women in Leadership | Leadership Coaching Program | Masterclasses – Half and Full Day Leadership Workshops | Events | Mentoring Programs

LeadershipHQ is the headquarters of Great Leadership. We have our online resource centre and programs, leadership magazine and we have been named in the TOP 50 & 100 Leadership Blogs across the Globe for CEO’s, Entrepreneurs and Executives. 

Our clients include Thiess, Super Retail Group, Coles, Kane Constructions, McConaghy Properties, ARTC, Aurizon, Qantas, Virgin, Origin, Downer, Genie, CQU, Griffith University, Lend Lease, Vic Racing and SEQ Water.

Phone 1300 719 665  www.leadershiphq.com.au www.soniamcdonald.com.au

Can You Afford the High Cost of Poor Leadership?

Can You Afford the High Cost of Poor Leadership?

Many of us have seen poor leadership in action – those bosses that drive away your colleagues and new hires in droves, possibly even forcing you to quit as well. You’re left wondering why the management hasn’t changed, even in the face of such poor employee retention. When leadership in a company is poor, millions of dollars are lost each year due to the way it affects customer satisfaction, staff retention and productivity. When only 30% of your employees are actively trying to do a good job, there’s a problem. We’ve gathered some statistics to show you just how much poor leadership really costs.

  • Between 9-32% of staff, turnover could be avoided with better leadership
  • Poor leadership can cost the typical company up to 7% of their total annual revenue
  • Improved leadership can eliminate the 5-10% drag in productivity that many organisations are operating with
  • 25% of staff quit because they don’t feel empowered by their leader
  • In a company of 250 that has 25% of its staff leave each year, with an average turnover cost of $5500 per staff member, this equals an annual turnover cost of $343,750!
  • These figures are the dollars lost in staff turnover due to poor leadership: Entry level – 30-50% of salary. Mid-level – 150% of salary. High level – 400% of salary

When poor leadership is ignored, every aspect of a company suffers. You’re not getting the best from your employees, many of whom are actively trying to ‘get back’ at their leaders through reduced performance. Customers sense (or can plainly see) staff unhappiness, leading to poor customer retention; it’s not just employee retention that suffers.

The culture of an organisation and business is so important, and ineffective leadership causes damage that cannot be repaired until the root problem is addressed. So how do we start improving the leadership within an organisation, and decreasing its high costs?

Contact the team at LeadershipHQ for a FREE Leadership Analysis at info@leadershiphq.com.au

Start investing in your leaders, and in turn, your employees, by providing opportunities for improvement in their leadership skills. Whether you decide to do this internally with your HR department or outsource to an external company, you’ll soon see the benefits – and so will your bottom line.

Culture changes don’t happen overnight, but it’s worth reassessing your goals, vision and mission to make sure they align with the new culture you’re wanting to introduce and grow – one where employees are led by the best, where they feel valued and appreciated, and want to put in their best efforts for the company. Investing in your leaders means your staff will start becoming more invested in their work, and in the company as a whole.

Companies can’t afford to pay the high prices of bad leadership, so it’s time to be proactive and start facing the problem head-on – can you and your staff continue to pay the price, both monetary and emotionally? Don’t drive away your best employees (and customers) with bad leadership.

About LeadershipHQ

LeadershipHQ have helped 1000’s of small to medium sized organisations (sometimes corporates), teams and leaders. LeadershipHQ partner with businesses and leaders in building & delivering high impact

Leadership, People, Cultural and Business Strategies and Programs that ultimately improve the bottom line. We work with leaders and organisations across the globe transforming their leadership, culture and organisations with our cutting edge and results-driven strategies, assessments and diagnostics, leadership events, coaching and programs. 

We know Great Leadership means Great Results. We have a team of brilliant people across the Globe who work with organisations and clients to deliver great results and leadership. We are the innovators and thought leaders in Leadership and Strategy through our consulting, events, internal and external programs and online resources. 

Our specialities include Cultural Transformation | Business Strategy | Leadership Development | Facilitation | HR Consulting | Executive Coaching | Keynote Speaking | Online Programs | Licensing Programs | Online Resources | Emerging Leaders | Women in Leadership | Leadership Coaching Program | Masterclasses – Half and Full Day Leadership Workshops | Events | Mentoring Programs

LeadershipHQ is the headquarters of Great Leadership. We have our online resource centre and programs, leadership magazine and we have been named in the TOP 50 & 100 Leadership Blogs across the Globe for CEO’s, Entrepreneurs and Executives. 

