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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
Aug102017

The simple Authoritas hack*

* hack, meaning 'shortcut'

Recently on the The West Wing Weekly podcast, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared his love and appreciation for The West Wing and admitted to re-watching the debate episodes as a way to help prep for his own debates.
 
To get him in the mood. To help him channel and believe in the articulation of values as always appropriate. To remind him of the virtue of being smart and progressive.



I’ve often used The West Wing (and other of Aaron Sorkin’s works) — as many of you know — to inspire and amplify exec and leadership behaviours, especially when it comes to communications. For myself and for my clients.
 
Many years ago now one of my clients referred to me as his very own Sam Seabourne, which was (and is) high praise —  and made my day! And I’ve written before about how I have drawn on Sorkin and Seabourne and other ‘comms heroes’ in my work —  most notably back in 2010, when Rob Lowe (Mr Seabourne himself) retweeted about it ;)



Listen to PM Trudeau on The West Wing Weekly podcast. If you want to skip straight to Trudeau, it’s around the last 30 minutes. The episode they are discussing by the way is WW Episode 15 of Season 3: Dead Irish Writers.

Wednesday
Jul192017

Behaviour + Comms = Followership (or not)

You might think that the incredibly poor behaviour of a lawyer representing a President of The United States, who himself has demonstrated some outrageously shocking behaviour is not relevant to you, today, in your role.

You’d be wrong.
 
The incident I’m talking about — and so well framed and positioned by the redoubtable Lawrence O’Donnell in the 7’ video —  is simply an amplified version of many smaller, but still damaging, reputational sins committed day in and day out by people in positions of power and authority. Including, perhaps, you.

Often times the mindset and feelings behind these behaviours — big and small — come from a sense of entitlement. The person believes they have the power to behave how they choose, or they believe they have the power, or they feel that they are without power and must dominate in whatever way they can to establish a sense of authority.
 
Are we human? Do we mess up? Of course we do: on occasion. What we are hunting for here are patterns, habits and underlying beliefs.
 
Here’s a quick checklist – by no means exhaustive – that might help you to uncover some behaviour, mindsets and attitudes to clean up lest they influence your reputation and limit your leadership potential:

  • Ask yourself why you don’t respond to some emails and calls (or make arrangements to delegate or otherwise manage expectations). (It’s never about time – we always make time for that which is important and can set up systems and safeguards for when we are unusually busy. If you need a reminder, read this.)

  • Ask yourself if the way you treat your assistant — or someone else’s assistant — is kind or polite or generous.(This behaviour is one to clean up immediately — you are sabotaging yourself.)

  • Ask yourself if your email response should be sent — if there is any doubt that you could be considered abrupt or rude then 1) reflect on what is really at stake/going on, 2) prepare yourself and your energy and 3) pick up the phone instead. (Have you avoided using the phone?)

  • Ask yourself if you get bored, check your phone, inappropriately interrupt or even leave the room if someone ‘lower than you’ in a meeting or offsite is presenting or asking a question. (How can you encourage and shape their development instead?)

  • Ask yourself if you know them well enough to make that ‘joke’. If it has to do with the other person and you have to explain that you were joking then it isn’t funny and you have either confused or offended them unnecessarily or, worse, sent a strong (negative) signal about your own behaviour and character. (Making people smile and chuckle is a beautiful thing; trying to come off as a smart ass, not so much.)

The Authoritas leader understands that their behaviour and communications — formal, informal and interpersonal — is entirely what creates their followership.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

Friday
Jun232017

The Power Paradox

100 years before Lord Acton said that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, the British PM Pitt the Elder said more precisely: ‘Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it’. It turns out he was more right than he could have known.
 
In this month’s The Atlantic there is a fantastic piece on power and the brain: ‘Power Causes Brain Damage’.

In the article, Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, explains that in his studies over 20 years he has found that those under the influence of power ‘acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view’.
 
Keltner has termed this the power paradox.

Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.

And Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, describes that when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy.
 
Empathy is what influences us to be kind.
 
