The Live Blog

Author

Howard

Howard O'Donnell
CEO

23/03/20

All things must pass - dealing with the current reality.


I've been busy coaching leaders over the last few days that are all trying to come to terms with the Covid-19 reality and trying to develop strategies to work with and lead their teams. This is really tough for everyone as we face an unprecedented moment when strategic headspace and expoloring possibilities has never been so crucial.

This morning I was listening to one of my favourite George Harrison songs and it got me thinking about a story I heard a while back.

 

Have you ever heard of the Stockdale Paradox?

I came across this story for the first time back in 2009 when I was doing my ICF coach training and it was introduced as a lesson in why confronting reality, while mainitaining a healthy sense of optimism, is vital to success. In today's VUCA world this is more relevant than ever. Admiral Stockdale was an American pilot in the Vietnam war. He was captured and made into a POW. He spent 8 gruesome years in a war camp in Vietnam (dubbed the 'Hanoi Hilton') while being tortured almost daily. Stockdale was held in solitary confinement and suffered horrific torture the including having lights in his small cell kept on 24 hours a day and being forced to sleep in shackles.

How did Stockdale make it?

After he was able to escape, he explained how he survived and why both optimists and pessimists were the first ones to die in the camp.  

 

The paradox goes like this:

You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

AND at the same time…

You must confront the brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

 

The first part of the paradox and it covers the optimistic side of life. It explains that in order to survive any challenging period  in life, you need to have absolute faith that you will manage to conquer it. This goes to serve not only the people in war camps but also those who face any difficulties. This part of 'keeping the faith' can be applied to any part of your life. whether it’s about losing a job, a traumatic experience, going broke or at the end of a relationship you need to have strong faith.

“It too shall pass” or, as George Harrison said in one of my favourite songs in the world "All things must pass".

 

If you don't know this song yet - look it up, turn it up and take a break.

Author

Howard

Howard O'Donnell
CEO

25/10/18

Our latest video

Author

Howard

Howard O'Donnell
CEO

13/02/18

Credible Communication and Leadership

It turns out that when we evaluate someone's personality, we focus on two main criterea : "strength" and "warmth". Pepole make lasting impressions of others in just a few seconds and recent Harvard Business School research shows that this is based these two factors. It may come of a suprise to you that over 80% of first impressions relate to warmth and strength.

This means that when we meet someone we are not simply making a single first impression but in fact we are really forming two. Evidence shows that in those vital few seconds we are judging how warm and trustworthy the person is, and that's trying to answer the question: "What are this person's intentions toward me?" We are also asking ourselves: "How strong and competent is this person?"

 

People that successfully project strength and warmth impress us as knowing what they are doing and having our best interests at heart. Strength and warmth are the principal criterea on which we base all of our social judgments and the fundemental response to that incredibly relevant leadership question : "Why should I led be you?" - They in fact come across as willing (warm) and capable (strong) to guide us toward the future. We look to them for leadership  and feel comfortable knowing they are in charge.

 

The ability to master these two factors, that are by nature in direct tension with each other, is rare - so rare in fact that we can probably count the number of people we have encountered that manage it well on one hand. The ancient Greeks called it "the devine gift" from which we get the word charisma. Today we use different words to describe it depending on context. At work we might say "leadership potential", maybe "cool" in a social environment or simply as "IT" in the showbiz and entertainment world, as in "He has got IT".

Leadrship today should begin with warmth before strength. Research by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman drives this point home: In a study of 51,836 leaders, only 27 of them were rated in the bottom quartile in terms of likeability and in the top quartile in terms of overall leadership effectiveness—in other words, the chances that a manager who is strongly disliked will be considered a good leader are only about one in 2,000 !

 

Your answer to the question Niccolò Machiavelli's pondered over 500 years ago is key to your success - "Is it better to be feared or loved?" 

“It may be answered that one should wish to be both,” he acknowledged, “but because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved.”