Our clients include Thiess, Super Retail Group, Coles, Kane Constructions, McConaghy Properties, ARTC, Aurizon, Qantas, Virgin, Origin, Downer, Genie, CQU, Griffith University, Lend Lease, Vic Racing and SEQ Water.

Phone 1300 719 665  www.leadershiphq.com.au www.soniamcdonald.com.au

Does Your Team Need Some Resilience?

Does Your Team Need Some Resilience?

In the past few years, we have been delivering more and more Team Alignment and Leadership Workshops. I am hearing the same stories and experiences across all these teams – the need to align, collaborate, lead, innovate and keep moving forward in being a stronger and resilient team. As technology and the world advance, workplaces find themselves up against an almost constant stream of challenges, whether in the form of workplace bullying, the restructuring of organisations, micro-managing, ridiculously large workloads and having no support from leaders or the rest of the team. Workplaces also liaise and work more with companies in other countries, which means different time zones have put an end to the ‘traditional’ working hours of 9-5 (or similar), leaving less downtime. Technological advancements can also be overwhelming, trying to keep up with the expertise and skills needed to take advantage of it. So what is the answer to dealing with these issues, and just how do they affect your company’s bottom line?

When your team is feeling overwhelmed, stressed or upset when facing the challenges of the modern workplace, you’ll see a decline in productivity and employee morale, and a sharp increase in staff turnover. You might think some people just handle stress better than others, but there are things you can do to help your staff improve their handling of these challenges – to help build their resilience.

Resilience is, essentially, the handling of stressors and problems without folding under the pressure. You’ll find some people do their best work when faced with being stressed, but you can still teach others in the workplace how to build up their resilience, to produce better results and better handle all that their work throws at them.

Here are some tips to help your team manage (and/or build) their resilience:

Improve social interactions at work

When employees have a reliable social network in a workplace that promotes open communication, you’ll see them thrive in no time. When they love coming to work, they’ll be more productive too. Being sympathetic as a leader, providing opportunities for teamwork and holding social events for the workplace will help boost your team’s relationships.

Promote a happy and healthy environment

Along with helping your team build beneficial relationships at work, there are many other ways you can improve your workplace’s psychological environment:

  • Be an approachable and open leader
  • Don’t regularly restructure or change the roles, procedures, and expectations of the environment, in turn providing a feeling of job security
  • Watch that workloads don’t get excessive, and provide variety in tasks to keep your team interested
  • Have other leaders or managers trained to be more aware of the team’s wellbeing
  • Show that you trust your team by letting them have a degree of autonomy
  • Be flexible with how your team can work; offer differing hours or to work from home if needed
  • Be sure to recognise and reward great work
  • Invest in training your staff in new skills
  • Be fair

People who feel valued, trusted and supported by their leaders will be empowered to handle the challenges that come their way without crumbling, improving their resilience.

Take challenges as an opportunity for teaching

When you treat problems or failures as learning opportunities, you’ll be demonstrating resilience to your team, and showing them ways to look at challenges in a different light, helping them build their own resilience as well. Be sure to explain how not everything will work, but that’s okay as it’s still an important part of ultimately succeeding. Workplaces face challenges often, and modeling resilience for your team will be a great influence when a problem arises.

Be grateful

At the end of each working day (or week), tell your team what you believe was a success that day (or week), and ask them what they believe went well too. Focusing on the positives is a great exercise to help your team realise that there’s always something to be grateful for, which is essential when building resilience.

These tips will help you empower your team and manage their resilience in the workplace, leading to less staff turnover, and an increase in morale and productivity. Take the time to work on your own resilience as well, so that you can effectively model it for your team. Don’t forget that your team looks to you as an example; how you handle workplace challenges directly influences your staff and provides them with ideas on how to react.

Reach out to LeadershipHQ about our Team Alignment and Development Workshops and Programs at https://leadershiphq.com.au/

Author – Sonia McDonald

Sonia McDonald is one of Globe’s leading leadership executive coaches and keynote speakers, as well as an advisor, thought leader, and author. She’s also CEO and founder of LeadershipHQ and has been named as one of the Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs and Top 250 Influential Women in the world. LeadershipHQ is leading the way in leadership and partner with Organisations and Businesses such as Qantas, Thiess, Super Retail Group, Brickworks, Kane Constructions, Bartons, EY, Maurice Blackburn, Grant Thorton, and Minter Ellison. LeadershipHQ partner with businesses in building great leadership and people development through their cutting edge and high impact leadership programs, coaching, workshops, resources, and events.

