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Spark – where do I find it now?

Ah COVID-19.  I dislike you for many reasons.  One of these reasons is that you have taken away my opportunity to find a spark, particularly at work.  A spark in the workplace is that unplanned, surreptitious moment where you are discussing an idea with a colleague in person.  The idea only improves as you gently tap it back to each other, building on the idea each time you return it, like a game of volleyball.  Damn you COVID.  How am I supposed to find a spark now?  This is the question that a client asked me recently.  This is how I responded (not entirely, but you will get the drift of how the conversation went).

Working in a different way challenges our routine, habits, and the ability to do our thing, the way we are used to doing it.  So, we can lament the fact that so much has been taken away from us during this time, or we can accept that it is not great, but it can work.   

I don’t know about you, but I find zoom, or any other virtual meeting platform lacking in spark.  The key reason I have identified is that when I have a zoom meeting- it is just that.  A meeting that is planned, has a topic, a timeframe and invited participants.  When I have a spark moment at work, it is generally unplanned, unstructured, in person, it may involve a whiteboard, post it notes and a physical space to promote lots of sparks. Now of course brainstorming sessions can be planned and often are.  However, think back to the best ideas that have occurred at work.  Where were you?  Who were you with? What were you doing? I bet it was something offbeat, out of the norm and unexpected.  This is where the best sparks can be found.

So how do we create the right conditions for sparks and creative moments outside of the physical workplace.  Firstly, we need to challenge our established definition of a workplace.  Where once a upon a time (or in the olden days as my kids like to say, even though they are referring only as far back as the early 2000’s) we congregated at work in the same place and the same time most days of the week, this has now changed.  I will go so far as to say this has permanently changed.  Many will not return to this kind of structure.  We will work from varied locations, on varied days and times.   So, we need to find a way to encourage sparks in a new way of working.

We could find sparks in a phone call, in a walk and talk session, in a virtual “drop in” time where you can choose to hangout in a virtual platform on virtual tables, couches or beanbags and share ideas with colleagues.  Or lots of sharing platforms have the functionality where you can post an idea and have colleagues provide feedback and add to your idea.  Some organisations will have already been doing this for some or most of the time but for many organisations this way of working is all new.  However, it can still bring a spark. 

In Cultivating Creativity, Miller (2015) tells us that the creating mind, poses unfamiliar questions, conjures fresh ways of thinking, arrives at unexpected answers, posits new ideas, considers multiple angles, assumes alternate identities, devises ingenious solutions, shifts frameworks, presents uncertainty, surprise disequilibrium and takes interpretive risks.

Let’s not focus on the barriers that could get in the way of great creative thinking.  We could do all of the above in person, on a phone, on a video conference or via a chat function.  The fundamental aspect is the thinking, not the location or the environment. 

Whilst the way we work has changed, there are still lots of opportunities to create sparks, to create with others, to collaborate and to innovate.  And we now have more options for when why and how these sparks occur.    

5 common mistakes in building business relationships

You have been allocated a new internal client group to partner with.  You don’t really know the leaders or the team, but you are keen to get in, make a great impression, build the relationship and offer high value as a Business Partner.  We can set out with best of intentions and leverage our reputation and experience, but even with those right factors in place, sometimes it can go wrong.

I am a firm believer in learning and putting our stuff ups learning in practice.  So here are 5 common mistakes Business Partners can make and how to avoid them.    

1.You try and become their bestie

Of course, in any relationship one key factor is likability.  When we like people, and they like us, things are so much easier.  There is common ground, we get along, we make time for each other; things run smoothly.  However, what you should avoid is becoming your clients bestie.  Too much familiarity can come across as disingenuous and perhaps a little desperate.  So be cool.  Take note of the pace of the likability scale in the relationship.  Be kind, be pleasant, be responsive, but don’t try to become their bestie in the hope that it will be easier for you to have them as your internal client.  It will only over complicate your relationship, blur lines and inhibit you from doing good work.

2. You are all about the tasks

Being a Business Partner often has us navigating ambiguous territory.  The problem to resolve is not always clear or known for that matter.  If you go in too task focused with your list to implement, your client is likely to feel stifled and that there isn’t a shared agenda, purpose, or common goal to achieve.  So, balance your task orientation by focusing on the bigger picture.  Bring in a strategic mindset.  Ask more questions (clever ones) than you answer to prompt thinking and discussion with your client and their team.  Achieving and delivering is important, and your client will value that even more, when the tasks are considered in a macro context.  This elevates your value as a Business Partner.

