Your guide to New Year’s Resolutions success!

Love them or loathe them – what you need to know about New Year Resolutions

It’s a great party ice-breaker – “What’s your New Year Resolution?” – but how many of your good intentions actually turn into reality?

We’re celebrating 15 years of leadership development and coaching at the Forton Group and this issue comes up every year, without fail.

Because people do want to succeed.  They do want to be happier, healthier, more fulfilled at work, and in relationships that work.

To turn that dream into reality – here’s what you need to know:

  1. Resolve is a finite resource, so tap into your values too.
    Keep your resolve for those make or break moments, like: “no thanks I won’t have another”, or “yes, I will get up now and go for a run”.
    Don’t expect your resolve to have any power at all when you are hungry, thirsty, tired or stressed.  In those moments, simply be kind to yourself.
    There’s something more powerful and enduring than resolve, and it’s your values.  Knowing what’s important about your resolution – why you are doing it – will stand you in good stead as you step towards your goals.
  2. Timing is everything.
    Find out what time of day you’re at your best, and do your highest-value work, or resolution-requiring effort, then.  Don’t go food shopping when you’re tired or hungry (notice the theme here?).
    Exercise at the time of day that gives you energy.  Meditate, pray or do yoga when you feel the most benefit.
  3. Making your life easier is not a crime.
    Where you can automate your life, or create systems that support your goals, do it.
    Whether that’s setting up an automatic transfer into your savings account for your holiday fund, or having a stock of cholesterol-lowering drinks in the fridge; or identifying the best cigarette substitute for your health.
    Invest your time in setting up these systems, so that you don’t have to think twice about taking the actions you need.  If it’s easy to do, you’ll be using less of your valuable resolve.
  4. It’s about what you don’t have around you, as much as what you do have.
    If there’s no chocolate in the house, you won’t eat it.  Which of course, does beg the question about what to do with those well-meaning gifts from friends and family.
    My personal plan is to gift these boxes to the local food bank.  Remove temptation and bring pleasure to others, at the same time.
  5. It’s about who you have around you.
    Many blogs on New Year Resolutions will tell you to socialise your goals.  Which is why we chat about them at parties, of course.
    My extra advice is ‘pick your buddies carefully’.  If you’re trying to go smoke-free, then your smoking or vaping friends aren’t necessarily your best supporters.
    Of course they want the best for you; yet you need to have the best people – for you – to give you the smoke-free support you need.
  6. It’s about breaking your goals down into easy steps.
    Unless you were given a magic wand for Christmas (and I’d check the small print in the guarantee if I were you), there’s no instant solutions.
    If your goals were that easy, you’d have achieved them long ago.
    Break each goal down into easy steps.  Use coloured pens, or sticky notes; anything to make this a fun activity.
  7. Write it down.
    Now you’ve had a think about your goals, write the steps down and answer these questions:

    1. What’s the first thing you need to do?
    2. What’s the easiest thing you do next?
    3. What’s the most challenging thing about your goal?

For this last point, spend time finding ways to overcome the challenges.

  1. Rewrite your goals as positives.
    Many people say “I’m not going to….(have another cigarette, eat that chocolate)”.
    Unfortunately, by repeating this you’re imprinting the idea even further into your mind.
    So state your goal as a positive: “I’m going smoke-free this week.”
  2. Know your triggers.
    So many of our clients are triggered by stressful situations to fall back on their undesirable behaviours.
    Whether it’s salty snacks with a drink before dinner; reaching for a cigarette after a stressful meeting; or falling onto the sofa after the children have gone to bed.
    Knowing what triggers you is an important step to cutting it out.
  3. Make it a habit.
    Going smoke free this week is an example of a great step, positively stated. And this week, and this week.
    Yes, there may be side-effects, which is why it’s important to know your triggers
    And yes, this is where your resolve is needed – or perhaps a lower-risk substitute to support you through your trigger points.

Do what it takes to support your new habit.

  1. Falling off the wagon.
    It happens to us all. I have met people with an iron will and determination to achieve their goals.  Yet most of us are all-too-human.
    A single step backwards isn’t failure; it’s just a slip.
    When we pick ourselves up, forgive ourselves and remind ourselves of what’s important about the goals, will help us to move forward in the direction we really want to go.
  2. This is about you.
    This is your life; each moment is precious and no one can live it for you.
    I know how trite this can sound, but when we combine ownership and control of our own choices, with the support and encouragement of those who care for us, wonderful things can happen.
    Those dreams can, and do, become a reality.

And if you need extra support in achieving your goals, a coach can really help make that extra difference.  Whether it’s a work ambition, or a personal goal, you can achieve your New Year Resolution.

Here at Forton we have coaches around the world, on tap in multiple languages to help you achieve your goals.

From all our colleagues, we wish you a happy holiday season and here’s to making 2017 your best year ever.

Where do the best ideas come from?

We are fortunate to live in a lovely village in the heart of England, close to the centre of the UK motor industry. Not so much a mass-manufacturing area these days, instead there are specialist ‘advanced engineering’ firms.  They support projects like the Formula 1 teams in nearby Silverstone.  Our neighbours in the village include several engineers, some retired.

There’s an admirable perfectionism about these people, though it makes for a very competitive environment sometimes. They also demonstrate very well the notion of transferable skills. Continue reading

The best leaders have a hinterland

“Hinterland?”  You’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about. Denis Healey, a retired politician from the UK, and his wife Edna, first used the word about Margaret Thatcher. Their view was that she lacked a real connection with people because she had no interests outside of politics.