Sonia has worked, coached and spoken in front of people around the world, encouraging them to succeed by reaching their full potential and inspiring leadership greatness. Sonia has written several books on leadership: Leadership Attitude, Just Rock It! and Neuroscience of Leadership, and she writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. She has been published in BBC Capital, The Australian, HRD Magazine, Business Insider and Richtopia. She has spoken at numerous leading conferences, companies, and events across the world with her vision to create authentic, kind and courageous leaders and organisations.

 

 

Top HR Trends for 2019

Top HR Trends for 2019

Eric Swenson, leadership and workforce strategist and author of The Five A’s of Great Employees and Managing People in the 21st Century hosted a webinar for Ascentis.com that provided insights into what he believes will be Human Resources’s top trends in 2019, and how to face the changing world of Human Resources.

Technology continuing to increase

As businesses try to keep up with the almost constant increases in workplace technology and utilise them to improve their training, recruiting, engagement and other facets of HR-related activities, the HR professional must realise (if they haven’t already) that technology will be their new best friend when it comes to workplace relations. Innovation and productivity will be driven by technology, aided by those in HR who embrace the advantages that said technology gives them.

Adapting to the changing workforce

It’s already occurring in many companies around the world, and as more Millennials enter the workforce, they bring with them the desire for working remotely, including overseas, to maintain a better balance between life and work. Businesses need to be prepared to offer opportunities to work remotely and adapt their HR functions to suit this new workforce. Training, team-building, recruiting and more will require innovation to keep productivity at acceptable levels.

Reconnecting with your employees

With more and more people working remotely, it can be hard for them to fully engage and feel part of the company’s culture without being physically surrounded by it. HR needs to get creative this year, to help ensure that the culture of your company is integrated into everything your employees go through, whether it’s in the recruiting process or retention.

Leaders encouraging innovation

The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ manager’s days are numbered in 2019, as leaders who are vulnerable, authentic, brave and open continue to get the best from their employees. Improve productivity and employee satisfaction by providing chances for them to use their skills and strengths, to work autonomously and have a bigger say in company goings-on

Continuing to stand for equality

In this era of #metoo, it’s more important than ever for HR representatives to be aware of workplace harassment; how to address it in the workplace and helping women in new leadership roles feel comfortable.

Be willing to take on those less skilled

When struggling to fill positions, you’ll need to look at those applicants who aren’t as educated or skilled and be ready to up-skill and train them for the roles that need filling. Many applicants aren’t as formally qualified as previous generations (for a number of reasons) so this means taking a chance if you want more employees.

Providing a purpose

Millennials, especially, are more productive and likely to remain with the company if they’re able to find meaning and purpose in what they do. To keep up with this and retain your best employees, as an HR professional you’ll need to be evaluating your corporate responsibility and the social purpose your business serves regularly, to make sure they align with the organisation’s goals and values.

Leadership is changing (our research)

Organisations and HR must radically rethink all of their stakeholder interactions, especially those involving their human capital. This includes how to acquire, deploy, develop and retain their people. Bold leadership characteristics will be required to ensure your business adapts and thrives. From our research, we’ve distilled the following competencies that we think will be critical for the 2019 Leader: 

  • Collaborative Orientation
  • Developer of People
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • People Management
  • Courageous Leadership
  • Learning Agility
  • Global Mindset
  • Cultural Agility
  • Future Focus
  • Leading Change
  • Innovative/Creative Champion
  • 360 Communicator

What are your organisation and L& D teams doing to prepare your current and future leaders and how many of these competencies are being developed? This is where LeadershipHQ can help!

We need to be adaptable as the workplace continuously changes, to ensure they can keep the organisation on the right track so that the company isn’t left behind. Reflection and evaluation need to be practised regularly to stay on top of the game and determine the effectiveness of your strategies.

For more information please read these great white-papers from HR World and PwC too.

Let me know your thoughts or any other trends you are seeing.

Author – Sonia McDonald

Sonia McDonald is one of Globe’s leading leadership executive coaches and keynote speakers, as well as an advisor, thought leader, and author. She’s also CEO and founder of LeadershipHQ and has been named as one of the Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs and Top 250 Influential Women in the world. LeadershipHQ are leading the way in leadership and work with Organisations and Businesses such as Qantas, Thiess, Super Retail Group, Brickworks, Kane Constructions, Bartons, EY, Maurice Blackburn, Grant Thorton, and Minter Ellison. LeadershipHQ partner with businesses in building great leadership and people development through their cutting edge and high impact leadership programs, coaching, workshops, resources and events.