3. There is a lack of trust

Trust is the foundational pillar of any relationship. If you don’t trust your client and they don’t trust you it’s really hard to do good work.  However, trust is built at different speeds.  Some people trust quickly, as soon as they meet you.  Others take months to trust and want to see and feel evidence of you being trustworthy before they give this to you.  What ever the case, a key ingredient to building trust is honesty.  In a business relationship, honesty is conveyed when you are genuine in the feedback you provide.  As your building your relationship, ask your client if they are happy for you to provide some feedback (on whatever the issue is).   Once they open their vulnerability door, you are in a room that requires respect and kindness.  To keep this door open, focus on trust, intently.  Because it can be lost quickly irrespective of the time you have worked together and how well you know each other. 

4. Don’t be passive

In a Business Partner role, you are a leader.  You are an expert that has a ticket to play with your client groups, based on the expertise you bring.  However, you will be exposed to broader issues that may fall outside of your area of expertise.  You may need to participate in a project that has a broad business focus.  Don’t just show up for the bits that fit your area of expertise.  Be present when discussions are occurring about broader areas. This will demonstrate your strategic mindset and organisational awareness which increase your value as a Business Partner.

5. Learn the communication dance

Great dancing includes flow, rhythm, listening to the beat, and being in step with your partner.  There are a lot of lessons we can learn from dancing that we can use in communication.  If you’re not into dancing, that’s ok; you can still apply the lessons here to how we communicate.  For great communication with your clients, listen more than you speak.  This is key.  As tempting as it may be when you’re in a discussion to impress with what you know, you could run the risk of your client switching off.    One-way streets are annoying.  Don’t set up a scenario where you create a one-way street where you are doing all the talking.  When we are communicating effectively, we are doing so with our eyes and ears.  Ask great questions and know that it’s ok to not always have the answers straight away.  Effective communicators watch for behaviours that tell them the person is still engaged and they are inclusive.  Your motto here is “seek to understand” rather than “tell them what I know”.

The key to building great business relationships is not really dissimilar to building any relationship.  Lots of self-awareness coupled with compassion, kindness, patience, and understanding will have you on your way to building relationships that last.  Be humble enough to learn from your stuff ups and know that as with most good things in life, achieving quality takes time.

Strategic Thinking – holy grail of Business Partnering

For the first part of my career (first 10 years post-graduation), I defined myself as very unstrategic.  Whiteboards, markers, “blue sky thinking” and brain storming sessions bored me, because I saw it as keeping me away from my tasks, my real work.   I was so focused on doing, which in my mind created value (and it probably did for my clients) that I could think of nothing worse than time wasted in front of a whiteboard or writing strategic plans.  Even in diagnostic assessments I rated high on operational tasks, low on strategic thinking.  I wore it like a badge of honour.  “Don’t think, do” was my mantra.

At almost 30 years of age I had a baby and I got divorced in the same year.  I grew up, quickly. Then I became strategic.

Shortly following my parental leave, the then Chief Operations Officer (a key client of mine) shared an observation with me.  She commented that I had changed since I supported her when she was in the Chief Information Officer role. I no longer led with textbook answers.  I no longer had to be right or perfect in my responses.  Taking a question on notice was appreciated because the response I came back with was richer and of higher value for her and her team. I was engaging in more strategic thinking and it was being seen and felt by my clients.

I felt more comfortable than ever sitting in ambiguity and exploring complexity without necessarily coming up with an answer straight away.  I learned that slowing down to speed up served me well.  It reduced the need for re-work because of a lack of strategic thinking.  I learned that the value I brought to my internal clients as a Business Partner was not my speed, but my ability to look at an issue holistically and explore it from all perspectives before acting.  This enabled me to be proactive and look ahead when my clients were in the detail.  It gave me foresight and the desire to look at an issue from all perspectives.  I asked more questions than what I answered to gain a deeper understanding.  This was a pivotal point in my career as a Business Partner.

I went on to lead teams and I took on Executive and Board roles.  The lessons I learned in those years of my transition from operational to strategic thinking have served me in all roles and continue to.

If you are daunted by strategic thinking and define yourself as not having it; challenge your mindset.  You are likely to be more strategic than you think.  Once we value something and we can see the benefit, we can adopt it as a preference.  In personality diagnostic testing, I now score high on strategic thinking.  I think it was always there- I just didn’t lead with it.

Strategic thinking is the holy grail for Business Partners- it helps you see what your clients may not.  This increases your value proposition as a Business Partner, and it enhances your ability to advise and connect with your clients.

