Self Leadership and
The New Leadership Playbook
Blog by Andrew Bryant

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The Absence of Collaboration is Costly

Collaboration is the behavior of working with others, in-person or virtually, to produce something. It is the nature of business and a key factor for success, yet it is often lacking.

Some years ago, I was asked to run a conflict management training for a software company in Singapore, I explained to the client that giving people conflict management strategies is a great idea, but the conflict would remain unless the underlying causes of the conflict were addressed. I asked:

"Who is in conflict with whom, and about what?’"

With more gentle probing, I discovered that the engineering team was motivated and rewarded to keep the servers online and secure. The innovation team was motivated and rewarded for developing new solutions and selling them to market.

‘I’m curious,’ I probed further. ‘Does the innovation team need to test their beta software on the engineering team’s servers?’

The answer was...

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Leaders are Failing to Engage Employees on Social Platforms

You might think that after pandemic-induced remote and hybrid work leaders would have embraced social collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Yammer, or Facebook Workplace.

A recent report by Knowman showed that the effect of the pandemic has been that 64% of organizations indicate an increase in leadership activity on their chosen social platform but only 18% of leaders use the platform to create dialogue around important topics, and only 8% have a structured approach for doing so. 

When I was researching for 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸: 𝗕𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗛𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗪𝗵𝗶𝗹𝘀𝘁 𝗦𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗳𝘂𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗗𝗲𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗔𝗰𝗰𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘀 (Ocean Reeve Publishing 2022), I spoke to many leaders who were looking forward to putting the pandemic behind them, getting everyone back to work, and returning to traditional management techniques. This traditional mindset ignores, at great cost, the gains made through collaboration, team performance, and employee engagement that mature...

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Leadership Styles for the New Workplace

Imagine you are traveling on a plane, there's a loud bang, and the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling. 

The pilot comes out of the cockpit and says either:

a) “Obviously there's a bit of a problem, can you get into small groups and discuss options, as I would like full buy-in before I make a decision.” 

Or

b) “Ladies and gentlemen, put on your oxygen masks and remain calm; we are experiencing some difficulties but I will get us out of this”? 

You chose b) right?

Clearly, in this situation, a crisis, a directive, or autocratic leadership style is appropriate and even appreciated.

At the start of the pandemic, I was coaching senior leaders to be more directive to give clear leadership and a sense that someone was in control - even if they were making adjustments on a daily basis.

Now, that we are used to living with Covid, and have adapted to a high level of autonomy with work-from-home, is a directive leadership style desirable or...

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The Best Leadership Book

In nearly twenty-five years of writing about, speaking about, coaching and facilitating leadership, clients often ask me, ‘What is the best leadership book?’ or ‘If I was to read one leadership book, what would it be?’

Best is subjective and depends on where a leader is on their journey. For me, leadership always starts with self-leadership or personal mastery. After all, how can you lead others if you can’t lead yourself?

Prior to writing, ‘Self Leadership – How to be a more successful, efficient, and effective leader from the inside out (McGraw Hill 2012’, I would have said the best self-leadership book would have been ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. 7 Habits is still a must-read for self and time management.

But what about the best leadership book? There are so many, and each covers different definitions of leadership; some are more strategic focus, whereas others are strictly about management. I would...

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Driving as a Metaphor for Life, Career and Leadership

 

In my 2012 book with Dr. Ana Kazan, ‘Self Leadership – How to Become a More Successful Efficient and Effective Leader from the Inside Out’, we asked are you the Driver or the Passenger of your Life?

Self-leadership, and whether you are the ‘driver’ of your life and career depends on accessing the self-confidence to exercise your autonomy (ownership) over your thinking, feeling, and actions.  Passengers, by contrast, wait to be told what to do for fear of failure or because they lack the self-belief that they can.

I recently heard from one of my executive coaching clients that he would be promoted before he expected.

“How do you feel?” I asked.
“I don’t feel ready”, was the reply.

This is interesting because, in my experience, how ready we are for a new challenge depends on our willingness to get comfortable with the unfamiliar and our belief in our ability to learn.

Learning to Drive - Again

I have recently moved from...

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The Cost of Speaking Up – Conflict and Communication

You probably have first-hand experience of conflict and issues with communication, and you have likely struggled with whether you should speak up, or not.

As an executive and leadership coach, I regularly hear of the problems people face in getting heard, the ‘right way’ and I even teach a class on conflict and communication at Singapore Management University, but if you think this means I don’t mess up, you would be mistaken. In this post I will share a framework and my own experience because I have come to realize:

“We teach best what we most need to learn.”

Culture, gender, age, and personality are just some of the factors that complicate communication and lead to conflict. I am a nearly 60-year-old, university-educated, white male, whose personality is high on directness and only moderate on diplomacy. I work with both Asian and North American clients and yet the challenge to speak up without causing conflict is a common problem.

The Cost of...

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Remote Work, here to stay or part of a Hybrid Model?

Remember back in 2013, when an employee (Bob) outsourced his job and was fired?

Before being fired, Bob was considered a ‘model employee’, his work was above par, his code was clean, well-written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, Bob’s performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.

In many ways, Bob was a 'man before his time'. He chose to spend one-fifth of his salary to free up his life, reduce his stress, and ensure he hit his targets. Companies in 2013 had different criteria, they liked to ‘keep an eye’ on who was doing the work, for both productivity and security reasons.

With the pandemic hitting in 2020, and most people working from home, ‘keeping an eye’ on people seems less important, and keeping employees healthy, well-balanced with manageable stress is much more so. Security will remain a concern, but solutions have been found for that.

The Future of Remote Work is Hybrid

The future is...

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Leadership and the Power of ‘AND’

Nigel is sitting in his manager’s office for his annual performance review. It had been a tough year, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic had decimated his plans for Q1 and Q2, but Nigel had put in a superhuman effort and hit targets in Q3. Nigel was expecting nothing but praise for his efforts, so imagine his surprise when he heard the following,

“You have met your Q3 quota, Nigel, but I have some concerns about how you got there”.

All Nigel heard was, “But we have some concerns.”

The word, ‘but’ has the effect of negating everything that proceeds it.

Imagine you and I met, and I said, “I really like you but…”

You would be on the defensive for criticism, even though I prefaced with, “I really like you.”

‘But’; is judgmental and is generally perceived as negative. For example, “I want to do this, but I can’t.”

‘But’ often creates the frame of limited choice. For...

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Leading Virtual Teams during Crisis

Virtual Teams or virtual team members have been a business reality for many years, however during the current crisis, with stay-at-home orders, the need to lead has increased. As I coach senior leaders to navigate this current storm, I’m often asked for strategies to effectively lead a virtual team and so here are Seven of my best.

With each member of a team remotely located and no opportunity for a face-to-face meeting, there are both challenges and opportunities for the new or established team leader. We have a new ‘level playing field’ where everyone is working and communicating virtually. Gone is the proximity bias, where those in the same location could network face-to-face and build collaboration. Finally, those that have been working in remote hubs have an advantage, in that they are already acclimated to remote technology and communication.

With the crisis creating a ‘reset’, there is an opportunity for leadership to harness the ‘power of...

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