Sonia has worked, coached and spoken in front of people around the world, encouraging them to succeed by reaching their full potential and inspiring leadership greatness. Sonia has written several books on leadership: Leadership Attitude, Just Rock It! and Neuroscience of Leadership, and she writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. She has been published in BBC Capital, The Australian, HRD Magazine, Business Insider and Richtopia. She has spoken at numerous leading conferences, companies and events across the world with her vision to create authentic, kind and courageous leaders and organisations.

My Wish for 2019 – Being Human

My Wish for 2019 – Being Human

My wish for 2019 for the leaders (remember leadership is an Attitude, Mindset, and Action) of the world – let’s be Human. I think this is what the world is craving for – Connection and Compassion as human beings.

At this time of year, I watch all those cheesy and wonderful Christmas Movies. One of my favourites is Love Actually. I love the scene at the airport where all the people are arriving at Heathrow and they are so excited and happy. They are hugging and embracing their loved ones. It occurred to me that this is a place where you can say that is love all around – and connection is all around. Don’t you agree? We might say we are all different however we are all the same – we need connection. Did you know we are social beings and this is important in leadership?

The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection. Robin S. Sharma

I always find the week before Xmas is interesting. There always seems to be this mad panic to get everything done before the holidays. Everyone was racing around, walking faster along the streets, checking their phones was more evident and in a rush to have meetings and conversations. In turn, so many of my clients were canceling meetings and coaching as they got just too busy. I was really conscious of not being caught up in the busyness and crazy rush of closing the year off for the upcoming Christmas break. So I don’t buy into it – ever.

Why? It stops me from being in the moment and connecting with those around me and being compassionate to them and myself. It is this time of year we need to take care of ourselves and others.

And are we really that busy? Are we? What happened to being in the moment and being human?

Thing is regardless of what time of year or where we are at (we don’t need an airport to feel connection) – we need to start being human.

So imagine the simplicity of just saying hello and asking a stranger at a coffee shop how they are, calling someone to say hello instead of an SMS or being truly present when we are with our loved ones or with the people around us. Saying thank you for making my coffee, being there for me and asking if someone needs help.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

Imagine the power of letting go of judging ourselves or others, being kind to ourselves when we fail or letting go of any expectations of the world and being grateful for what we have and where you are at. Imagine talking to ourselves like we would to someone we love. Imagine if we embraced this connection, compassion, and kindness as leaders in 2019. Where busyness or being on 24/7 is just a fad.

This is something I am truly committed to and passionate about. Compassion, kindness, and connection. You can read more about this in my latest book JUST ROCK IT!

In turn, I highly recommend you watch Brene Brown’s TED Talk called Power of Vulnerability too. Brene studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama

Imagine a world where we truly appreciate and love the element of being human and we can create moments where we can make a difference to humanity by connecting and being compassionate. Where time and love are our most precious resources, not money, power, titles or things. Imagine leaders of the world being human. This is leadership.

It starts with us.

Below are My Top My Top Twenty 2019 Affirmations for being Compassionate to YOU.

1.    I am worthy.

2.    I can do anything I set my mind to.

3.    I am stronger than I think.

4.    I am the master of my own life.

5.    I cannot control others’ actions, only my reaction to them.

6.    I am me. I am unique. There is nobody else like me.

7.    Nothing has beaten me yet; I can overcome any obstacle.

8.    Who I was in the past does not reflect on who I am today.

9.    I take each day as a new chance to do and be better.

10. I will always make the best of a situation.

11. I will look for the positives in everything, even if I can’t immediately see any.

12. I am grateful.

13. I am proud of myself and all I have achieved.

14. I have many talents and skills.

15. I can and will harness my power to make the life I want.

16. I know my worth, even if others don’t see it.

17. I deserve happiness.

18. There’s no limit to what I can achieve.

19. It will all turn out alright in the end.

20. I can do IT.

Author – Sonia McDonald, Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach and CEO of LeadershipHQ

Sonia McDonald is one of Globe’s leading leadership executive coaches and keynote speakers, as well as an advisor, thought leader, and author. She’s also CEO and founder of LeadershipHQ, and through this, she empowers people to discover their own innate talent and strengths.

Named as one of the Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs and Top 250 Influential Women in the world, Sonia is shaking up the traditional view of leadership, and along the way she has uncovered some outstanding leadership talent which had previously gone unnoticed.

Sonia is internationally recognised as an expert in leadership and strategy, organisational development, workplace diversity and the neuroscience of leadership.

