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About Jacquie

Jacquie Molloy guides senior leaders to develop and display leadership authority (what she calls Authoritas); helps Boards to discover the power (and imperative) of exploring differences of opinion through Debate; and shares the practices for personal authority, high-performing teams and cultural excellence with individuals and organisations so they can be Visible in all the right ways.

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Friday
Aug312018

Context & Perception

What were you doing before you opened this email?

It’s an important question to keep in mind when you are prepping a presentation; when you have been invited to present at a meeting (but not attend all of it), when you are writing a Board paper or other kind of pre-read … when you are writing or preparing any communication.

It’s not enough to tell your story well — you need to tell the right story for this specific purpose and this particular reader (or set of readers or audience) at this time.

This is a common area that can trip people up or become a blindspot. And that’s a problem because it’s going to interfere with your ability to lead (or create the rep you want).

Because the foundation of practical and effective leadership is excellent communications.

Being very clear about ‘audience and purpose’ is an essential part of preparing great comms. And part of that prep work is understanding the context you are communicating in.

What has the reader, or audience, been doing?

Where is their head?

Will they be able to go from 0 to 100?

How can you help them be where they need to be in order to hear what you have to say?

Thursday
Aug162018

How to stay in the game

I bet you know this pattern: work builds up and we live at a frenzied pace for a while and then it completes or reaches a pause and the sudden stop throws us.

Or we get sick. Or our heads explode.

And when we get wise to this we start paying closer attention. That starts with us saying: ‘I hope I don't get sick. I always get sick when I go on holidays.’ (That’s awareness.)

Next stage is we reach for supplements or good food or exercise – all in lieu of sleep and quality rest most likely ­– as a way of minimising the effects of living in deficit and preparing for the sudden stop and collapse that is on its way.

(That’s prevention-ish; it can't hurt but it might not be enough to meet the monster head on.)

But at this level, you're looking for mastery.

You must pay attention to three areas: mental, physical and emotional.

Indeed your goal is to make it ‘life as usual’ in many respects — and possibly even better than ‘life as usual’. 

This isn't about perfection and never getting sick again.

But it is a willingness and commitment to maintain a level of practice.

Think of it as 3 areas of action.

  1. Shift, and strengthen, your mindset.

You'll always be at risk if your pattern is high intensity madness followed by a sudden stop.

Rather, like any athlete who must train, race and recover (and then do it again) knows, it is best done in tapered stages. And if you run or ride, you’ll know that the ‘speed’ or ‘smash’ is not the hardest part of your session, but rather those first 30 seconds when you drop back after holding a high speed or pace. 

That's when you really feel the burn and in training that’s where the focus is: learning to maintain a slow and steady drop back to — and hold at — the place where it burns the most.

Master that discomfort and you will be much stronger.

Your mindset shift is one that both allows you and encourages you to maintain some tension after the deadline even when you don't have to.

2. Pay attention to your physical needs: good food, regular exercise and quality rest.

Not rocket science right? But it’s amazing how quick we are to sacrifice some or all of these essentials to the dark altar of work, work, work and whatever other chaos we try to cram into our schedule.

When things heat up, you want to also activate any and all ‘extreme self care’ practices. (And if you think that sounds weak in any way, you have your priorities upside down. You want to stay in action, right?)

Self care also includes creating an environment of physical comfort and pleasure and support — especially when you are travelling and away from home.

3. Clarify your priorities (and generate some pride).

You can only maintain disciplined action when you know that it’s necessary and will get you closer to something even better.

When your tasks and actions are aligned with a strategy you believe in and your true priorities, then you also get to feel good and proud about your accomplishments.

Rather than being a negative, I believe that pride can be an engine, providing the fuel you need to stay in the game.

Good habits don't have to be 100% every day to be effective. “More days than not” is sometimes the best we can do.

But you don't have to get sick when you stop or go on holidays.

Overwhelm is a choice. And we have more say over the quality of our our day-to-day lives than we (choose to) think.

What say you? 

Friday
Jul202018

Leadership gaffes big and small

What a week!
 
Watching DJT’s European trip and Helsinki press conference and then the aftermath, including his – and his spokespeople’s — poorly executed walk-backs has been an alarming experience.
 
(Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you what I think about all this with my ‘comms fixer’ hat on.)
 
If we consider leaders — and the various archetypes of leaders (which is to say the patterns of behaviour associated with different types of leaders) — then DJT is about as full bodied representation of the shadow leader archetype as you can be.
 
He is the anti-king. Not a full tyrant or despot (yet!). But certainly not a benevolent provider whose mission is to benefit those in his charge.
 
Rather his behaviour — and never more so than this past week, writ large on the world stage — displays four obvious shadow traits:

  1. Leaning towards excessive entitlement
  2. Annoyance with, and punishment of, those who disagree and dissent
  3. Reluctance to hear a range of voices and views
  4. Inability to promote others’ ideas above his own (except in vague ‘everyone’, ‘lots of people’ and ‘nobody’ ways)

But this is an extreme situation surely … our CEOs and Chairs and those most senior execs are not DJT and our Australian business culture in 2018 cannot accommodate such poor leadership.
 
