Michael

Michael

Is the main function of a leader to produce more leaders? What are your thoughts?

Leadership Quote 27

This week 50 years ago, Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave one of the most important speeches ever presented. Here is another quote that reminds us of the important of this great leader.

Leadership Quote 26a

Dates:

14-18 Oct 13 + 21-25 Oct 13 (10 days)

Monday February 4, 2013.  A regular occurrence in many organisations is the exit of a company’s best and brightest young talent in response to business owners waiting far too long to identify, nurture and develop future leaders said founder and principal of international leadership training organisation Kameleons – developing leaders, Mr. Michael Peiniger.

By the time most businesses consider leadership development training, the prospective future manager has left or (a potentially worse scenario) has stayed having developed poor communication skills, values and behaviours that have become ingrained and almost impossible to redress. A former senior officer in the Australian Air Force, Michael Peiniger says the military has understood for centuries the need to develop leadership early in a career. Peiniger says “Basic military training is far more than the movie stereotype of push-ups, yelling and polishing shoes.”

“It is the opportunity to introduce and develop values, traits, conduct and skills that will be utilised for an entire career.  Values such as integrity, teamwork and responsibility (similar to values of most businesses) are more than just words.  They are discussed, broken down, reinforced through behaviours and practiced constantly.” The same applies to leadership training.  For new management appointees to meet the leadership expectations placed upon them, their first leadership experience can’t coincide with the appointment.  It has to be early in their career.

Michael Peiniger continued, “Some of the best and most respected leaders in the world attest to learning to lead from experience – including the making of mistakes and learning from those events.  If young future leaders aren’t given the chance to discover these skills in their early years they will be doomed to make big mistakes (involving more money, people and responsibility) later in their careers.”

Michael Peiniger recommends businesses adopt 5 approaches to develop their leadership talent early:

1. Praise good behaviour and correct poor performance  

New and junior staff are highly receptive when they join an organisation and if their behaviour is ignored, the opportunity to mould good behaviour and practices is lost. In many companies, new staff members are paired with a ‘buddy’ to help them gain knowledge and adopt appropriate work related skills more quickly than learning on their own. By extending the program into a long term mentoring relationship that provides feedback and guidance, the ongoing benefits include greater camaraderie, confidence, realization of potential and increased productivity and job satisfaction.

2. Identify leadership potential early

Leadership should not be a skill that is ‘added on’ after someone has demonstrated say five years proficiency in a technical specific role.  It should be in core tasks as early as possible, so that expectations of responsibility become a normal part of doing business. In addition, today’s young people are not prepared to wait five years for an opportunity to lead.  They want to do it now. The notion that ‘you did your apprenticeship’ many years ago and then attempt to force this onto today’s Gen Y will only result in their early exit.  

Michael Peiniger says, “It’s easy to identify those members of staff that relish the extra responsibility from leadership development programs.  If you don’t recognize it early enough, another company will.”

3. Provide leadership opportunities

There is no point identifying your leadership talent and then not getting them to do anything.  This could be simple tasks like running a meeting, planning a project; or a larger undertaking such as running a small team. The important ingredient is guidance – and it is where business differs from the military dramatically. Leadership roles within the military that require management of staff and budgetary responsibility are provided extensively and often.  Candidates are assisted by the guidance and experience of senior personnel that provide a ‘well of expertise’ to draw upon when situations become difficult or complex.

4. Provide leadership skills training and build relationships

Again reflecting on his military background, Michael Peiniger says that even after identifying talent and providing opportunity, the military requires all leaders to continue their leadership training as they progress through the ranks. Leadership training provides not only access to learn new skills and experience best practice, it also provides an opportunity for leaders to network with their peers and build relationships. “The peer network is one of the most underrated in business today,” said Michael Peiniger. “In my military career, it was my peers that I often turned to for advice, help and suggestions (not my boss) as they were the most effective sounding board with insight into the issues being confronted.” Your Manager and staff can be a great help, but they also judge you at the same time. Peers are part of your team, not competition.

