Kids these days

A friend of mine is a teacher in America. She’s been teaching a long time. As she was thinking about the start of the new year she posted this…

The climate of education has changed a lot since I started teaching sixteen years ago, but do you know what hasn’t changed? Kids. Despite what some will tell you, “kids these days”, at their core, are the same as they have always been: they are funny, they are figuring things out, they want to please, and they desperately want to know that someone sees them.

I’ll say a bit of that again.

They are figuring things out, they want to please, and they desperately want to know that someone sees them.

I strikes me that this applies to just about everyone I know.

Sure. You could probably name a couple of people who don’t “want to please” anyone at all and maybe even revel in being awkward. But I’d bet that they are figuring things out (really) and are desperate to know that someone sees them.

Most people get a lift when they feel noticed for doing things well.

Keep an eye on your colleagues. Catch them doing something right. Thank them for it.

Task, team, individuals

John Adair. A proper academic thinker and leader on leadership. He proposed a model usually called “action centred leadership” that starts with three things that leaders have to pay attention to.


Following on from my post about People vs Process it is all too easy to focus energy and attention on “achieving the task” and neglect “building the team” and “growing the individuals”.

“Get it done, get it done, you’re really close to the deadline, are you going to make it, we have to meet the target, have you started that other thing yet…” Achieve the task. Achieve the task. Achieve the task.

Build the team….

“Let’s get together for ten minutes and talk about how things are going. I don’t want to discuss the timeline or workflow or deadlines or the project itself. I just want to talk about how we’re working. Are we communicating well enough? Is everyone clear what they’re doing and where we’re up to? Are we getting all the points of view on the table?”

Grow the individuals…

“How are you doing? You look a little stressed. What’s happening? Have you got what you need to get done what you’ve been tasked with? Do you just need a break? How would you like to lead the stakeholder meeting on Thursday? I think you’re ready… I can get someone else to handle that task you’re on now so you can prepare…”

As ever on this blog about leading from wherever you are, this all applies wherever you are in the team.

If you’re not in charge… challenge and encourage everyone (including your boss) to be working in all three circles. Suggest ways for the team to work better. Reach out to individuals and lift them up.

If you’re in charge… challenge and encourage everyone (including yourself) to be working in all three circles!

FREE eBook – 6 Keys to Leadership

I’ve written a FREE eBook on 6 key leadership characteristics.

“But there are so many lists of leadership characteristics…” I hear you say. “What’s different about yours?”

Well… In the eBook you do get my list of 6 key characteristics: Vision, Focus, Confidence, Humility, Consultation and Decisiveness.

Then I give you something else. I discuss how four of them sit in tension with each other and what you can do about it.

How can you be both confident and humble?

How do you stay decisive when the consultation brings out wide-ranging views on opposite sides of the fence?

And then I give you a little bit more. A simple step by step approach to reflecting on how you’re doing in these areas, figure out your strengths and weaknesses, AND take steps to improve.

It’s only a short read. I hope it will really help you.

Grab your copy here.

People vs Process

How do you see your organisation?

Is it a group of people trying to achieve a common aim?

Or a set of processes, policies and structures designed to facilitate smooth working and success?

Obviously it’s both. But where do you put your energy? Your thinking? Your leadership?

Better processes? Or more fulfilled people?

Again… I would hope it’s both. And often the intent is: “better processes will create space and time for the people and lead to more fulfilment”. Which can work. 

But be careful. If you’re always talking about the processes, if you always tackle difficulties and change and opportunities from the process side, the people will notice. Without thinking about it. And they’ll subconsciously draw the obvious conclusion.

That you care more about the processes than you do about them. 

Even if it’s none of your business… 

It might still be your business. 

What do I mean by “leading from the side”?

Leading from above, below and within are pretty obvious. But from the side?
Wherever you are in your organisation, there are probably some parts of it that you rarely interact with. Maybe marketing. Or building management. It depends on what you do every day. 

So what do you do if you spot something to do with one of them that worries you? Or something that would be a great opportunity if someone noticed?

It’s none of your business. It won’t really affect you. 

But is it important? 

If not, then don’t get involved. They have their own priorities and concerns and opportunities to deal with. 

But if it is… Do something! Figure out the right person to talk to, and say something. 


There are 2 key points. 

First. It helps if you have established good relationships across your organisation. Even in the parts you rarely interact with. This is a key factor in building influence. If you have a good pre-existing relationship with someone they are much more likely to be willing to listen and treat your comments as valuable. 

Second. The less the issue impacts on your part of the business, the more you have to dial up the humility. “I know this isn’t really any of my business… but do we need to be careful about [this issue]?”

Why is this important?

Your unique perspective, knowledge and experience lead to unique insights. Whatever your role. 

If you spot something you think is important, it might be that no-one else has seen it. 

With that in mind, which is worse… 

The risk that you say something and it’s already been thought of? 

The risk you say something and you’re wrong? 

Or the risk that you don’t say something and you miss the opportunity or the concern becomes true?

If you’re committed to the success of your organisation, if it’s important but it’s none of your business, it IS your business. 

Forget about the rulebook

There isn’t one. 

In this post on leadership and management I introduced a description of leadership and management. 

The key thing on the management side is the “policy and process framework” to comply with. The rulebook. 

The bigger the “leadership” aspect of your role, the more often you’ll be faced with situations for which there isn’t a roadmap. 

They’re too complicated. Or too new. Or too unexpected. 

They’re the opportunities that hadn’t been thought of before. The problems that no-one predicted. 

When these things happen, leaders who are used to working on the management side can often get stuck looking for the  policy or procedure to follow.

But in these situations you just have to figure out what to do. 

Use your best judgement. Make a decision. And get people moving. 

Promote yourself

Are you stepping into your first “leadership role”? Or a new one?

It can be daunting. New things to learn. People to manage. Larger responsibilities. More on your plate. 

The most important thing to do in your first day, week and month, is promote yourself. 

You’re capable. You’re ready. You’re the person who’s been given the responsibility and the opportunity to make a difference. 

Drop some of the things you used to do. You don’t have time any more. 

Do what you think is best. That’s why they gave you the job. They trust your judgement will be up to the task. 

You have to trust it too.