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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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Tuesday
May222018

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!

Wednesday
Apr112018

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!

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.