Denis and Edna firmly believed that people had to have a breadth and depth of knowledge on other matters, be that sport, religion, art, culture or learning – Denis was a keen photographer. Continue reading

Leadership and listening beyond the words

Last week, we launched our flagship leadership coach training product, Ignite, in Italy. I had the great pleasure of spending time with our partners in Rome.  They ran the course for a dozen leaders and coaches keen to learn our model.  My job was to listen, observe and support – and my biggest challenge was the listening.

I think it would be fair to say that learning new languages has never been one of my strengths – although I’m happy to be convinced this is merely a belief, and look forward to some offers of great coaching on this topic! Over the years, about the furthest I have got is to learn how to order a beer and ask for the bill. I’m proud to say I can now do this in eight different languages.

However, this limited vocabulary was going to be of little use to me as I observed my colleagues run the program. I had also promised to say a few words to kick the thing off, and thought it might be a bit early in the day for a beer, so I added another phrase to my vocabulary – “Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano” which ( I hope) means “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian”.

They were very tolerant of me and, after I’d finished, I sat quietly at the back of the room and watched the experts get on with running the course. As I was listening, I saw what a great practical example this was of what we always knew about learning – that it is about more than just the words.

It is often said that only 7% of the success of our communications is down to the words we use. Albert Mehrabian published research in 1981 where the 7-38-55 rule first appeared – 7% of the message is conveyed by words, 38% by tone of voice, and 55% by body language. In fact, his research was much narrower, about how we convey and interpret feelings – the rule determines how much we like someone when they’re talking about their feelings. It’s been incorrectly applied more widely over the years.

However, other studies have come up with a range of different ratios showing the importance of words versus the non-verbal elements and there clearly is a contribution to the success of our communication from both. When we deliver our leadership coach training programme, we are always flexing our style between trainer, facilitator and coach. My inability to understand Italian became less important as I could clearly see my colleagues using these different styles.

It was a great reminder about some core lessons about listening. It’s a vital skill for coaches to have and, of course, for leaders too. There are many reasons why this is so. For example, how often do we hear about major disasters that have ruined the reputation of companies where somebody in the organisation could see it was going to happen but nobody listened to them.

Also, when you think back to the great bosses, that you have had, my guess is that one quality they all share was that you felt listened to, and that builds loyalty and engagement.

The good news is that it’s possible to build this muscle – and the bad news is it needs constant practice. If you’d like to look at slightly different approach to improving your listening, then I’d recommend  “The Listening Book” by W.A. Mathieu.

I’d be really interested to hear your tips on building the skill of listening; how it impacts on your leadership, and any books you’d recommend. Buon ascolto!”

Leadership and Only Connect

I had fun earlier this year taking part in a TV quiz show on BBC4, called Only Connect, hosted by Victoria Coren. I formed a team with two old friends of mine and, because it had been my idea, they wanted me to be captain. I’m still not sure if this was a leadership privilege or a curse. The show was broadcast a couple weeks ago and so we are finally allowed to talk about the result. I’ll save you the trouble of watching it and tell you that although we lost, some kind people said that we emerged with some credit.

Continue reading

Influential leadership: what you need to know

Captain’s Blog

Stardate 240709

What’s the one thing about leadership you need to know?  What is it your boss needs to know you know?

It’s got to be said: everything a leader says or does creates an impact. Body language, the way he or she walks into the room; what they say and the way the say it.  The leader has the single biggest impact on driving performance: up or down.

Team members are looking for direction from our leaders, explicitly or otherwise; and our leaders hand down that direction in the subtlest of ways.  The team will pick up on a vocal nuance, a raised eyebrow, or the way papers are shuffled at the beginning of a meeting.  The interpretation they make of these actions will impact upon what happens outside that room as they apply the direction they’ve ‘heard’.

I’m hearing this feedback from the leaders I coach and members of their teams, as well as from directing my own teams.  The good news is that their experience is backed up by organisational research evidence.  To remind myself of these sources, I turned to the work of Daniel Goleman, the ’emotional intelligence’ expert, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, who together wrote a book published in the US under the title ‘Primal Leadership*’ and in the UK as ‘The New Leaders’.

Their focus is on the ‘resonant leader’ and they used a “global database of 3,871 executives in which several factors that influenced the working environment were assessed”.  Two key findings were that “leadership styles affected financial results, such as return on sales, revenue growth, efficiency, and profitability”; and “leaders who used styles with a positive emotional impact saw decidedly better returns than those that did not”. 

What this tells us, regardless of whether you work for the private, public or not-for-profit sector, is that your bottom line – however measured – is impacted on by your leaders.

Cutting to the chase, what’s the one thing we can do as leaders to improve our bottom line (however measured)?  Find out what motivates the people who work for us – one by one – and play to their strengths.  Leadership isn’t all about us; it’s about a successful team and we unlock that success when we know what their strengths are and what really motivates people.

Watching the Australia/England cricket highlights this week I heard a great line which I’m paraphrasing here: ‘play to your team’s strengths, not to the opposition’s weaknesses’.  We can only do this when we truly get to know the people who work with and for us.

So if you’re having a tough week at work and the signals you’re getting from your boss are driving down your motivation and performance, print this out and leave it in a prominent place.  Your boss needs to know how to unlock your success and he/she needs to know that you know it too.

 

*Quoted from: “Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence”, Goleman D., Boyatzis R., McKee A., Harvard Business School Press, 2002, pp53/54.  The reference to the original database is set out on p.265.