The value of the Business Partner role

If you search “Business Partner” as a role in a job search site, you will find literally thousands of jobs with this title.  As ubiquitous as it may be, the role is often very different in various organisations.  Yes, as the term suggest, a Business Partner, engages in partnering- but what does that even mean?  In some organisations it will be about hand holding leaders and colleagues, attending to transactional and operational needs.  In some organisations the role will operate at a very strategic level and be involved in key decisions and activities along with members of the senior team. 

Photo credit: Toa Heftiba

So, what dictates the difference?

I don’t think it’s about the organisation, the leader or the culture.  My view is that it is about the capability of the Business Partner. 

Now have you ever cooked a dish to find out that it is edible, but it is missing something.  You might cook the same dish time and time again, for months and even years, only to realise at some point that you were missing a key ingredient, and once added, your dish popped and rose to the leader board of best meals ever.  Your previous dish was fine.  But your new ingredient and slightly amended cooking process changed the dish.  There is no way you are going back to your previous version. 

The capabilities required to be a highly valuable Business Partner are not really known, until you experience them and realise what these capabilities provide.  Without them you still have a Business Partner that you will use, but they may not pop, like my dish.    

There is no clear definition of a great Business Partner, but you know when you have a great one and when you don’t.  A valuable Business Partner contributes to a broad range of initiatives outside their area of technical expertise, because they have a strategic mindset and they have organisational awareness. They are able to draw insights from complexity and communicate ideas eloquently and simply.  They are personable, have a genuine interest in collaboration that they know that trust underpins all relationships.  Above all they work intently to drive business value, and if they don’t, there is really no point having them there.

Many Business Partners lament that they aren’t involved in strategic issues.  They are desperately looking for a seat at the table.  My advice to them always is that to move from irrelevant at the extreme to being highly valued, they need to earn their ticket to play by demonstrating the value they bring to their organisation, their leader and the team.  They need to do this consistently.  This builds their credibility and demonstrates their value.

My advice for Business Partners is to experiment with different ingredients and approaches, and you will go from being a dish that is fine, to one that is outstanding.  That is when you will know that the business needs what you bring.

New world of work

We are here and ready for a new world of work!

We offer flexibility, we have great policies supporting new ways of working, we even bring our dogs into work – we are set up to make this happen!    We have more data than what we know what to do with. We’re in a new world.  A world where flexibility is the norm. 

But is it?

We are off to a good start – women make up almost half the workforce (46.9%)

Women graduate from year 12, undergraduate and post graduate degrees at a higher rate than men.

Once they get to the workforce, women represent 17.1% of CEOs and 30.5% of key management personnel and at Board level, women hold 29.7% of directorships and 13.7% of chair positions.  In 2018, 45% of new appointments to ASX 200 orgs went to women.  

Our pay gap is still sitting at 14.1%, however the data shows that it appears to be closing, albeit at a snail pace.

There is a whopping 42% difference in superannuation balances at retirement age between men and women.

Research supports that women are still taking on most caring responsibilities and domestic work outside of paid employment. 

So there is a heap of data that shows some movement, but the movement is not commensurate with the effort.

We have made some dents in achieving gender equality and we are thankful to all those that have come before us and their significant efforts in achieving change.

It feels that we all want the change, the equality, the reduction of what can feel like the burden of “having it all”, but it also feels like it’s moving 1000 titanic ships with a dingy boat.

I, and I’m sure others question why further change has not been achieved, given the efforts. 

In the research I have done, despite the many changes occurring in support of increasing female representation at work, and the rise of the gig worker and seeking new ways of working, we still find ourselves asking, why are we struggling with the way we currently work? 

We’re making changes but we are not looking seriously enough in organisations at the system of work.  How we work, where and when we work and measures of productivity.  Presenteeism is still prevalent.  Job share and part-time opportunities occur at lower levels, but hardly at the senior roles.  How do we expect women to take on senior roles when conditions are not conducive to them doing so?

We need to understand why women don’t think that they can access the roles they may have been aspiring to for years.  Why are some women inclined to steer away from a career path because a different one is perceived to be easier for them to manage from a lifestyle perspective? Why can’t we access flexibility and have a senior role in a large organisation?  Why do some women leave the workforce temporarily to have a family but never return to the senior roles they left? 

People are looking for something different.  An opportunity for them to take real control of their futures.  If the system of work doesn’t change to meet our needs, people are finding alternatives. 

