Monthly Archives: June 2013

//June

My Brother!

My kid brother is not the same as me. For a start he’s seven years younger (that’s what makes him my kid brother).  I don’t care what age I get too, as long as we are both alive, he’ll always be my kid brother and I will remind myself (and him) of the differences between us. On the other hand in some ways we are very much alike…

I have always tried to live my life to the full.  Not to be reckless but to dare to take on challenges. I like to stretch myself intellectually and emotionally. I like to explore and to discover the undiscovered; to contemplate it and to try and find ways of weaving what I have witnessed into my daily life.

This week my brother forwarded me a text on Facebook that must have already made millions smile. I think you either get it or you don’t.  It said:

“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “Holy shit…what a ride!”

Now the language might offend some people, and for that I apologize but it somehow sums up how he and I feel (probably he a little more than me, to be honest)!  

I have seen many loved ones leave this world, some of them way too young.   This little message reminds me that life is a gift and we should live it to the full, and that is entirely what I intend to do. Not in a reckless or selfish way but in a sharing way; sharing the wisdom of the road, ideas, troubles and laughter.

Now I would like to ask you to do something for me - not to stop here but to continue reading…

My brother’s business is not the same as mine. For a start it’s seven years younger.   On the other hand it’s not that much different either…

I have always tried to run my business to the full.  Not to be reckless with it but to dare to take on challenges. I like to stretch myself and my colleagues intellectually and emotionally, I like to explore and to discover the undiscovered with them, to contemplate it and to try to find ways of weaving what we witnessed into our businesses.

“A business’ plan is not about arriving at a given point safely in a well preserved structure but rather to achieve the mission by deploying  all one’s resources,  energy and focus , shouting “Wow…what a ride!”

Being given the opportunity to run a business is a gift and being given the opportunity to help and advise others on how to do the same is the biggest gift of all. And those who also get the chance should do so to the full, not in a reckless or selfish way but in a sharing way; sharing the wisdom of the road, its ideas, troubles and laughter – lots of laughter, laughter and fun!.

Have a good week

Harley

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How can I be of help?

At times it can be incredibly tedious being a senior manager, or even a director of a large company. After a lifetime of using your intellect, charm and wits to get you through the day, you suddenly find that for large chunks of the week, it is simply no longer required.

One of the biggest drags can be the constant flow of really tedious meetings. They were bad enough when you  attended them from an operational point of view but to be there  just to listen to somebody you hardly know bang on about a topic that does not really interest you but somehow needs your approval or support, well that is one hundred times worse!  What’s more – more often than not the presenters decide to keep strictly to the facts so they can pump in as much detail as possible.  There’s not a glimmer of fun or entertainment, just eight times one hourly intervals of information download.

Many young people believe that they live in a macho world where only wimps and underperformers need help. But nothing is further than the truth.

After sitting through presentation after presentation on just how swell all the companies projects are going and how fantastic the teams are doing, it is nice for managers, once in a while to hear a project manager say – “to be honest ladies and gentlemen we’re in it a bit of a mess and we could really do with some help and advice.” At the sound of the words “help and advice” immediately most  senior managers come alive – ‘Finally my day has some meaning, perhaps today  I will go home with the feeling that I was needed and that without my advice or support the company, or a small part of it, would have been worse off?’

Senior managers, by definition, have more experience than their younger counterparts, they also have influence and access to budgets, resources and people; and yet too many think that they somehow don’t want to utilize the power they have. How wrong can they be?  Create a scenario where their advice or power could be vitally useful, make it real and dare I say interesting; even entertaining and you’ll find the invisible keys to what you are looking for right in front of you, larger than life.

On the other hand if you keep on pretending that everything is just hunky dory, then you might be in for a shock. People who act like they can do everything on their own, eventually fall into a hole and when they do it can be very deep indeed.  Because the people they need will be far away looking at their smart phones asking themselves, ‘why is this guy bothering me now, he’s never needed my help before?’ Screw him, I am on holiday – he’s a tough chap, he’ll sort it out for himself!

