Article Sign Up

Don't miss my articles
on Authoritas.
Find out more here »

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.

More about Jacquie »

Search

Follow me on TwitterConnect with me on LinkedInLike me on Facebook

Friday
Nov162018

Authoritas: a leadership approach for turbulent times

Sometimes we find ourselves facing the unexpected — a situation or event that we did not ask or plan for. 
 
How we react and respond in these times is the real test of our leadership.
 
Because leadership does not require a title (although many leaders have one) and it does not require hundreds or thousands (or millions) of followers.
 
We are all leaders.
 
And we can all demonstrate Authoritas.

Just like excellence is not the norm, but is a reward for those who do the extra work, then Authoritas is the standard of leadership that goes beyond ‘taking charge’ and ‘making decisions’ and calls into service those esteemed qualities of integrity, gravitas, authority, courage, compassion, empathy, self-awareness, critical thinking and discipline.

And just as there is no one brand of excellence, there is also no one ‘right way’ to lead.
 
But like all high quality experiences, like all forms of excellence, we know great and inspired and trustworthy leadership when we see it.
 
We recognise Authoritas without having to be told what ‘it’ is.

Authoritas sets you apart just as excellence sets you apart.
 
One of the core aspects of Authoritas is the question: who am I willing to be?
 
Having to meet the situation that is can be overwhelming and the attendant disbelief and frustration can easily lead to inertia and even complacency.
 
It’s human nature to try and hold the status quo no matter what.
 
And sometimes meeting the situation that is hurtles us into high emotion, which can be a wonderful catalyst for swift action.
 
As an Authoritas leader, if the strategic response is quiet inaction (for now), then hold that state with disciplined awareness and integrity and clear-sighted critical judgement.
 
As an Authoritas leader, if the strategic response is swift action, then undertake that with decisiveness and compassion and full accountability.
 
Not surprisingly, when we’re talking about Authoritas at senior levels, a high level of self-care is not weak nor is it optional — it is mandatory.
 
Because you know the saying ‘give until it hurts’? Well, that’s where you need to be playing: for your organisation, for your people, for your community.
 
The Authoritas leader knows that it’s not just learning that comes from outside the comfort zone – that’s where leading happens too.

Your mission is to continue to ask and reflect on these ‘open’ questions:
  • How am I inclusive? (And how do I know this is true?)
  • What are my secret fears and doubts — and how are they likely to show up in my decision making (or inaction) when I am fatigued or stressed?
  • Why am I putting off the final sign-off of an initiative that I know we must take?
  • How do I renew my resolve and hold myself accountable to what I say I, and we, stand for?

Who are you willing to be?
 
If you or your team need to bolster the critical thinking skills, perspective-taking practices and the critical leadership comms practices or want to increase the level of difference you can make, then please reach out.
 
I’d feel proud to help you fully embody Authoritas.

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.