Despite the many changes, organisations haven’t changed the way work is done at senior levels.  There are very few if any examples of senior female leaders that have careers and attend to their personal priorities.  It’s almost always one or the other.  Unless the way we work changes, we will continue to see very little change in the representation of females in senior roles. 

The case for change is evident. 

36% of all U.S. workers participate in the gig economy in some capacity, including part timers and multiple job holders.  Here in Australia, the figure of those working in the gig economy is sitting at approx. 19.5%, with 2.5 million working this way out of a total workforce of just over 12.8m.  That figure is set to rise. 

We are seeing a significant shift towards people wanting to be self-employed, wanting to leave organisations that are not aligned to their values and ways of working, and the rise of organisations creating fulfilment through work and life on a deeper level. 

The future of work isn’t just about big tech implementations or robots taking jobs, it’s about understanding that we need to focus on people.   Their experiences, their sense of worth and value, and what they give and take to the employment relationship. 

I think across all industries, we need to think differently by spending more time conceptualising possibilities, seeking out divergent views, and embracing complexity, and less time formulating specific strategies and plans.   We need to act differently by saying yes more than we say no.  Saying yes, comes with the responsibility of working out how to change something.  Saying no is easy.     

If we really change the system of work, we will see a greater gender balance in senior roles across all industries in our country, we will achieve gender parity and we will increase the respect for women in our society.  We will also have a workforce where people are genuinely fulfilled because they work in a way that respects their humanness and enables them to fulfill all aspects of their lives.

The life of a Consultant – my first year

12 months ago life looked very different to what it does now.

I knew I was about to leave my big grown up job, but others didn’t.  I knew that it was time to enact my vision, a vision that I had worked on for two years prior.  And fundamentally I knew it was time.

My vision was risky.  It entailed me leaving a career that I had built over 20 years.  It meant losing aspects of my identity.  It meant stepping into who I am, fully, deeply and honestly.  It provided the opportunity to more deeply connect with the role of being a mother on a level previously unknown to me.

The learning curve was steep.

I was setting up a business for the first time.  I became the marketing, IT and finance department.    

I had to balance the excitement with pragmatism, the fear with courage and the doubts with optimism.

I tried many different strategies.  Some worked and some didn’t.  And that was just fine.  Because in my first year, I set out to try lots of different things.  My measures of success were not about making lots of money.    It was about feeling fulfilled as an individual.  My view on money and success is that it will come if you enjoy what you are doing, and you do an outstanding job.    

Having my vision, meant that when I had the opportunity to try something different, I knew what I was moving towards and I could focus on this rather than what I was leaving.  This felt extremely empowering.  I had put the time into really thinking about what I wanted, and I had control over when I enacted it.

The practical things I learned:

  • Treat your time as the most precious commodity you have, don’t waste it
  • Take time for self-care and integrate this as part of your life, daily- not as a one-off event
  • Keep a routine, just as you did when you were at work – this helps treat time respectfully
  • Ensure you have people to connect with regularly – being self employed can be lonely at times
  • Be generous with your advice – what you give you receive back in abundance
  • Have a vision with clear goals – this keeps you accountable and on track when boredom and procrastination hovers – and it does
  • Be honest with yourself – it’s the key to living a fulfilled life

I am thankful for the decision I made.  It ultimately allowed me to step into who I am, unencumbered.  It has enabled me to define who I am without the shackles of a job or career.  It has allowed me to integrate work and life fully and on my terms.

Let’s wear red

We are enticed to experience shock and frustration when a high-profile female leaves a senior role.  As females we are told that we can and should pursue careers, follow our dreams and raise children in the current system of work.  A system of work that was created for men with partners at home to manage households.  It has been in existence for over 100 years, with some changes, but just dents really in the context of making it successful for today’s families.  The latest high-profile female to quit her job is politician, Kelly O’Dwyer but many have gone before her on a similar path such as Em Rusciano, Jessica Rowe and Maddi Wright, all leaving media roles citing family reasons as one of the main catalysts.  Let’s not ignore the many, non-high-profile folk, including myself who have made the decision to step away from careers when we have been at the pinnacle, after having built what we perceived as “futures” for 15-20 years. 

“Having it all” is not really having it all.  Something always has to give.  The give often varies from family to family and individual to individual.  Combining work and parenting is exhausting, relentless and most of the time, sad as it is, we hurry and wish the years away in search of reprieve from the exhaustion and the very full calendars and schedules.  We seldom discuss the reality of working and parenting publicly though, as we post the most glorious 30 seconds (if that) of our day where there are smiles, beautiful meals and holiday snaps in our perfectly curated social media feeds. 

