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 »


Follow me on TwitterConnect with me on LinkedInLike me on Facebook


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. 


What are you doing?

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.



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. 


Are your conversations rich enough?

Conversation is where it all happens.
You hear yourself have to put logic and reasoning around emotion and energy and you hear others do the same.
In the big scheme of things, conversation creates community. In our teams and departments, it’s also how we create community — and collegiality.
And it’s how we collaborate and bring different perspectives and ideas into the mix.
There’s a trap that some fall into. They can judge too easily (by default — which is to say, unconsciously — or with full awareness) where they assume the valued contribution will come from.
Yes folks we’re talking about diversity and inclusion.
Diversity — gender, age, race, religion, cultural tradition, geography, tenure and type of education or background — allows us all to experience a full range of perspectives.
It creates a different lens through which to observe, digest, question, solve.
Not surprisingly, organisations and teams that truly value diversity develop a greater capacity to adapt and ... wait for it ... innovate. 
(By the way, saying you value diversity is simply lip service if your habits, behaviours and practices in all facets of operations do not 100% reflect inclusion.)
Even though diversity and inclusion are hot topics, many organisations, boards and teams take a too slow incremental approach or simply resist altering the status quo at all.
They resist because of the way they perceive challenges of unifying those differences and the mess and change it could create. "Disruptive!"
I’m not the first to point out that this, ironically, is exactly the argument for promoting diversity. It’s hard to be stiff and antiquated and diverse; shielded and entrenched and also inclusive.  

People generally think that teams that work together harmoniously are better and more productive than teams that don’t.

But in a study we conducted on symphonies, we actually found that grumpy orchestras played together slightly better than orchestras in which all the musicians were really quite happy.
That’s because the cause-and-effect is the reverse of what most people believe: when we’re productive and we’ve done something good together (and are recognized for it), we feel satisfied, not the other way around.
In other words, the mood of the orchestra members after a performance says more about how well they did than the mood beforehand.
— Diane Coutu, author of How Resilience Works
from an article ‘Why Teams Don't Work’, May 2009

How rich are your team’s conversations?
How well are you able to recognise and subvert the dynamics that have become entrenched over time and might now be amplifying some voices and diminishing others?
If you’d like some ideas on how to reset dynamics and make sure your teams are able to canvass, discuss and debate the ideas and issues that are mission-critical, let me know and we can set up a time for rich conversation!


Words (and ideas) matter

Fabulous podcast (or broadcast) for you from the Wheeler Centre’s Fifth Estate series.
Sally Warhaft interviews Pat Cunnane, who was senior writer and Deputy Director for Messaging for President Obama. In that capacity Cunane helped Obama determine where it would be most effective for him to spend time and which interviews he should do, and what he would say, and how it might best be framed …
It’s a great 1-hour chat — ahead of the release of Cunnane’s new book, West Winging It: An Unpresidential Memoir.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!