Sonia has also coached people around the world, encouraging them to succeed by reaching their full potential. She has helped hundreds of people build their brands, grow their leadership and business strategies, increase their confidence, build awareness, increase their business revenue, connect to the right people, build exceptional skills and achieve brilliant businesses and careers.

Sonia has written several books on leadership: Leadership Attitude, Just Rock IT! and Neuroscience of Leadership, and she writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. She has been published in BBC Capital, The Australian, HRD Magazine, Business Insider and Richtopia.

www.soniamcdonald.com.au

www.leadershiphq.com.au

6 Tips for Reflecting Over Christmas

6 Tips for Reflecting Over Christmas

Yesterday literally three people whom I had coffee with said to me; “Sonia please make sure you take time off this Xmas.” I know I work hard however it is obvious I need to take time off I thought to myself. Yes, it is for all of us during this time. You might think it seems crazy to even be writing about this topic – after all, aren’t holidays about forgetting about work and relaxing? But the truth is that great leaders never truly stop reflecting, seeking feedback and improving and sharpening the saw on their leadership. In fact, when you’re away from your work environment you might even be able to step back enough to gain a new perspective on things and get yourself ready to improve after your time off.

Here are six tips on how to use your time wisely when reflecting on your leadership over Christmas.

1.   Don’t let it consume your whole holiday

This is the most important thing to remember! While effective leaders are always reflecting on their leadership, you do need to make sure you take time out for yourself to unwind and de-stress, and to spend time with your family as well over the holiday period.

2.   Be honest with yourself

If you aren’t completely honest about your successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses, you’ll never grow. Identifying these areas of improvement are what will help you become a better leader, as long as you follow through on them! It’s not fun to think about things we can’t do well, or what we can do better, but you need to have these tough conversations with yourself to grow as a person and a leader.

3.   Look at your leadership as a whole

It’s not just about reflecting on your results (KPIs etc.), your wins and your losses, but how you interacted with your team and those above you, what you did to improve your leadership over the past year, whether you sought feedback or not; everything that makes up your leadership self.

4.   Celebrate the wins

Make sure you take the time to acknowledge what you’ve done well, and really celebrate any wins you’ve had with your leadership – whether that’s leading your team to an incredible result, or receiving an award recognising your efforts. These are especially handy to reflect on when you’re feeling down on yourself; they boost your spirits and remind you that you CAN do this!

5.   Plan for changes and action in the new year

Once you’ve assessed your strengths and what you could improve upon, it’s time to plan out what you’re going to do in the upcoming year to make these changes happen. Examples include: planning to ask for feedback on a more regular basis, making a conscious effort to change the way you communicate, and signing up for workshops or seminars.

6.   Make a list of books, blogs, podcasts etc. that will help you improve

Great leaders never stop learning! Once you’ve reflected on your leadership, you can then start researching and asking friends, colleagues, even your mentor if you have one, for recommendations for books, podcasts, TED Talks, etc. that will help you improve. You must be hungry for knowledge, never complacent and thinking you know it all or your leadership will suffer. I love Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! (had to do a plug!). Listen to Just Rock IT! Podcast too as it will truly motivate you over Xmas…

Strike the right balance these Christmas holidays, by making the most of your time away from work to both spend quality time with your loved ones, and reflect on your leadership during the past year. While reflection isn’t always pleasant, especially when you’re looking back on things that didn’t go well, it’s vital to being a truly great and authentic leader.

6 Tips for Not Being a Superhero

6 Tips for Not Being a Superhero

This is a daily conversation when I meet with people. You are a superhero and I don’t know how you do it and how you juggle everything. Do you feel like this?

I don’t know why I look away when someone says I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know what to say. I just do it. However, there are days when I think the same thing. There are days where I feel I need to get my cape out of my draws and be that Super Hero. My daughter even bought me a Wonder Women cape from Movie World; it made me smile.

“There is a superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape.” Superman

The last few years have been the toughest I have ever encountered. I am a full-time single mum who is working incredibly hard to build, run and grow a company with a teenage daughter with deliberating mental health issues. For those parents who say it gets easier, I say when? I truly love what I do however my greatest learning is that I am not a superhero. Even though it is so important to believe you can achieve and do anything you put your mind to, it is important that we also need to understand we are human.

Thing is I keep hearing stories from so many people who feel overwhelmed and are working in full on executive jobs, juggling kids and family, fitting in life, meetings, racing around dropping off kids at school, managing staff and just peddling…and so forth.