In the current system of work we are largely expected to work in structures and systems as if we don’t have kids or other commitments and responsibilities.  Hours in a senior role, hover around 60 hours per week, with workloads spanning across the entire 24 hour period of a day, because now they can.  We are under an illusion that because we can negotiate to arrive later or leave earlier we have “flexibility”.  In theory we do, because we have at least in some workplaces broken the back of being physically present for 38 hours per week in our workplaces, however waking at 5 am to get a couple of hours work in before the family wakes or logging back on at 9pm with a glass of red in hand has elongated the 8 hours per day into 18 hours.  It has made us more tired, irritable, overweight and disconnected from anything other than work.  We work whenever we can grab a moment, whenever the laptop, tablet or phone is nearby, and whenever we have distracted loved ones for long enough, so we can punch out another few emails. 

It therefore comes as no surprise whatsoever to me and many others who have also made the decision to walk away from all that comes with being a working parent when a female in a high-profile role quits.  The feeling of never having focus on one thing at a time, the guilt that permeates every single experience we have every day, because we got there late, we missed a personal or work milestone or we had to apologise for leaving early.  It’s the feeling of never being enough for our partners, our kids, our work, and above all ourselves.

It is now up to us to change the system of work.

It is up to us to work in a way that suits us.

It is up to us to ask why we would continue slogging away every day in the way we do, when there can be an alternative.

We can have a system of work where we are engaged to fulfil objectives of a role on our terms, in the hours and days we want, no questions asked.  Where sharing the same role with a colleague is as normal as having one person in the role.  Where if job sharing is a problem for your boss, it’s their issue to work through rather than yours. Where the working relationship consists of the objectives and outcomes of the job to be done. Where useless, time-wasting activities that currently constitute so much of the working week are abolished and real work is done.

Together, we can change the system of work.  The tipping point where they need us, rather than us needing them is almost here.  The war for talent is here. Our world is now a lot smaller, creating opportunities for us to work nationally and internationally without leaving our cities.

I would like to see a sea of red on Monday 18th February 2019.

I would like to see everyone that cares about changing the system of work so we can live healthier, more fulfilled lives in red.

If we really change the system of work, we will see a greater gender balance in senior roles across all industries in our country, we will achieve gender parity and we will increase the respect for women in our society. 

Julie Bishop started it, Kelly O’Dwyer has continued it and now I would like to see us all stand in red to demonstrate our commitment to changing the system of work for good.

18 February 2019

National “Change the system of work” Day

#wearred

New Year… Different approach to goal setting

New year

New goals

Progress

Movement

Bigger, stronger, faster, better

But what if it wasn’t?

What if a new year brought something different?

Smaller, slower, calmer, better

If you were feeling pumped about your big goals yesterday, and today you are feeling less enthused, perhaps take a moment to consider what you’ve set out to achieve.

I am all for setting big ambitious goals and working hard to achieve them, but sometimes we need to set big ambitious goals and work hard to achieve something different.

More time to stop, reflect, consider and move slower.

The expectation and anticipation that accompanies new year goals can be overwhelming, like you’re setting out to climb a big mountain.  At times we can feel exhilarated by this, but sometimes we don’t.  And that’s ok.

If you can, just pause in January.  There’s a whole year ahead. And on that topic, I’ve been thinking about 12-month goals… I prefer seasonal goals.  For a few reasons:

  1.  I like to adjust my goals to the seasons.  In the warmer months I’m drawn to different things than I am in the cooler months, so it makes sense to adjust my goals to the seasons, so I can feel optimal in mind and body
  2. I like to measure progress regularly, so I can adapt as I go… agile in practice
  3. Circumstances and feelings change – and so can my goals
  4. Minimises boredom of feeling “locked in” for 12 months

January is a great month to reflect and consider your vision, your story, your path.  In the quiet and calmness of reflection, our creativity and ideas tend to emerge.    Allow yourself time and space to feel this, so you can have clarity about what you want and need.

I wish you a fantastic year ahead, where you take big intentional deep breaths often and be calm knowing that all that you need, you already have within you. 

Leader, are you lonesome today?

Photo cred: Alex Ivashenko (Unsplash)

Leader, are you lonesome today?

Elvis Presley along with so many music legends have written songs about being lonely.  “Are you lonesome tonight?” is one of many tunes that tells the story of a soul that feels abandoned and forgotten.  Now while love songs and work don’t have a lot in common, one thing that does connect these two themes are loneliness, particularly in leadership. 