Kindness and compassion are central elements of what I call Authoritas (along with gravitas and authority and credibility and presence).

Because leadership is so much more than power. It is something quite different – even though power and authority usually come with the territory.
 
Power, the research says, primes our brain to screen out peripheral information. In many situations, this allows us to become more efficient. At the start. What happens to us (and those around us) after that will depend on how isolated you have allowed yourself to become in that coveted role.
 
The problem is that leadership roles at the most senior levels are isolated.
 
So what will you do to ensure you remain grounded, to ensure you consciously explore your capacity for empathy and compassion, to ensure you demonstrate kindness?
 
Do you need a toe-holder perhaps?

“Toe holder,” is a term once used by the political adviser Louis Howe to describe his relationship with the four-term President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom Howe never stopped calling Franklin.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Friday
Jun232017

The Power Paradox

100 years before Lord Acton said that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, the British PM Pitt the Elder said more precisely: ‘Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it’. It turns out he was more right than he could have known.
 
In this month’s The Atlantic there is a fantastic piece on power and the brain: ‘Power Causes Brain Damage’.

In the article, Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, explains that in his studies over 20 years he has found that those under the influence of power ‘acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view’.
 
Keltner has termed this the power paradox.

Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.

And Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, describes that when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy.
 
Empathy is what influences us to be kind.
 
Kindness and compassion are central elements of what I call Authoritas (along with gravitas and authority and credibility and presence).

Because leadership is so much more than power. It is something quite different – even though power and authority usually come with the territory.
 
Power, the research says, primes our brain to screen out peripheral information. In many situations, this allows us to become more efficient. At the start. What happens to us (and those around us) after that will depend on how isolated you have allowed yourself to become in that coveted role.
 
The problem is that leadership roles at the most senior levels are isolated.
 
So what will you do to ensure you remain grounded, to ensure you consciously explore your capacity for empathy and compassion, to ensure you demonstrate kindness?
 
Do you need a toe-holder perhaps?

“Toe holder,” is a term once used by the political adviser Louis Howe to describe his relationship with the four-term President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom Howe never stopped calling Franklin.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Friday
Jun092017

Your reputation

Reputation is often how you are first known to others. And its power is how it makes people respond to you — in other words, it can be seen as one of your tools of influence. 
 
Even if you aren't actively creating your reputation or legacy, it is going to happen anyway. Others will make it for you based on their interpretation of your actions and behaviours, particularly when under pressure or less-than-ideal circumstances.
 
One of the challenges for new CEOs, Chairs and Senior Execs is to stop and get very clear about what they stand for and how they will model this actively in their leadership style and their communications no matter what.

(I've lost count, and you probably have to, of how many senior leaders are called on to make an apology on behalf of themselves or their organisation and shot themselves in the foot while doing it. Can they reclaim their previous reputation? Yes, reputational rehab is possible, but it's a hard slog that starts with damage repair, and who wants to put their hand up for that?)

 

  • What do I stand for? What am I
    known for?
  • What is my communications style?
  • How do I demonstrate accountability?
  • How do I model the values that I/we say I/we stand for?
  • Do I make others wait for me?
    Am I responsive?

 

… and how does how you handle email affect your reputation? 
 
A Forbes article on this subject back in 2013 noted that one of the ways to ruin your professional reputation is to be unresponsive — especially to email:

'… many make the mistake of thinking that not responding to an email means they have said “no” or communicated that they’re unavailable. Instead, it makes others wonder if you received the message at all, if you’re waiting to make a decision or if you’re just avoiding them. It’s rude. Even if the answer isn’t what they want to hear, show the other person the respect of responding.'


(So, if you need to, get more help from your assistant to triage emails and manage others' expectations if you’d prefer to respond yourself. And while you are at it, make sure you have set expectations around acceptable email standards, including what you should - and should not - be cc'd on and the upfront inclusion of a clear 'required action' on all direct emails.)

Take a silent inventory right now of your habits and practices and behaviours over the last quarter and think about how they reflect on your reputation — within the team, throughout the organisation, in the industry, to the media.

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