THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Do you stand out for the right or wrong reasons?

Spotting potential and developing yourself or those in your teams take a certain degree of judgment and a whole lot of effort! Incompetent leaders have teams who turn on each other and fight in a non-productive manner.  There is absolutely no reason why everyone, with developmental help and an attuned sense of professional self-awareness, cannot all be rising stars and creative and productive team members.  Aresko can help, in all sorts of ways.  With a small bundle of tools and techniques (360° feedback/Belbin team role analysis)  we can help to spot where on the matrix below your team members might be now, and we can give developmental support on how to affect a shift into “high performing team” status.  So what are you waiting for?

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High performance, low potential. Every team needs some so give recognition for good work, use to coach others in getting done what matters. Then consider whether they really have no potential, which will be highly unlikely.  Everyone has potential, it just needs spotting and developing.  We can help you spot and develop!


Low performance, low potential. This crew could contain potential stars and backbones, they just might not be being motivated in the best way.  We ca help you counsel, establish trust, agree aims, and take action to help, including outplacement if best. It is vital you understand what makes your icebergs tick.


High performance, high potential group. They will need challenging work to stretch them.  We can help you coach and mentor them to agree stretching projects and produce satisfying career development.


Low performance, high potential individuals who are often bored from low challenge on a daily basis. They will need to be inspired, motivated, encouraged and managed very carefully indeed or else they can often be the instigators of nasty fighting.  We can help you determine whether there is any personal agenda in play.  Those who care more about their own, rather than the teams success, hunger after control or credit.  When this is evident, they are the ones who will fight for it but who will refuse to give it to others. It’s time for a tough conversation at this point and we can help you prepare to deliver it in a constructive, non-damaging way.

So to help create productive teams, approach Aresko at the earliest opportunity and avoid the naughty fighting culture which focusses on people.  Instead, let us help you focus on nice fighting which focusses on issues.

Productive Fit:

Those who don’t fit, fight. Team formation establishes team potential.

Icebergs and Problem Children, who don’t fit for one reason or another, ruin teams and do nothing but stop high performance. Let us help you create a more productive fit:

  1. Identify purpose. Why are we here? Know who you are before identifying those who fit or need a bit more help.
  2. Establish your code of conduct. How will you treat each other?

Will you interrupt each other during discussions correctly or incorrectly? 
What happens if someone is late or doesn’t follow through?
 Will you have fun or be serious? 
How will you solve disagreements?
 What does candor look like in your team?

All these are vitally important in building an effective and productive team culture and working environment.  Where are you and your team right now? Do you know for sure or is your wet finger in the air on this?


THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – What gets you REALLY worked up?


Image credit: VentureBeat

Ms Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! has been ruffling feathers yet again.  She did it a few months ago about home working, so we featured a poll here in this blog about whether you supported her view.  It couldn’t have got a lot of people energised (my poll that is) as I got nothing back – seems it was one of those “if it doesn’t affect me, what’s the point in contributing” issues.

Anyway, onwards and upwards, this week she’s done it again, so she might well be worth keeping an eye on!  Notoriety is not altogether a good thing.  I like quirky a lot, but there is only so much silly things someone in a VERY high position can say, before their reputation does down the pan and nobody listens anymore.  Particularly if you are a woman. So … consider this recent missive of hers:

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Photography is one of my true loves.  In fact Aresko Photography has a blog of it’s own HERE.  And a comment like this is sure to get me REALLY worked up.  I’m still in awe of many professional photographers who are able to produce sheer works of art by standing on the same spot as me.  The great Ansel Adams said:

Ansel Adams

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” ― Ansel Adams

 However, according to Ms Mayer, this professional skill does not exist anymore.  Poppycock!

Here is a link to a rant, from a now extinct professional photographer on how it made her (yes it was a woman, get over it) feel.

This has been this week’s issue that has managed to ignite the fury in me.  Because I care about the issue.  What issues do you get passionate and energised about?

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Are you listening with all 6 ears?


