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


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!


Inevitable or conditional?

When we first hear or think about doing something new, something different, we run it through a filter that comes from our beliefs, our experience and our general attitude to the world around us.
When we don't challenge ourselves, our automatic response is likely to come from one of two premises — 1) impossible: ‘it can't be done’ or 2) conditional: ‘it will only work if …’ or ‘it can only be done when …’.
At work and in teams, we’re conditioned to not voice the impossible response (even though we might think it). So it’s the conditional that shows up most often as our first response.
You might know it best as ‘yes, but …’
These auto-responses — and the beliefs that underlie them — can make achieving new (or stretch) results and states challenging. And it can make it particularly hard when we are trying to bring along teams, divisions, or even a whole organisation.

If you want your people to fully embrace their part in making a change effort successful or improving performance (without assuming that it can only be done with more resources), you need to disrupt the 'yes but' auto-response and instead insert a third possibility into your culture: inevitable.

What will it take for you and your people to look at a challenge and consider its achievement an inevitable outcome? No ifs, buts, or whens.
It starts with your behaviour and beliefs. Always.

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.
— Christopher Reeve

Challenge yourself to move through the stages of impossible and improbable/conditional at lightning speed so you can arrive — ahem, inevitably — at the inevitable sooner.
How will you do that?

  • Adopt a rock-solid leadership mindset — be the person who believes it will be inevitable. Do what it takes to be inspiring and motivating and able to provide clear, unambiguous, impossible to misunderstand direction: learn, be coached, expand your perspectives. Model that instead of getting stuck in the usual back-to-back busy busy business-as-usual or you will fail to lead.
  • Create the right environment — foster cooperation and collaboration and trust. (Do you know how to do that?) Don't punish failure; punish failure to cooperate. (For more on the role of failure in creating inevitable outcomes, look at Six Simple Rules - How to Manage Complexity Without Getting Complicated by BCG partners Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman.)
  • Monitor your communications and the level of accountability you model — this includes your language to others. Make sure your teams know, for example, that a goal must be achieved (not ‘should’ be). Be able to push and pull. And make sure you have someone, or a system, to hold you accountable — always.

Envision, work and lead as if the positive results were inevitable.

Make it so.
— Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise ;)

Stop existing on the plane of ‘yes, but’ — unless, of course, you are consciously and deliberately adopting a contrarian stance to create a richer conversation and a wider perspective.
Want to have a conversation about this? It’s one of my favourite aspects of leadership to teach and support. If you’re ready to go deeper, get in touch!


The perfect introduction

I’ve just helped a client to quickly outline a presentation and introduced him to my go-to framework for any introduction you make when on your feet and in front of a group.

It’s referred to as P-P-P.

PURPOSE  why you’re here/why this topic/why today

PROCESS  how the ‘session’ will work/what you’ll talk about

PAYOFF  what they’ll get, or understand, as a result/what makes it valuable

It’s simple because introductions should be simple.

Introductions — on the page or on stage — are scene-setters, not ‘content’. They only need to be as long as is necessary to get the audience where you need them to be to ‘hear’ what you have to say (or be ready to participate). 

By the way, P-P-P is also a great planning tool.

I’m delivering a bespoke module for a Board & Exec offsite soon and, as we plan out the whole day, it’s useful to see at a glance how my module fits in and links with the bigger themes. P-P-P allows me to very quickly provide a clear and logical ‘topline’.