5. Train for war, not for peace

“Most businesses train for peace, whereas the military trains for war.  In addition, the majority of business leadership training is undertaken when times are good and there is no pressure on sales, revenue, workloads, personnel and resources,” observes Michael Peiniger. “Immediately, times become tough, the response of far too many business owners is to disarm (cease training and leadership development activities immediately) and retreat, leaving their troops on the front line with little support and guidance to deal with increased competitor focus and threats to market share.” Michael Peiniger doesn’t suggest business should only train when times are bad, but they should train for all situations as the real return to training and developing the skills of a company’s leaders is in the difficult times. By not maintaining training and leadership activities during the hard times, businesses forego an opportunity to prepare the company’s future leaders with the experience needed to address similar situations in the future.

“Business cycles of boom and bust are well-known and yet businesses continue to get caught off guard when the answer to a company’s long-term success, viability and resilience is within.”

“By identifying a company’s future leaders early and then training, nurturing, building and challenging their skills with development and mentoring programs – an internal environment is created that builds a store of leadership talent with attributes to address the economic and marketplace challenges of the future,” concluded Michael Peiniger.

 

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Monday April 29, 2013.

Reflecting on the Australian Cricket team last month when four players were suspended for not doing their homework, Founder and Principal of Kameleons – developing leaders, Michael Peiniger said the event continues to resonate as a demonstration of the need for leaders to stand firm and make tough decisions in the face of immense criticism and pressure.

While there were many former cricketing greats that took to the media to criticise the decision to suspend the players, Peiniger applauded the coach and captain Michael Clarke for their ‘line in the sand’.

It is acknowledged that sport helps young people to develop many significant traits such as the importance of teamwork, good communication, striving to achieve goals, leadership, respecting authority and the ability to accept winning and losing with equal grace and maturity. In later life, these fundamental attributes are applied in adult life and particularly in business.

“While many people are reluctant to accept the link between sport and business there are indeed lessons to be learnt. Especially in relation to leaders being called upon to make the tough decisions and this is one of the biggest challenges and defining attributes of leadership,” said Michael Peiniger.

“Whether in business or sport, leaders are judged by their ability to make the difficult decisions because they are needed to grow the business, attain its goals and objectives or simply survive.”

It is well recognized that critical decisions put leaders to the test.

In tumultuous times, true leaders make tough choices with courage and audacity. Others cannot cope with the difficulty and uncertainty so they remain indecisive, and in business, their competitors win their customers and market share.

If any group is going to try and achieve success and become a high performing team, then an appropriate behaviour standard not only has to be agreed and set, it also needs to be maintained.

Not enforcing a standard doesn’t make the leader a better friend, a better teammate or a better captain – it just makes both the leader and team weaker.

Michael Peiniger continued, “In fact, considering the situation that was faced by the Australian Cricket team last month and the lessons that are applicable in most work places – who wants to be lead or work with a team member that thinks that the rules don’t apply to them?”

Michael Peiniger believes there are four components to creating a standard for a team:

  1. Clearly identify the behaviour standard to set

  2. As the leader, ensure you are meeting the standard yourself

  3. Communicate the standard to all team members, ensuring they

    understand the ‘why’, and

  4. Enforce the standard

“When it comes to leadership standards, the effort is in the enforcing, not the setting,” added Michael Peiniger.

When a leader is required to enforce a standard, there are a number of things that they need to adhere to.

  1. The standard being enforced must be clearly articulated and agreed to by the team.

  2. The person breaking the standard knew exactly what was required.

  3. The person breaking the standard knew exactly what the consequences

    would be.

  4. What was done was for the good of the team, and in the long run, for the

    individual as well.

Business leaders and managers at all levels are faced with making difficult decisions on a regular basis. This is especially true in today's economic environment.

Michael Peiniger has studied the practice of leadership and the process leaders (both good and bad) go though in making the ‘tough call.’

Irrespective of whether leaders make their decisions based on emotion, impulse or extensive facts and data, the best leaders realise that tough decisions are made for the good of the team in the long term.

The best leaders are those that are willing to face temporary unpopularity to maintain and enforce a standard. The truth is, most people placed in leadership positions aren’t willing to face that prospect, letting team members break standards and rules in an attempt to stay popular.