Have a good week,

Harley

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You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink

One of the most frustrating elements of leadership is that no matter how good you are or how hard you try, you will never convince everyone to follow you.  Some will remain neutral; others will become rivals and leave, while others will become enemies and remain.

A lot of my readers felt sorry for poor nurse Johnson last week, she had worked twenty years at the hospital only to be bumped off the nice post of Ward Sister by a much younger rival from another hospital. Let’s look at the same story from the leader’s point of view, as suggested by Markus?

The Director of Nursing wasn’t new in the hospital she had been struggling with under equipped wards with a high level of absenteeism for over five years. The promise of more resources she was given when she originally took the job on had never come. Her previous post of Ward sister was in a much more modern city hospital where the wealthier patients were used to getting what they wanted and complained bitterly when they didn’t. But here in the heart of a small county town in the middle of nowhere, there was an air of always being the poor cousin of the healthcare family.

It was difficult for her to attract new recruits, the hospitals brown and cream interior with its peeling paint and old floor tiles were something of the past, a bygone era that should have ended long ago. It seemed that no matter how inspirational she was towards her team, new recruits couldn’t see it in the interview and, even worse, they didn’t really want the additional cost of travelling a great distance each day to work. So when she found candidates with experience and energy, who shared her vision of ‘excellence via advancement and learning’, she took them, even if she knew they might cause some upset in the team to begin with.

‘The way I see it is,’ the director of nursing said. ‘There’s no football team in the country that makes a player the captain just becausethey have been playing in the team the longest’. Football captains and ward sisters need special talents way beyond their normal skills.

They need leadership; they need to inspire their team to go the extra mile of effort in times of difficulty. They need to be equipped with all the latest tricks and tips to help their team perform on a consistently high level. In short, they need to be role models. Nurse Johnson is a very good nurse, in her own way. But she always does the minimum. She never does overtime, no matter how busy it is. She never attends vocational training unless she has to and even when she does, she always goes back to her old ways whenever she gets the chance. After all the years of working for us, none of the team consult her for advice because when they do she says ‘It’s no good asking me dearie, you are the one with all the fancy diplomas’ and gets back on with her work!  I was warned about nurse Johnson when I took the post but I believed I could win her around and turn her into a leader and an inspirer of others. I tried and tried but nurse Johnson only wanted to do what she had to do and nothing more. The saddest thing for her is that she even wanted the title of ward sister. If you ask me, I don’t believe she did deep down, I think that her not getting the job was just another topic for her to complain about.’

Have a good week,

Harley

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I’ll tell you the real reason you didn’t get the job

Nurse Johnson had faithfully worked for twenty years at the same hospital. She always came in on time and never left early. She almost never had time off for illness or any other unplanned activity, not even for when her Mother died. So you can imagine how angry and upset she was when she found out that an external, much more junior, nurse had been given the job of ward sister instead of her?

One day the nurse Johnson could take it no longer and burst into the Director of Nursing’s office and there, right in front of the new ward sister, she said “I am sorry for interrupting but I cannot keep it to myself any longer. It’s disgraceful! I have worked very hard for this hospital, never shirking from my duty and this young lady just waltzes in, flashes a fancy diploma and gets the job I have worked so hard for, it’s simply not fair! What has she got that I haven’t?”

The director was so angry by the nurses’ interruption that she temporarily lost her sense of diplomacy. “Ward Sister Judith has nine years of excellent experience and I chose her because I believe that she will make an outstanding contribution to the hospital!”

“Nine years’ experience” Said nurse Johnson. “I have over twenty years’ experience!”

“No you don’t!” snapped the Director of Nursing, not bothering to hide her frustration. “You have only one year of experience followed by nineteen years of service! Nurse Johnson, let me be frank with you.

The way I see it is, you’ve spent the last nineteen years doing your first year over and over again; resisting anything new and refusing to adapt to the hospital’s needs of today.  One year of learning from an elderly nurse and nothing ever since is not what I call experience, now please get back to your duties and let me continue with my meeting!”

Sometimes our lessons come too late as in the case for nurse Johnson, and sometimes they never come at all.

Have a good week,

Harley

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