We'd love to support you to become more engaging and boost your potential  Let's connect

Author

Howard

Howard O'Donnell
CEO

13/06/17

THE NAPKIN TEST.

 

Have you ever heard of this before? 

At Live Learning, many of our coaching clients are grappling with self-motivation and the answer to the holy grail of happiness question. "What will get me out of bed in the morning?" Without a good reason to do this, you tend to not do so well.

 

I was at a café the other day meeting a new client and as we only had a minute before his next appointment, I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to try out Richard Leider's Napkin test. If you don't know it already, here you go.

Did you know that a sense of purpose has a magic formula?  G + P + V = C

 

  1. G is for gifts: The things you are naturally good at. Think of these as your enjoyed talents. 
  2. P is for passions: What you really care and are curious about. When you combine your gifts and the passions that you really care about. When this happens, you will bring your 'whole self' to work.
  3. V is for values: Where you do what you do? Are you in a culture that values you? Do you want to go there and make a difference?
  4. C is for calling: This is more than a job that pays the bills or a career with a ladder to climb. It's about using your gifts, passions and values which will bring you greater happiness, health and productivity.

 

So why not reach out and grab a napkin yourself and have a go at answering your magic formula

G + P + V = C.

 

Enjoy !

 

Author

Howard

Howard O'Donnell
CEO

01/06/16

Leadership lessons from a bus conductor

Catching the contagious bus

I used to live in South London and in the mornings, if I was lucky, I caught  the iconic N° 159 Routemaster London bus into the city. I remember one very special conductor that was capable of creating something highly contagious amongst the dreary morning commuters.

If you were really lucky, at around 8 am, you might just step onto this cheerful bus and marvel at the emotional impact that this man would single handedly bring to a routine journey to work. 

 The shift would begin at the bus stop. People don’t generally talk to each other and engage much in the mornings as they finish breakfast, sip on take-away coffees, connect Ipods or scour the paper for interesting news. As the iconic bus came into view people would look up from their distraction and try to see if it was THE right bus. Was today going to be one of those feel good days? The positive behavioural change could even be observed at the bus stop as visual confirmation of the 'super' conductor was made and that he would be taking us to work with a smile!

 I loved to observe how faces became brighter with the conductor’s charm, upbeat conversation and kindness. You could literally see people starting to smile, put down their papers and start to converse with strangers as the journey made its way towards the capital. With every stop new people would get on with a smile as they were greeted by his infectious and playful demenour. Newcomers to this legendary N° 159  experience discovered his positivity and unique way of engaging the sleepy city folk and I'm sure, on occasions,  some were convinced that there was a hidden camera somewhere for one of those prank TV shows.

As the disembarking commuters stepped off the bus with a bounce in their step, I used to wonder how long the impact of such a happy feeling would last into their working day. Would it go on like a ‘ripple effect’ throughout the morning as people would ‘catch’ the cheerful vibe and pass it on again? Would it last beyond the walk to the office, down into the tube station or into their place of work on the 5th floor?

Positive emotions and attitudes like feeling happy, hopeful, friendly and alive are highly contagious and that bus conductor was living proof of such contagion is both possible and powerful. Of course, the opposite is unfortunately true with negativity and disengagement representing an increasing problem in working cultures and beyond.

What culture do you want to create on your 'bus'?

How do you want people to feel when they step off their journey with you?

What kind of a 'conductor' do you want to known as?

 Remember - people leave their jobs more often because of their boss than the job itself. Is it time for you to become a more positive and contagious leader?

I

Learn about coaching

Author

Ursula

Ursula G. Leitzmann
Coach & Consultant

19/05/16

Finding the right balance: rust-out can be as painful as burn-out

 

A while ago, one of my coaching clients had been in the same job for many years and frankly, she found it dead boring. To make things worse, her performance had dropped in the recent past and things were not going well. It turned out that the work that was assigned to her was not enough and not challenging enough. However, because she did not want others to think that she was “under worked”, she stretched the work out artificially to look busy to her peers and her boss. After a while she started showing signs of fatigue and lack of concentration, which led to making mistakes and an overall drop in performance. This, in turn, exacerbated the situation.

