Leadership Tips for Discovery in Action Alumni + network
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March 2017

Welcome to our March edition of our Discovery in Action - Monthly leadership tips,  your 'once a month'  'bite-sized' chunks of practical leadership wisdom!

In this edition of our newsletter we share :
We post the blogs in this monthly leadership tips publication on Linked In. Please feel free to forward this email to people in your network who you think may find it helpful...

We also use the content we share each month, in the work we do in our consulting practice. Feel free to get in touch to find out more about anything in this newsletter or other blogs on our website.  Enjoy!

Melanie and Paul Eyres

How the ‘Power Pose’ can help you be more confident!

Want to feel more confident? Feeling a bit stressed? Well the power pose might be the answer!

Wonder Woman and Beyoncé are some people who have mastered this pose! But this special pose is not just for a select few! There is actually a strong movement, grounded in solid research from Harvard University and the Universities of Oregon and Texas, that supports the many benefits of such a pose, particularly on our confidence and stress levels.

One of the leaders in this space is social psychologist Amy Cuddy. In one of the most popular TED-talks (see link below), she shows how “power posing” – standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident – can affect certain hormone levels in the brain; specifically testosterone and cortisol.

Higher levels of testosterone (in both men and women) has been shown to lead to increased feelings of confidence. And lower levels of cortisol have been shown to lead to decreased levels of anxiety and an improved ability to deal with stress.

What do we mean by a power pose?

High power poses are more open and relaxed, and include:

  • standing with legs apart
  • arms raised above your head in a V shape
  • the ‘wonder woman’ pose – standing with your hands on your hips, or
  • your arms crossed behind your head – whilst sitting or standing

Lower power poses are more closed, and typically look like this:

  • sitting with our arms resting in our lap or crossed over our chest
  • one arm across the body in a ‘self hug’
  • hunching or crouching

How do these poses influence our hormone levels?

Research has shown that the act of changing your body position does two things; one it ‘signals’ more power, but secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it also triggers changes in the body that make you feel like you have more power or confidence.  In Amy’s study, people who held a 2 minute ‘high power’ pose increased testosterone levels by 20 percent and decreased cortisol levels by 25 percent!

So…how can I use this?

Next time you are faced with a potentially stressful situation – like a presentation, a meeting or even an interview, find some private space and try some power poses for 2 minutes. It will release some chemicals in the body that help you to feel and project more confidence, and it will also help to lower your feeling of stress.

But don’t just do it once. Do it often…

Amy shares an excellent premise :

Don’t just fake it till you make it – fake it until you BECOME it!

Do it over and over until it IS you!

What we can see is that the most powerful leaders amongst us don’t just think or act in a certain way, they carry themselves a certain way. “Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves.”

Want more information on confidence? Click here.

Click here to watch this inspiring TED-talk!


Making progress – Are you focusing on the most important motivator?

Many leaders who really ‘own’ the role of being a people leader are regularly looking for ideas that can help them to become a more effective leader. One of the most important messages relates to the ability of a leader to have an impact on the motivation and engagement levels of their team members.

In the HBR article called ‘Inner Work Life’ by Professor Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer we found that the most powerfully motivating condition people experience at work is making progress at something that is personally meaningful, even if that progress is a small win.

So if your job involves leading others, the implications are clear: 

How can you help to get the ‘stuff’ out of peoples’ way’ so they can find a sense of achievement, mastery and purpose?

leaders remove obstacles
What have you done today to help someone else have a ‘great day’ at work?

In an HBR blog by Dr Tomas Chamotto-Premuzic, he explored the question : does engagement at work actually cause higher performance – or are high-performing employees just more engaged?

A study by Gallup found that the most effective leaders don’t just motivate people by focusing on engagement, they also focused on enhancing an employee’s performance.

  • ‘Employees are seven times more likely to be engaged when they report that their managers are aware of the tasks and projects that they are working on, which suggests that when bosses make their employees accountable, their employees are more engaged.
  • Conversely, when employees perceive that their managers have no clue about what they are working on, they are 15 times more likely to be disengaged than engaged.’


In simple terms, then, if leaders can help their employees and teams perform to the highest levels, on things that matter to them - and achieve even beyond their own expectations, engagement becomes a happy by-product of success.

Bad manager mistakes that make GOOD people quit!

In our DiA small group sessions, we often talk about the challenges that certain members of our teams can create for us as leaders. You know the people I mean…the ones that are constantly negative, the ones that don’t show initiative or ownership, the needy ones that are always seeking permission or approval, the ones that seem to ‘white ant’ any changes or progress, the ones that put in ‘just enough’ to ‘pass’ but bring down the team vibe, the ones that don’t live the ‘team values’ and put strains on internal or interdepartmental relationships…

These team members often occupy a great deal of a leader’s time – either directly or even in their mind. How can I get them to be more engaged? How can I deal with this under performance? How can I broker a positive outcome?