Even at times, I feel the constant pressure too. I need to be a great leader, a great coach, be a great mum, achieve as an entrepreneur, a great friend, daughter, peer…be all these hats when I just want to be me and breath. I have all these expectations of myself – and those around me at the time do as well. The overwhelm and pressure to be a Superhero or Super Human…

How do we do it all? We can’t. This is why I love coaching in this space because I get it and keep it real.

“You don’t need to be a superhero. You just need to be better than you were yesterday.”

Then a few weeks ago I came back from Melbourne after being a Keynote Speaker and I crashed. My body shut down and I was in bed incredibly sick for a week. I didn’t listen to my body. I thought I could handle the 60 hour week and be that Super Hero. I was wrong.

However, I do manage and this is what I focus on for my clients and myself.

Here are my top tips for being YOU (Not Super Hero YOU – even though we can still put on the cape!) –

  1. Great Awareness and Mindset – focus on being you and knowing who you are. Don’t be someone else and own and accept you. Focus on your strengths and the difference you bring to the world by being YOU. Even the super hero’s focus on their strengths and mindset. They also know their areas of weaknesses and don’t let it stop them.
  2. Stop thinking you need it all or can do it all at once. We can have it all but not at the same time. Stop being on all the time. Take time off and just be. Meditate and practice mindfulness.
  3. Compassion and self-belief – the greatest gift you can give yourself is to love yourself (truly and utterly) and have belief and faith in yourself. Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love. Confidence is also the best outfit you can wear. Remember to practice affirmations regularly. Every week I get my clients to send me their goals and affirmations and it really makes a difference.
  4. Laugh – have fun and laugh, laugh, laugh. Remember life is too short to take things so seriously, let it go. Please do things that you love to do like singing, painting, walking, seeing a movie…anything that brings you joy.
  5. Tribe – focus on asking on surrounding yourself with people who truly love and support you. Remember to take care of them and also ask for help if you feel like your superhero powers need some strength.
  6. Practice kindness – Practice kindness to yourself and to others. Make a difference to someone else each and every day no matter how small. Make sure you have amazing and kind thoughts each day. Leadership is about practicing kindness to those around you – that’s being a SUPERHERO!

As Superman said it does take courage to put on the cape and it takes more courage to take it off and just – BE YOU. Be your OWN Super Hero!

By the way my cape in now in the wash!

if you would love to know more about being the best version of you – find out more about our Programs today and join The Leadership Collective. 

Contact me today for my favourite Rock It Manifesto at info@leadershiphq.com.au and find out more about our amazing blogs at LeadershipHQ (Named in TOP 10 Australian Leadership Blogs).

 

 

What To Never Say To Your Boss

What To Never Say To Your Boss

Effectively communicating with your boss is an essential skill to have in the workplace, especially when you’re in a leadership role. There are a right way and a wrong way to talk to your boss; it’s not like talking to a regular colleague and you must keep that in mind with every interaction you have with your higher-ups.

Here are some examples of what to avoid when you’re speaking with your boss:

Telling them “I can’t”

If you’re saying this, you will come off as unwilling and lacking confidence. Your management won’t appreciate this lack of flexibility or your negative attitude.

Don’t put down your colleagues

While we want to let our bosses know that we’re valuable to the company so that they consider us for opportunities in the future, but don’t minimize what your team did to make yourself look better, or even worse, take credit for what they did. This shows your boss that you’re not a team player and makes you look very unprofessional.

If you’re wanting to talk about issues with a colleague, that’s a different story, but still requires the utmost professionalism in your approach.

Saying that something isn’t in your job description

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should use a piece of machinery when you’re actually in accounting, just because your boss tells you to, but use common sense.

Bosses appreciate flexibility in their team, and getting more skills and experience in different roles will make you even more valuable to the company.

Don’t be too humble

Learning how to accept praise from management (or anyone!) is hard to do, and a lot of us try and deflect the compliments onto others, minimizing our own achievements for fear of coming off as arrogant. But you also don’t want to appear to be taking all the credit either. So what’s the middle ground?

Acknowledge what you accomplished, give credit where it’s due and doesn’t brush off the praise you receive. This way you show that you work well in a team, and are professional.

Saying ‘No’
While saying ‘no’ can be needed at times, you need to be polite and professional and remember that you’re expected to be as cooperative as possible when your boss asks you to do something. If you need to say no to something, try and phrase it in a way that explains your refusal, like mentioning another deadline you have and asking if your focus should change from that.

Being mindful of how you talk to and interact with your boss will help you greatly in your career. It’s important to have a positive relationship with all co-workers, including those higher up than you.