Michael Peiniger concluded, “The making of tough decisions is the essence of leadership and leaders are entrusted with the responsibility by employers, customers, employees (the individuals that comprise the Australian Cricket team) to do ‘the right thing’!”

“The right thing might mean terminating an employee, restructuring an organisation, implementing a program, or simply telling someone ‘No’. The leader that does not make the right decision and act on it will lose all credibility and trust.” 

 

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I know, I didn't expect to see those words used in the same sentence either! But (Chris) Ashton Kutcher delivered both a surprising and inspiring leadership speech at the Teen Choice Awards that would be the envy of business leaders and leadership experts the world over. Why? Because it was simple, heartfelt, honest and effective. Not only that, it takes an extraordinary effort to cut through the noise of 10,000 screaming fans and deliver a speech for more than 3 minutes without getting a wind-up from producers.

Why do we think this speech was so special and projects Ashton as a role model? Have a look at the video and the review below.

 

 

Why we love this video:

1. Honesty. Did you know that Ashton's real first name is Chris? Opening up and explaining this to his fans made him seem more real and authentic. When it comes to leadership, you have to be believable, both in your words and your body language. We are conditioned from an early age to pick up the disconnects between the words and body language / facial cues. It is why politicians often have such bad reputations; the disconnect between what they say and what they do, both before and after an election. Ashton's words and body language matched in front of a live audience, making him seem honest and reliable as someone to listen / look up to.

2. Recognising his team. Early in his speech, Ashton makes it clear that his success is based on the actions of his fans (his team). Good leaders take a little bit more of the criticism, and give their team a little bit more of the credit.

3. Values. The three values of opportunity, being sexy (get past the heading, I will explain shortly) and living life both resonated with his audience and again felt authentic. Each of the values had a story attached to it, that was both insightful and personal. 

4. Opportunity. Ashton states that 'opportunity looks a lot like hard work' explaining the difference between luck and success. In our view, luck is when opportunity and hard work meet. The harder you work, the luckier you get. Ashton holds a similar view, explaining the number of menial jobs he worked before getting his break in Hollywood.

5. Being Sexy. As far as Ashton is concerned, being sexy is about being smart, thoughtful and generous. If we could get more students to view sexiness in those terms (using those principles as a guide), I think we could consider ourselves as successful. In a culture that seems both celebrity / body-image / 'selfie' obsessed, this seems like a pretty positive message to send out to young adults. As Ashton stated 'Smart, Thoughtful, Generous. Everything else is crap that people try to sell you to make you feel less, so don't buy it'.

6. Living life. 'When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and to live your life in that world. Life can be broader than that when you remember one little thing. Everything around us was made up by someone who is no smarter than you (the audience)'. 

Smart, thoughtful, generous, work hard, challenge the status quo and being honest - sounds like a pretty good set of values to promote as a role-model. What are your thoughts? Could you use this video to start a discussion on values-based leadership in your School / Year Group?

 

 

sport injuryWhen it comes to training staff, many businesses approach the process similar to older, amateur sportsmen, when in fact they should emulate the sports training of their youth. Let me explain.

My physiotherapist told me several weeks ago 'This is an old man's injury' after tearing my calf muscle after a game of basketball. After questioning my training (and having to get over the fact that I am now old), we discovered that my once a week game, accompanied with no training and hardly any warm-up, was downright dangerous to my health. This is a situation i would never have contemplated as a teenager, with judo and tennis coaches ensuring I practised with their 'no train, no game' credo in mind. I would practise 4 or 5 times a week for a competitive game, irrespective of the competition. My children attend swimming training 5 times a week, with their coach refining their technique and preparing them specifically for different strokes and lengths of competition. They focus on PB's (personal bests) and break up their races into achievable tasks and goals (stroke rates and breathing). Is this like your business training?

Sadly, when it comes to business training, most leaders and managers (like myself) have not become smarter with age.

In an economy with slow growth, rising unemployment and a relatively poor business outlook, training does not seem to be high on the agenda. It is a very short-sighted view.