Leadership.  There’s a lot of responsibility encapsulated in one word.  And so, there should be, because if your job involves leadership, you lead.  You set visions, goals, you encourage and motivate people, you are expected to know a lot of stuff and make decisions.  You are the barrier remover and the relationship builder.  You are the strategist and visionary.  People come to you for inspiration, advice and problem sharing and solving.   To borrow a term from a children’s book, there’s a lot of taking from your bucket, but perhaps not a lot of filling your bucket.  This can leave leaders feeling depleted, even burnt out and increasingly lonely.

How do we explain loneliness at work?  This is difficult because just like stress, fatigue and burn out, it feels different in every person. 

Loneliness at work and overall in society is on the rise.  Research has found that leaders feel stress, alienation, loneliness, and emotional burn out.  We know that loneliness impacts motivation, business results, decision making and professional and personal relationships.  The research also demonstrates that there is a correlation between leadership and loneliness.  “The “top” is not typically a crowded place.” (Rokash 2014)  By the time you reach the top, there are less places to go for advice and support.  For some, there is more perceived risk in seeking help from the apex.  Research also shows that loneliness in small business owners and entrepreneurs is even higher than for those in larger organisations.    

Just like stress, loneliness feels different for each person.  It impacts our mental and physical health to varying degrees.  It has no bounds when it comes to demographics, social status and geography, therefore being felt by anyone and everyone at some point in their lives.   

Humans like to know they belong, and they relish in being part of something.  When leaders progress their careers, this feeling of belonging and tangible contribution becomes more elusive.

There are ways to combat and reduce the feelings associated with loneliness at the top.  Here they are:

  • Genuinely acknowledge the feeling

No point ignoring it if it is the way you feel.  Genuinely acknowledging it means you are accepting the way you feel and therefore you are less likely to adversely judge yourself for feeling that way.  Let those close to you such as family members know how you are feeling.   You may not be aware that the loneliness you feel could be impacting them too. 

  • Reach out to a trusted person in your world

This may be a friend, family member, mentor or coach.  This one is easier said than done because it requires vulnerability, which some leaders avoid.  Let someone know how you are feeling.  Let them know what you need.  If you just need to talk, without advice let them know.  However well meaning, sometimes the delivery of advice when you’re feeling vulnerable is not always useful.  If you are ready for advice, let them know that too.  This will help them to help you.

  • Connect with whatever makes you feel nurtured

Whether it’s exercise, a doona day, spending time with loved ones, listening to music or reading – do it.  Do feel good stuff that soothes the soul.  It’s about replenishing and filling your bucket.  Increasing your activity outside of work, while time challenging is also important.  This will maintain your social circles and keep you connected to people- remember we feel good when we belong, and we are part of something. 

  • Build new networks and relationships

This is not an easy one when you are feeling lonely.  Even though connecting with others makes practical sense to combat loneliness, it’s often the last thing we want to do.  However, getting out there and attending functions and events can provide networks outside of our organisations.  In these networking functions – you aren’t the leader; you are just one of the group of participants. 

  • Think about the teams you belong to- what you give them and what you get from them

In a leadership role you will often belong to multiple teams, i.e. the Executive team and the team you lead if you’re not the CEO.  The people in these teams are your people.  Support can likely be found in these teams.  If you find that your trust is wavering in some of these teams – try and get to the source of why.    Feelings of distrust can increase loneliness as we tend to move away from people we don’t trust.  However, addressing the source of the distrust can help as you get to really consider why you feel the way you do and what you can do about it. 

  • Recreate the narrative about leadership

Throughout history leaders have been positioned as strong and invincible.  We are only now starting to really appreciate the benefits that come with demonstrating vulnerability.  Vulnerability in leadership increases the authenticity of the leader. This in turn increases trust in the leader.    If you are feeling lonely, reach out.  Don’t play to the narrative that you must always be strong and invincible.  You may be a leader, but you’re human too.

Leadership can be lonely however it is also rewarding and brings many moments of pride, challenge and joy as you lead a team to deliver on a strategy, positively impact communities and change lives.   Through accepting that at times we will feel vulnerable and acknowledging that it’s ok, we will recreate the narrative about leadership. 

Rita Cincotta is a Principal Consultant at Human Dimensions. Rita works as an Executive Coach and as a Consultant specialising in people strategies, creating high performing individuals and teams, diversity and inclusion, employee relations, talent management and leadership development.