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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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Thursday
Mar222018

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!

Thursday
Mar012018

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’.

Thursday
Feb012018

4 Reasons to be Receptive to What Others Think & Say 


If you want to increase the resonance and connection in your communications — whether that’s in how you hold a conversation with another person or how well you capture the attention of a room full of people — you need to be receptive to what others think and say.

Here's why:

1. It makes you a better listener — and we can all be better listeners. When you make a concerted effort to understand another's point of view (in other words, be willing to be less attached to your own view), you will not only hear better but you are more likely to hear nuances you would have missed. Nuances are the difference between feeling like you're discussing opposite points of view and knowing there is room for negotiation. Needless to say: priceless information.

2. It allows you to 'play back' and demonstrate awareness. One of the quickest ways to engage your reader or audience is to use some of the words or phrases they use to describe a problem or situation. Most organisations or departments have particular ways of talking about a project or issues — even creating slogans or statements to help guide the effort — be careful not to exclude others because ‘you all know what that means’.

3. It makes you more sensitive to what isn't being said. All of the skills discussed here help: listening well and demonstrating empathy allow you to be more perceptive about gaps, to frame and ask the right questions to elicit the information, and to help the other person feel more inclined to disclose information even if that might not reflect well on the organisation or leadership team. This is certainly a skill to hone and with practice you can distinguish when you are 'tapped in' and aware and when you are at risk of imputing motives.

4. It helps you to acknowledge the positives. The lure of being able to 'come in and solve the problem' is seductive — and not just for consultants! Of course, if you are a consultant, it is a large part of what you're being hired to do, but it isn't necessarily where you start. Consider too the new Board Director who can identify a change that would make meetings more effective or a new senior manager who knows how the team can set, and reach, breakthrough goals. Many times the organisation or department or Board or individual has already started to make changes or reach new goals, however incremental or remedial they might seem to new eyes, and these must be acknowledged. Everyone likes to be valued and appreciated — it's a basic desire built into our human nature. And when you acknowledge another person (or organisation or department) you open the door to share openly and build trust. 

Thursday
Dec072017

Keep your eye on what matters most [3 tips]

It’s understandable that at this time of year, things feel busy. Crazy busy.
 
Too busy.
 
And if you haven't yet mastered how to set and keep the boundaries that allow you to stay focused on your actual priorities then chances are you will be overwhelmingly busy.
 
You’ll feel frustrated and all too aware of how many demands there are for your attention.
 
But are you the one getting in your own way?
 
Are you sabotaging yourself? Even just a bit?
 
It goes without saying that you want to be a good leader.
 
But if good health, a relaxed body, an open mind, and quality time with the family are also on your list of goals for 2018 then take note of these 3 tips:

1. Remember this ‘not enough time’ feeling and how much you hate it for next year! Get into your schedule with your EA now and block off dates and times for next November and December (at least) to give you a fighting chance of being able to complete your actual priorities and real deadlines — the ones that matter —  and provide you with ‘time in the bank’ for when you need it. Don't release these dates and times unless it is an honest-to-goodness high-value priority that only you can do. Otherwise keep them blocked until the week they fall due and then decide how best to use that time. (This is Boundaries 101.)

If your diary is your touchstone and dictates all you do, then also commit time in it for this: reflection, review, imagining, insight-generation, personal and professional development, conversations that allow you to learn about other. 

2. Knock off the passive aggressive non-communicative isolationist behaviour! Do you avoid replying to emails because you don't have the headspace to deal with it, have to say no, or because you resent having to deal with it in the first place? Clean communications are one of the hallmarks of great leadership. You can't be stuck in resentment or ‘wish you didn't have to’ and be a good leader. You are, however, able to delegate. Do that, effectively and well. (This is Managing Expectations 101.)
Are you hiding in your schedule? Are you using your title and your calendar as a way to hide behind your importance or avoid engaging? Ask yourself: is that real leadership?
3. Stop with the back-to-back and busy busy. If this is your day-in day-out MO, you not only do a disservice to those you are meeting with, you prevent yourself from developing and displaying genuine leadership authority — and getting the results (and reputation) you need in the short- and long term. You rob yourself of the chance to think critically and generate insights. Critical thinking and generating insights are the currency of your leadership. (This is Self Awareness 101.)
***
 
You’ve got to get out of the day-to-day fighting fires and business-as-usual mentality to do your job and elevate your leadership.
 
I’m not one for new years resolutions, but I do love a good dose of resolve.
 
How about you?



 

Wednesday
Nov152017

’Tis the season for feedback

Is it possible to observe and identify the good and the bad in others (‘the strengths and the opportunities’), particularly those who report to you? What might influence you without your being aware of it?

Do you know your own blindspots and biases?

I suggest that if you are not fully aware of your own blindspots and biases then it is not possible for you to be fully objective about others.
 
And you must bear this idea in mind when giving — and getting — feedback.

Working on stage has given me an interesting take on feedback and blindspots.
 
When you work in theatre, you are constantly getting feedback: from your
Director, from your Stage Manager, from your cast, the audience, the
critics, and even the furniture.
 
That's because the feedback isn't always formal.

Sometimes it's minor course correction (can we re-block this move to get you downstage without clipping that damn chair?); sometimes it's mirroring (I was flat tonight — no wonder the audience was so quiet); sometimes it's curiosity (why did you smile tonight on that line? It worked so well!); sometimes it's advice (your costume change is too slow — if we set up a blue light and mirror in the wings it'll be faster); and sometimes the feedback is biased and irrational (I don't know why I expected to like it — I've never liked her in anything).
 
The feedback is available from all directions. It can help you or it can just get in your head. Some of it feels useful; some of it irrelevant; and some of it too much about the person giving it.
 
The Director's feedback, however, is key.
The Director is the one you trust to see what you cannot.  
A good Director sets clear boundaries so you know when there is time and opportunity to push back or discuss and when it is time to simply accept direction and act, literally.
And a good Director understands the need for all of those dynamics to be part of the process: push back, discuss further, just do it.
 
You want that kind of environment too when you are giving, and receiving, feedback in your reviews.
 
Knowing our own blindspots requires us to see what we can’t — yeah ;) — so it can be challenging to be objective. Which is why it’s our responsibility to be able to question any feedback that doesn't feel right or relevant for us.

HEADS UP: This is not the same as being pre-emptively defensive about receiving any feedback.
 
And when we are the ones giving the feedback we need to stay alert to the responses and reactions — verbal and non verbal — that will clue us in on if and why someone might be having trouble hearing what we're saying.
 
Unfortunately though many review conversations are fuzzy.
 
If you’re being told you need to show more of something (gravitas, undefined, seems to be the leadership quality du jour), or you're being advised to stop a certain behaviour that doesn't feel like it was ever yours, then don't be shy about asking my favourite question:

can you give me a specific example of what you mean by that please?

If they don't have the specifics of a situation or can't fully explain a recommendation and set clear expectations about what exactly they are asking to see more of, then they haven't prepped or they are winging it or they are hiding behind the inherent power dynamic of reviews. Sorry to say this happens more than we’d like.
 
If it’s your review, then it’s your meeting. It’s up to you to get the right information that you need. And the best way is to ask for it.

(And most clear-thinking well adjusted individuals will welcome your active participation, respect the push to clarify and amplify their own thinking, and appreciate the opportunity to co-create what comes next.) 

***

How are you preparing to give and receive feedback this year?