Strong, Smart Mentoring Moves

 12th September 2017 by gihan

For most organisations, traditional training courses have two big weaknesses: They teach skills rather than experience, and they tend to be “one size fits all” processes. You can address both weaknesses with a simple but highly effective way of accelerating the experience curve for your team members: mentoring.

Mentoring is a one-on-one relationship, where each learner (mentoree) is paired up with a more experienced person (mentor). They meet regularly for the mentor to share their experience and guide the mentoree, who asks questions and uses the mentor as a sounding board for their ideas.

The benefits for mentorees are most obvious: They learn new skills, fast-track their development, identify new areas for growth, access new networks, have a sounding board for ideas, explore issues in a safe environment, and develop their career path.

Mentors get benefits as well: They develop listening and coaching skills, enhance their leadership skills, understand people better, stay in touch with other parts of the organisation, and give back to others.

Even if you don’t have a formal mentoring program in your organisation, mentor your team members anyway. But don’t just stop there – encourage others in the organisation to use mentoring for their own teams’ growth and development. It’s in your best interest as well, because it opens up the range of potential mentors for your team (and you). Here are some practical things you can do:

  • Offer your service as a mentor. Be a role model and ask peers and colleagues if you can mentor any of their team members.
  • Invite them to be mentors. Discuss mentoring with your peers and colleagues, and invite them to offer their time as mentors.
  • Share success stories. Showcase stories of your team members who have benefited from mentoring.
  • Conduct “career days”. Invite others in the organisation to present their work to your team members, to bring potential mentors and mentorees together.
  • Invite Human Resources to participate. Invite an HR person to be involved with your team from time to time, so they get to know the team members, and vice versa. Your team members are their “human resources”, so a good HR person should welcome the opportunity.

Finally, look for existing mentoring programs – either within your organisation or elsewhere – so you can tap into them, rather than doing everything yourself. However, if you do need to do it all yourself, do it! It’s not a difficult and time-consuming task, and it can bring great rewards for you and your team.

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Disrupt Yourself

 8th September 2017 by gihan

We hear a lot about businesses and entire industries being disrupted, but smart leaders don’t wait for somebody else to disrupt them. That’s a reactive approach, and you’ll be starting off on the back foot. Instead, these leaders take a “If it ain’t broke, break it!” approach, and find ways to lead the way in change, innovation, and disruption.

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“The need to disrupt yourself before others disrupt you”

“Risk Analysis ie reviewing perceived strengths (& the potential threats) “

“! and other up to date real world tips/disruption/apps…”

“Great insights into disruption — personal check about my own readiness for disruption — getting on the front foot to become an innovator — Start Before You are Ready”

“To be more aware of the changes in my world and how I can be the one who disrupts. Two years ago I didn’t see the changes coming so now I’m reinventing. “

“Having to look at my strengths and being ready for distruptions”

“You need to get ahead of the curve or risk the reality of disruption”

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Boost Innovation by Taking an External Perspective

 5th September 2017 by gihan

Break out of your standard thinking style by taking an outsider’s view. Use this exercise with your team and you’ll generate more ideas and better ideas.

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Disrupt Yourself – Free Webinar On Tuesday

 31st August 2017 by gihan

We hear a lot about businesses and entire industries being disrupted, but smart leaders don’t wait for somebody else to disrupt them. That’s a reactive approach, and you’ll be starting off on the back foot. Instead, these leaders take a “If it ain’t broke, break it!” approach, and find ways to lead the way in change, innovation, and disruption.

When: Tuesday 5th September, 8-8.30am WA time, 11-11.30am AEST, 1-1.30pm NZ time

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This webinar will be recorded, and the recording will be available at

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The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future - what's ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I'll cover an important topic about the future - for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I'll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

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Claim Your Expertise

 29th August 2017 by gihan

Successful leaders stand for something – and are known for it. This is your personal brand. Many entrepreneurs and business owners recognise the value of a personal brand because they can leverage it for their business. However, a personal brand is valuable for internal leaders as well:

  • You become the “go to guy/gal” in your organisation for your expertise.
  • You guide your own career path.
  • Your work becomes more meaningful and rewarding.
  • Decision-making becomes easier, because you use your personal brand as a guide.
  • You attract and retain the best people (those aligned with, and inspired by, your brand).
  • It’s easier to approach people outside your organisation for help.
  • You become a role model for team members who want to build their own personal brand.

Your personal brand is not based on a logo, clever slogan, or your personality. It’s based on two things: your expertise and your network. In other words, it’s about what you know and who you know.

As a leader, you already have expertise, knowledge and insights that others value. By sharing it, you help others and build your own credibility.

To establish your authority, put a stake in the ground and stand for something. If you haven’t yet decided on an area of expertise, here are some clues to help you identify it:

  • Leaving aside your role as their manager, what else do your team members ask you about?
  • What do peers and colleagues ask you about (again outside your formal role in the organisation)?
  • Do you have an external profile – say, with the media or public?
  • Are you passionate about something in your industry?
  • Are you passionate about something related to your role (for example, marketing, customer service, or finance)?
  • Are you passionate about something related to your work as a manager or leader (leadership, teamwork, talent retention, or goal setting)?
  • Are you passionate about some other aspect of your professional life (networking or media relations)?
  • Are you passionate about something bigger than your organisation but related to it (corporate social responsibility, climate change, Generation Y in the workplace, working away from a traditional office, female leaders, or outsourcing)?

Although it’s important to know your expertise, this isn’t essential for everything else. Even if you’re not sure of your expertise yet, accept whatever feels right now. For some people, this is a lifelong journey, so start the journey anyway.

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How to Up Your Mentoring Game

 22nd August 2017 by gihan

Even if your organisation doesn’t have a formal mentoring program in place, offer mentoring to your team members. Because mentoring can be done informally and with few resources, it’s easy to take the initiative yourself.