Over the course of several coaching sessions, she gained the insight that she had long outgrown her job and was ready for the next developmental step. She talked to her manager who added new responsibilities to her current job. There she could further grow and develop and feel more useful and valued.

The symptoms my client had experienced were those of rust-out. Many suffer from burnout. Little is heard or known about a condition that is on the opposite site of the spectrum: rust out, when people are bored and underwhelmed in their jobs. Interestingly, the body responds similar to both burnout and rust-out as the latter one can be equally stressful. The person may feel restless, unhappy, stuck, and these sentiments often accompanied by fatigue and a lack of concentration.

When you realize that your job is more draining than energy-giving over a longer period of time, listen to the alarm system of your body. Temporarily, we can deal with being over- or underwhelmed. However, in the long run it is important to have a job that generates a level of positive energy that is sustaining you.

 

Author

Howard

Howard O'Donnell
CEO

10/05/16

Why decisions are not enough - Frogs and Lily Pads

I was leading a training program the other day when I found myself repeatedly impersonating a jumping frog! Am I losing my marbles you might say? I probably am. Anyway, we were discussing the topic of character and how it is the defining factor for successful leadership and in particular the subject of courage and willingness. 

The reason I was jumping like a frog was because I was engrossed in telling one of my favorite stories called 'The three frogs on a lily pad. If you haven't already heard it, hear you go.

Three frogs are on a lilly pad and one decides to jump. so, how many frogs are left on the lily pad? 

What do you think? One, two, all of them or perhanps none?

 

The answer is of course three. You guessed it .... because deciding to jump is not the same as jumping! 

How many times do you promise to do things that you never deliver on, say to friends you'll start doing something new but continue as normal letting positive intentionsfall by the wayside. We have all been witness to people proudly telling us their big decisions, only to see them in the same place the following year - sitting on that lilly pad saying - did I tell you about my big decision?

Being more credible and trustworthy starts with yourself and ensuring you act on those important decisions is essential in debeloping your capacity to lead, be more credible and live a more meaningful life.

So, make sure you are not a frog that stays on that lily pad forever and take that jump soon!

If you've been on that lily pad for a while and wondering where your next jump is, what difference it would make or how you might do it, then Individual or team coaching might be just the thing up need.

 

 

Author

Howard

Howard O'Donnell
CEO

24/03/16

Are your teams all rowing in the same direction?


I recently had the opportunity to try out rowing with a team of 5 managers and the experience got me thinking ... We were all novices and at first struggled with simple things like finding the right positions, teamwork and most importantly -how best to communicate in order to find the right team rhythm. After forty five enjoyable minutes we had made a lot of progress by revisiting some important team lessons that made real sense both on the boat and back at work. 

Teams are the means by which most things get done in organizations and being able to get people to work together more effectively can be the difference between winning and losing in today’s competitive business environment. Today, there is mounting research to show that how well your senior teams work when they are together reveals the true potential of the organization. When we work with senior teams it is immediately evident if you are working with a team (as Professor Lynda Gratton would say)  in a 'Hot Spot' or in the 'big chill'. 

Senior teams that have brave conversations, demonstrate trust, display integrity and work across silos will create a positive culture for the teams below and the organization as a whole. Be careful - this can be highly contagous ! My experience on the boat that day had me reaching for one of my favourite books on team dynamics to revisit a quote that I fully belive in.

"If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time." Patrick Lencioni

Is your organisation all rowing in the same direction?

At live Learning our focus is to develop human potential and improve working cultures through powerful learning solutions that generate ‘lightbulb' moments for our clients. Learn more about how to leveraging teamwork at:


Team Development Page