Well, friends, let me draw back the curtain for you. Because in my conversations with many senior leaders — those who have become clients and those who have not — I have seen and heard it all.
 
And in those conversations and confidences shared and problems solved, I’ve seen, and learned about, behaviours that, left unexamined, are precisely the factors that go on to cause career stalls, culture crashes, high pot exits and weak legacies (not to mention bad headlines and public scrutiny). 

Behaviours like:

  • Can’t/won’t say no in the room (keep people guessing and situations open-ended)
  • Avoid interactions with those who make them feel uncomfortable (regardless of where that person sits in the org) or who feel too ‘unlike’ them
  • Have poor emotional intelligence (EQ) and/or have difficulty demonstrating empathy and humility — especially in their managing down or in shareholder communications
  • Don't ‘appreciate’ being called out on their behaviour or shortcomings and so actively design their schedules and team practices to safeguard against it (easier to be 'too busy')
  • Lead with their title – sometimes literally but most often using the implied superiority of their position to insulate and intimidate.

Some of this is conscious; some not.
 
My point is this: it’s all very well and good to point and stare at leadership train wrecks on the world stage, but you don't have to go full-DJT to be a poor leader or cause chaos in your organisation and uncertainty in your direct reports.
 
Leadership is a tricky business and you cannot underestimate the impact of these quieter and less obvious 'gaffes' and omissions.
 
Keep your eye on what’s important. Be self aware. Stay sharp. 

Friday
Jun292018

What are you doing?

reflect
verb
turn one’s thoughts (back), fix the mind or attention, ponder, meditate; employ reflection.

1 July marks the beginning of the second half of the year, the third quarter and the start of a new financial year.
 
That’s reason enough to pause and ask yourself:

  1. How am I showing up in my role? and what is the evidence for my thinking this?
  2. What are my priorities for the rest of this year — not my wishlist, not my rolling to-do list, not my ‘what I think I should do’ list, but my priorities?
  3. What do I need to let go of — for good, no messing around this time?

 

TIP: change your environment and speak your answers out loud to generate insights and enhance this reflection practice.

You can go for a walk with headphones — with or without your phone ;) — because just talking to yourself can be a helpful way to think through ideas. 

You can also write this down — but if you do, make yourself use longhand as if you were writing a letter. Why? Because the ways you put context around your thoughts and create connections between ideas can reveal much to you about what's important and why.

What will you commit to change to enhance your resilience, productivity and reputation in the second half of this year?
 
Conversation is where it all happens!
Would you like to have a conversation about YOU?
I’m holding time in my diary next week to do just that with some of you, my valued client community.

 

Thursday
Jun142018

Fusion vs Compartmentalising

In his latest book, Year of the Mad King: the Lear Diaries, the renowned British stage actor Sir Antony Sher recounts an exchange in China about that culture’s time-honoured approach to acting.
 
Chinese tradition holds that there are four stages of acting:

  1. Resemblance — or your looks (importance 3/10)
  2. Strength and presence — your charisma (importance 6/10)
  3. Heart — your emotional truth (importance 8/10)
  4. Fusion — when all your natural attributes, and all your current work, have mixed together and soaked into you, becoming an effortless, unconscious thing, which then rises out again, transformed into the character’s spirit (scores the top mark of 10/10).

And, as Sher notes in his book, what is most valued in the Chinese tradition is also the most valued in the western acting tradition.
 
As I was reading this, I was thinking about it from various perspectives: actor, audience and C-Suite advisor and comms coach. 
 
There is a great message here for us in our roles — and one that is in keeping with my work, which centres around Authoritas.
 
What is Authoritas?
 
It is the ability to be present, listen deeply and act with confidence and wisdom.
 
It is the courage to continually extend ourselves outwardly and inwardly.
 
It is not obsessing about whether we will fail or if this part or that part of us will make us more or less likeable.
 
Rather it is the preparedness to make decisions and act when others might want to hold back and get more information before they have to choose or commit.
 
Authoritas is real know-it-when-you-see-it leadership authority.
 
What allows others to see this in you?
 
There is a key that unlocks Authoritas even before you think you have achieved the ‘required’ status of a true leader.
 
That key is your permission and self-awareness to bring all of you into your role.
 
In other words: fusion.
 
Compartmentalising is a useful tactic when we need it most: when we have to shut out distractions or emotional upset and focus on the task at hand. It’s a necessary tactic when we have to put one foot in front of the other and not disappear into overwhelm.
 
It’s a short-term tactic, not a day-to-day strategy.
 
Instead: claim all of you. Fusion.

**

PS All of Antony Sher's character prep diaries are brilliant reads. He is considered one of the greatest Shakespearan actors (by me too!). Also no slouch as writer and painter.