LeadershipHQ have launched some incredible public programs and events suited to all levels such as our Transitioning to Leadership program, brave Women Leading, HR Leadership and Leadership Masterclasses. Book here!

Check out our amazing Online Leadership Academy too and start 2019 as a Great Leader and Manager! 

How are Performance, Culture and Leadership Linked?

How are Performance, Culture and Leadership Linked?

Each workplace has a culture unique to it. A culture is, essentially, the shared perceptions, values, group norms and objectives/goals within a social unit, and includes how the unit solves problems, justifies themselves and interacts with each other. It can also include physical aspects such as the way an office is laid out or the type of furniture that’s used.

Basically, culture is “the way things work here”.

It’s not enough to say that your culture is a certain way; imposing rules that people may or may not follow doesn’t make a culture, it’s in the way a team behaves.

Many managers do understand how important of a factor culture is in the performance of a company, but a lot believe that they can just ‘say’ they have a good culture, and it will be so. Culture is not something that can be implemented; it is the product of experience and learning over the years. Culture must also be adaptable, as it can become a liability and hinder a company’s success as changes arise in the market and in technology.

Leadership and culture are intertwined fundamentally in many important ways. A company that is not run by founders or entrepreneurs but rather by general managers that have been promoted, leadership is limited due to the reflection of the history of the leaders and founders on the culture.

Introducing a new leader to a company with a strong culture and long history will cause some conflict with what the culture allows as the new leader imposes their ideas, and the new leader can only win by letting go a large amount of the old culture’s carriers – something that turnaround managers often do.

However, though the new leader is then starting fresh, and implementing the behaviour patterns and values they wish to see, it cannot be called a new culture until the employees internalise it and it has been successful for many years.

A new leader who imposes new values and behaviours has to do more than just hope that these new ideas result in improved performance. New leaders need to be clear about their expectations and goals, and how they will be implemented. They can also begin the work to dismantle the harmful attributes of the current culture while reinforcing the positive aspects, leading (hopefully) to increased performance.

Teams that are working under great leaders and within a culture that resonates with them are much more likely to be satisfied with their workplace, leading to a high retention rate and improved performance thanks to feeling motivated, respected and valued.

As mentioned above, you cannot just decide that you will have a new culture – culture is something that grows over many years and is successful, as well as being internalised by the employees. Leaders have a huge influence on the culture of a company, and so have a direct correlation with the performance of themselves and those they manage. Invest in great leaders who embody your culture (or the culture you wish to have) and you should see your organisation’s performance improving in no time.

Find out more about LeadershipHQ’s strategies and programs today for Corporates and SME’s today at www.leadershiphq.com.au

Bullying in the Workplace – Why is it Still so Common?

Bullying in the Workplace – Why is it Still so Common?

The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.

I am incredibly passionate about anti-bullying and stopping poor leadership. Imagine if it was your son, daughter or someone you loved that was being bullied at work. It is unacceptable and it is up to us to combat it.

You’ve probably heard on the news that Westmead Hospital in Sydney’s ICU had their training accreditation revoked, once bullying allegations came to light. The culprits? Senior medical staff who should definitely know better! As Brad Hazzard, NSW’s Health Minister put it: “There is absolutely not one millimetre of room for a culture of bullying or failure to provide respect to every staff member.”

Then, after the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Cricket Australia just a few days later, an independent review noted that employees were using bullying tactics and ostracising other team members in efforts to get their own way.

Safe Work Australia and the Fair Work Commission have been working hard for over 10 years to raise awareness of (and try to eliminate) workplace bullying, but it is still rife in workplaces all over the country – and the world! So why is bullying in the workplace still common?

Let’s take a step back and look at just what workplace bullying is defined as by Safe Work Australia:

● Victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening behaviour

● Repeated over time

● Excludes reasonable management action like speaking to someone about poor performance

● Can dovetail with sexual harassment or racism

The impact on the victims of this bullying (and any form of bullying) is huge. Victims can suffer often debilitating distress, take more days off ‘sick’, avoid the workplace as much as possible, and can’t complete their duties as effectively. In dollar form, lost productivity as a result of bullying costs up to $36 billion each year.

It also damages a business’s reputation, which can make or break an organisation. If the media gets wind of a bullying story that will sell, then the incident is broadcast to a large audience and makes it hard for the business to recover from – who would want to buy from or work for an organisation that is so publically plagued by accusations of bullying?

A study completed this year said that one in five workers have been bullied in the past twelve months, which is completely unacceptable.