Training (either formal or informal) and coaching provides employees with the opportunity to try new concepts and ideas, rehearse procedures and behaviours, and perfect skills in preparation for business. Targetted training ensures employees maintain their skills in areas of expertise not often used, rounding their skills and abilities and limiting mistakes due to underuse.

With Australian culture so obsessed with sporting success, we seem to have learnt very little from it to help with business success.

In sport, when you faced with a more difficult league and increased competition, do you increase or reduce the number of training sessions the players / team go through?

My men's basketball team plays weekly and trains annually. Our win / loss ratio is average and the number of injuries the team sustains is high. There is not one member of the team that likes losing, and we all know what we need to do, but it doesn't get done. Our egos and our memories are playing tricks on us - we remember how it used to be. The evidence is clear (poor win / loss ratio and high injuries) and the answers are obvious. If we were either a junior team or an elite professional team the answer would be obvious - make changes, practise more, warm up before play and learn specific set plays that the competition is unprepared for and is suited to our skills.

In business, we face tough competition, pressure on prices and ask our staff to do more with less 'players'. In this environment, what approach do you take to business training - the old, amateur or the elite professional?

The answer you provide may have a much longer effect on your business than you may think. My amateur basketball career was put on hold for 5 weeks while I recovered (I don't think my team missed my skills). Will your business have the same opportunity?

Perhaps it is time for your business to hit the training track if you want to stay in the game and beat the competition.

I would love to be able to take the credit for finding this video and the discussion that followed, but I can't. A Grade 9 group followed one of our MetaMorph masterclass workshops with further leadership discussion in the classroom.

The video they used to start the discussion was 'Duct Tape Surfing' below (thank you Sheriden for sharing what your students had done). One of the simple yet powerful questions they asked was 'Who is the leader in this situation?' and from the discussions flowed others, such 'What are the everyday things that we can do to demonstrate leadership?'

We loved this so much that we had to share it with you. Once students understand beyond the words of leadership - and they begin to understand the behaviours and actions they can do to demonstrate leadership - they can truly do some amazing things, both for themselves, their School and the students around them.

 

If this is a theme you would like to extend with your students, consider also the ted.com video 'Lollipop Leadership moments' - we have found that it draws a similar discussion on grass roots leadership.

 

if you would like further information, examples, or activities to develop the leadership and teamwork abilities of your students, give us a call on (03) 9282 6683 or 0409 627 270. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 01:06

Mortlake College

We travelled out to Mortlake College at the end of 2012 to work with a fantastic group of Grade 6,7 and 8 students. I have to admit to being a little surprised - these kids put us through our paces! The teamwork displayed by these students was really something to see - a testiment to the values and teaching that has been taking place at the School. 

 

Meta-Mortlake College 1Meta-Mortlake College 2 

Kerry Bowden, Mortlake College Welfare Officer, had the following to say about the MetaMorph course:

What was the most useful activity of the course? Why?

Marble run as it demonstrated some of the key teamwork and leadership skills. It also required persistence and resilience of all involved.

How successful was the facilitator’s delivery? Why?

The students responded really well to Michael. He outlined the requirements of the group but got the young people to contribute to it. He treated them respectfully which reciprocated.

What would you tell other teachers / Schools about the MetaMorph program?

The Metamorph program is a great opportunity for staff to see students in a different light. It facilitates peer connections beyond the program especially when the students reflected on the challenges. It has given then great insight into what makes effective leadership and team work. I would highly recommend this program to other schools both for student and staff sessions.

Meta-Mortlake College3

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 00:50

The Knox School

We had the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of Year 11 students and teachers at the end of 2012 and the start of 2013. What set this activity apart was not only the number of students, but the fact that the teachers got just as involved in the leadership activities as the students (and just a little competitive as well!)

 

Meta - The Knox School 2Meta - The Knox School 3Meta - The Knox School 4Meta - The Knox School 5

 

 The main themes for the day were communication, problem-solving, motivation, coping strategies when faced with challenges, perseverance and teamwork. A really good bunch of students to work with, and a great group of teachers that really set the example for their students.

Meta - The Knox School 6Meta - The Knox School 7

 

 

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