Find the right mentor

The old-fashioned view of mentoring was that you should not mentor your own team members, but that’s no longer the case. You can – and should – mentor your own team members, but also consider other people who can mentor them as well.

This is where you can draw on your network. Identify potential mentors, discuss them with the mentoree, help the mentoree choose one (or more), discuss the mentoring opportunity with the potential mentors, and facilitate a three-way introductory meeting to “launch” the mentoring program.

Look for mentors who can help your team members expand beyond their current “path”, whether it’s their role, expertise or experience. Mentoring allows them to expand their thinking and look further, testing and exploring in a safe environment.

Mentors can also help with the mentoree’s personal goals and ambitions. Think creatively about which mentors could bring the organisation’s resources to bear to help mentorees with goals like relocation and travel, being seconded to another department, taking unpaid leave, having flexible working hours, and so on.

Don’t limit them to just one mentor, either. The old mentoring model recommended one mentor at a time, but they can have mentors for different areas in their professional life.

If you can’t find a suitable mentor easily, consider the growing supply of paid mentoring services, usually provided by external consultants with specific experience and skills.

Be flexible with the format

Traditional mentoring is done in person, with a one-on-one meeting in an office, boardroom, or external location like a café or restaurant. As online collaboration technology has improved, mentoring no longer needs to be physical or just for one person at a time.

Videoconferencing in particular makes it easier for mentors and mentorees to conduct their mentoring sessions from different locations. It provides many of the benefits of in-person meetings, and sometimes even more – for example, recording of sessions, ability to share documents electronically, and more productive use of time. Of course, the biggest benefit is that it allows mentoring that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

It’s also possible to conduct effective mentoring in small groups. This is different from a training course because the agenda is driven by each mentoree’s needs. Although it appears to be inferior to individual mentoring, group mentoring offers some advantages (apart from the obvious efficiency of time and resources):

  • Mentorees learn by listening to the mentor’s advice to others.
  • Mentorees engage with each other, not just with their mentor.
  • Mentors can call on mentorees to provide their input and feedback into issues raised by others.
  • Mentorees can connect with each other outside the mentoring program, either to “buddy up” with each other to help with the mentoring or for other reasons.

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Hack Your Next Presentation – Smarter, Sharper, Faster

 15th August 2017 by gihan

Most presentation skills advice assumes a “typical” professional presentation: say, 30-60 minutes with you and PowerPoint at the front of the room, presenting to 5-20 people. You talk and show slides; and they listen, take notes and ask questions.

That might be typical for you as well, but it’s not the only option. Good leaders know how to tailor their message to the setting and the time available. You will deliver the same message differently in a 140-character tweet, in a small meeting room in your office, and from the stage at your organisation’s national conference.

Let’s consider five different levels at which you can deliver your message. Each builds on those before it, and is based broadly on the time you have available.

1. Just get to the point

If you have limited time, you have to get to the point immediately. As much as you would like to show slides, draw pictures, understand the audience’s starting point, and tell a compelling story, you just don’t have the time. So just get to the point!

In practice, you focus on your goal, which has two perspectives:

  • Audience: Know the outcome you want from your audience.
  • You: State your point clearly and succinctly.

2. Show them the shift

If you have a few minutes to sit down with somebody and make your point, sketch a diagram showing the current situation and what you want to change.

For example, imagine having coffee with the most important person who needs to hear your message, and they give you five minutes to present it. You know what you want from them, and you have your succinct, one-sentence point in mind. How can you make the most of the few extra minutes?

You don’t have a PowerPoint deck handy (and it’s not the right place for it anyway), but you can grab a pen and paper napkin to sketch a diagram. This isn’t a work of art; it’s just a diagram showing your current situation, and you then draw arrows or circles showing what you want to change.

3. Get them on board

At the next level, you again have more time – perhaps ten minutes rather than five. What will you add now to your presentation? You could add a story, share some facts and data, or even show a brief slide show. These are all effective, but we’re going to leave them to the next stage.

Instead, at this stage, a more powerful approach is to focus on what happens immediately before and immediately after your presentation:

  • Before (framing): Get the audience in the right frame of mind to hear your message.
  • After (pacing): Step them through the specific action you want them to take after you end.

4. Add colour and texture

The presentation we have created so far has a point, a goal, a diagram to show a shift, understanding of the audience’s frame of mind, and clear action steps. That’s a good start, but it doesn’t have much depth. It’s a cartoon, not a painting. If you have limited time, it’s better than nothing; but if you have more time, you can do better. So let’s add colour and texture to it.

We have two main tools available: stories, to appeal to their emotions; and data, to appeal to their logical mind.

Most business presentations have too much data and too few stories. To make your presentation more effective, use both stories and data to reinforce your message.

5. Make it active

You now have an effective presentation. Its only weakness is that it’s one-way delivery only, with your audience sitting there passively absorbing it. The final step is to build in opportunities for audience interaction. Rather than adding more points, more stories, or more data, use that extra time for audience interaction.

Do you have all five levels of flexibility?

Putting this all together gives you a formula for a powerful presentation:

You build it from bottom to top, adding more components to fill the available time. If you have only a few minutes, you might have to settle for just the first two levels (know your goal, and draw a quick sketch to make your point). With longer presentations, you can add more levels. With experience, you can even mix up the order (for example, using a story in even a short presentation).

You now have diverse ways of presenting your message, depending on the length of time available.

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Professional Development for Distributed Teams

 10th August 2017 by gihan

Members of distributed teams value and expect opportunities for professional development just as much as in-office team members. As a leader or manager, be proactive and innovative to find ways to help accelerate the experience curve for your distributed team members.

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