There are some shocking statistics from a 2016 study of 34 European countries and their workplace environments, and Australia was found to have had the sixth highest rate of workplace bullying compared to the rest of the countries studied.

Within the previous six month period, 37% of respondents said they had been sworn or yelled at, 23% had been humiliated in front of others and 22% had been threatened or physically assaulted by clients/patients.

Workplace bullying is rife in health care, defence, electricity supply and government administration, but places that should be more progressive, like universities, are not exempt from bullying in the workplace.

Australian managers have unfortunately been taught that tough leadership is the best form of management and that the US culture of ‘management by fear’ is a legitimate way to motivate a team. It’s a quick slide from this type of management to straight up bullying behaviour.

It’s not just managers and bosses that are bullies, peers are also engaging in workplace bullying at an alarming rate. Whether they just don’t like a person or are acting out of jealousy when someone achieves more than they do, especially when managers use extremely competitive reward and incentive systems, bullying often becomes their way of expressing their jealousy and/or dislike.

You may be wondering what you can do to help stop this, and we have three suggestions for you and your company:

● Lead by example – have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to bullying. Those at the top set the example for those below.

● Regularly communicate, review and enforce complaints procedures and anti-bullying policies.

● Empower your employees to speak out – let them know they shouldn’t fear retribution, and that all concerns will be taken seriously.

In turn, we have found that organisations and businesses who invest in leadership coaching and training with a focus on personal leadership and social intelligence have had great results and performance with an increase in retention, engagement and productivity. Also they have been able to overcome bullying and poor leadership within their cultures.

It’s not always easy, but change never is. We all need to be more active in stamping out bullying in the workplace, so we can turn around the startling statistics and make every workplace a welcoming and comfortable environment, increasing employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity.

If you are interested in finding out how we can partner with you and build great leaders, leadership and cultures where your leaders are leading by example; contact LeadershipHQ for our cutting edge and high impact programs and strategies.

To speak with someone about any workplace bullying you’ve seen or experienced, you can contact:

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 46 36

Safe Work Australia – they’ll direct you to the relevant body in your state

5 Signs You’re a Brave Leader

5 Signs You’re a Brave Leader

The leaders who get the best results and achieve their goals are brave, even when times are tough. But bravery isn’t just about doing heroic things all the time; being vulnerable and other behaviours and attitudes are just as brave, so here are five signs that you’ve been a brave leader all along!

1.    You take responsibility & don’t blame others

Brave leaders are those who put their hand up and take responsibility for things, good or bad. They don’t throw anyone under the bus or try to shift blame; that’s what cowards do! Upper management will also appreciate this quality, so you’re showing your bravery by doing this.

2. You always act with integrity – no matter what

Leaders who act with integrity are especially great leaders because they do the right thing even when there is no one watching. People will see your reliability and trustworthiness when they know you’ll do what you say you will, and when you said you’d do it. Holding yourself accountable and sticking to commitments is one of the marks of an effective and brave leader.

3. You recognise loyalty & are loyal yourself

Being loyal to your team and your organisation as a whole may seem like an obvious sign, but if you’re loyal even when times are tough, that’s when you’re the bravest.

Recognising and appreciating loyalty is also brave; it takes courage to stand up for those who have stood by you, and showing appreciation in this way makes your relationship stronger as well.

4. You lead by example

Following on from having integrity (like we mentioned in point two) is leading by example and taking charge. Of course, leaders should delegate and instruct their team, but unless you’re doing as you say, you’re being hypocritical and that can lose you a lot of respect. Leading by example might not be noticed as quickly as other traits or behaviours, but you’ll continue being a brave leader if you keep doing what you know needs to be done, and doing it the same way you asked your team to do it.

5. You never give up, thanks to your sense of duty

Taking the easy way out by giving up and quitting is a sign of weakness, especially in leaders, because brave leaders feel a sense of duty to get the task done no matter what. Even if the job has a big chance of not being successful, or not being up to a high standard, your sense of duty means you’ll still do your very best. Brave leaders must have this quality, and it motivates your team when they look to you for guidance and see that you’re still forging ahead, despite reservations.

Hopefully, you see a few, if not all, of these signs in yourself as a leader. Either way, it gives you something to strive for and reflect on, which great leaders are always doing. Bravery isn’t always heroics, sometimes just being loyal and working hard makes you brave. Brave leaders are the ones that go on to achieve great things, so start practising being brave now!

If you truly want to be brave in 2019 – join The Leadership Collective or brave Summit today

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