The risk of paying attention to the ‘squeaky wheel’ – is that the solid and excellent performers are often left alone. It is so much easier leading a team of highly skilled, highly motivated and engaged team members who deliver!! It makes it easier for leaders to get on with their jobs!

But what is the role of a leader?

Yes, we often have our own tasks and deliverables – and dealing with issues in our team can make it hard to get those things done. But fundamentally, checking in with each team member IS the ROLE of the TEAM LEADER! It is not an extra part of your job. Giving time to team members, especially the ones that are performing, is vital! If you don’t, you are risking them moving on.

As Dr Travis Bradberry writes, “It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.

Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

The sad thing is that this can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.”

In this LinkedIn Post, Bradberry shares 9 bad manager mistakes that make GOOD people quit. We’ve made a simple visual of these 9 things.

How can I use this information?

  • Set aside 10 minutes today to reflect on these statements.
  • Think of each member of your team – ALL of them.
  • Could you be accused of any of these things?
  • What is one thing you could do for each person – especially the ‘GOOD ones’ to help make sure they keep delivering?


Click here to see more of this post.

DiA Discoveries - Do you want to be the smartest person in the room - or the wisest?

A few years ago I facilitated a branch workshop in a large organisation.  It was arranged for the recently appointed Division head to address the early part of the workshop.  It wasn’t a large group – only about 15 people – and relatively informal – no powerpoint slide presentations etc.  In the first few minutes he came across as professional, highly articulate, very strategic and quite personable.  He proceeded to provide his vision for where the branch needed to head and a number of ideas about what changes were required to improve the branches efficiency and effectiveness.  Upon opening it up to questions he took the opportunity to further explain his ideas through providing examples of these types of changes from other organisations, reeling off some financial data and statistics to support his position while seemlessly weaving in anecdotes and references to high profile individuals and organisations.

Then he left.

I could sense an uneasiness in the room.  We debriefed a little.  There wasn’t a great willingness to be critical of the division head, especially with their own manager in the room.  However there was clearly a view that he didn’t have a good understanding of the business, some of its unique features and nuances that may have made some of his ideas unworkable.  It may have looked like resistance to change, but my feeling was that it was more a sense of not being respected, of not being heard.

There is no doubt that you were left with the impression that he was extremely intelligent and smart individual.  But what impact did he have and what insights did he gain from the interaction?  Well, the impact was most likely a mildly diminished trust with the group.  In terms of what new insights did he gain…not much, I’d suggest.  He never asked them a question; never sought to understand their perspectives or views; never engaged them in a conversation.  An opportunity lost whilst building distrust.  Being smart isn’t on the same continuum as being wise.

But we are not all saints here – it is an easy trap to fall into.  I recall myself making the same mistake about 18 years ago.  I was three days into a new job as a quality systems facilitator at a new organisation when my boss introduced me to the partner from the accounting firm that had recently undertaken a comprehensive internal audit.  The exchange was relatively brief – in 10 minutes I’d managed to tell her a bit about my background and experience, some of the challenges I foresaw in the role and the first things I would be focusing on.  For the first few moments after the conversation I felt pretty good about myself – I thought I’d impressed her with my dazzling intelligence!  But then I started reflecting – I missed an incredible opportunity to learn something that would help me in my role.  Given the nature of the work she had done and what my role was she would have provided some fantastic insights into how the organisation worked and the opportunities for improvement.  But what did I take away – a bit fat nothing!  I was very angry at myself at this point.  However I guess the most important thing I did was recognise it.  I vowed then and there to look for opportunities for learning – in fact asking questions, being curious and engaging with people was going to be more impressive that blathering on solely about my own views.

There is a huge difference – both in terms of impact and in generation of insight and new understanding – depending on whether you approach the world as a knower or a learner.

Do you approach things as someone who knows a lot of stuff and is prepared to share it with the world or are you curious about the world, recognise that there are always opportunities for learning and that insight emerges from interaction with others?  The impact can be profound.  My working definition of wisdom – wisdom is the quest for profound ignorance – a deep knowing of my unknowing.  It may sound philosophically deep but it is practical in its impact.

So ask yourself the question:

  • As a leader are you a knower or a learner?  Are you a teller or a questioner? 
  • Are you a talker or a listener? 
  • Are you smart or wise? 
Observe yourself for the next 48 hours and see what you discover.

Click here to see this post on our website.

Some recent assignments

  • Facilitated a 'High Performing Team' workshop for a functional unit
  • Ran an EI program
  • Facilitated a workshop with Community of Practice to identify opportunities for mutual support
  • Supported a ‘culture taskforce’ to further refine desired behaviours, symbols and systems
  • Facilitated a number of planning workshops
Click here to access the Eyres & Associates website to find out what else we do!

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