The Chinese character for the verb “to listen” tells us something significant about this skill.  It identifies 6 active elements of listening:

  • You – in your entirety or maximum attention
  • Eyes – as many as possible
  • One or a single undivided attention
  • the heart
  • the ear
  • thinking like a king

To listen actively will mean employing all 6 elements in equal measure – not merely one as we traditionally think, our ears.  This clearly distinguishes the difference between listening and just hearing and it sums up the problems I experience in the workplace on a regular basis.

To move from hearing to active listening, we need to overcome 12 blockages. You are bound to have noticed one or two of them in your everyday professional lives, if not more.  Are you guilty of any yourself?  These can be overcome.  Are you:

  1. COMPARING: do you instantly retort with “mine is better/worse/the same as yours”  This sort of retort puts a stop to compassion and empathy – it’s a competitive situation and it instantly stops real listening, ie getting to the root of what they are trying to tell you.  You are not employing your heart in the listening process;
  2. MIND READING: if you constantly draw conclusions based on vague misgivings, hunches, or projections, before someone has finished relating their story. You will be more concerned about your own feelings than theirs.  This again stops empathy and true understanding.  You are not giving your undivided attention;
  3. REHEARSING: Are they looking interested whilst you are busy rehearsing your responses to their words.  They have a point to make, a story to tell, or an objection to make clear, yet they are having to spend their time preparing to rebut, defend or manoeuvre your ideas instead.  You are not employing your eyes;
  4. FILTERING: the object here is to avoid problems.  If you avoid anger or are afraid of it, you will particularly pick up on “angry” signs. If you perceive none, then your mind might wander.  You will find yourself listening enough to see if a particular problem is coming and if it isn’t, then you fog out.  You are not thinking like a king;
  5. JUDGING: Almost everyone’s favourite this one!  Quick judgements based on prejudices or opinion allow us to write someone or something off as stupid, uninformed, or whatever.  Judgment is best done after knowing all the facts or knowing the background.  You are not employing your ears properly;
  6. DREAMING: Words trigger own private thoughts and associations and sometimes you or another find themselves floating off into that associated world.  By the time another trigger brings you back to the present, everyone is talking about something else You are not giving your full and undivided attention;
  7. IDENTIFYING: things others are saying triggers your own experience about a similar incident and if unrestrained, you launch happily into your own story about you (or you find yourself in the company of someone else who does this regularly). You are not employing your heart properly towards their issues;
  8. ADVISING: Whilst you are busy giving great advice about this or that, you are missing their points and don’t acknowledge the full situation. You are alone in your joy or pain of the advice at that point. You are not employing your eyes to focus on their issues;
  9. SPARRING: this often starts with looking for things to disagree with.  It continues with put-downs and discounts, e.g. “are you still doing that?” “you don’t know what you are talking about” or more subtle versions and it always ends badly. You are not employing your heart and neither are you thinking like a king;
  10. BEING RIGHT: low self esteem can often mean you or someone else has trouble with criticism or corrections so you or they go to great lengths in order to be “right”. It can manifest with over-riding others with a loud voice, insults, twisting facts, or with rigidity with other tactics. You are not employing your undivided attention;
  11. DERAILING: two fast ways to derail someone include: an abrupt change of subject when you or another is getting uncomfortable or bored; or joking it off – nothing is serious about the issue. You are not employing your heart to their issues;
  12. PLACATING: of course; yes really; terrific; incredible; right; wow.  This shows you or another wants to be liked in this relationship and agrees with almost everything.  Test it by feeding them mush and see what happens! You are neither employing your ears nor thinking like a king!

If you reframe your understanding of listening along the lines of the 6 core elements which the Chinese consider profound, then it all becomes crystal clear when you, or others are really listening doesn’t it? Test it out for yourself and let me know if or how it changes your thinking.

Opposing mindsets: Which one resonates more with you?

Yahoo recently produced a big debate around working from home. It’s Chief Executive, Marissa Mayer, instructed the whole organisation as follows:

“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.  We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

Many have disagreed with this approach, most notably, Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.  In his blog, he said:

“Many employees who work from home are diligent, get their jobs done, and spend more time with their families.  They waste less time commuting and get a better work/life balance. To force everybody to work in offices is old-school thinking.”

So we have diametrically opposing views here.  My personal experience suggests the former is better for very young teams or organisations, before a trusting relationship is established.  Thereafter, the latter approach produces loyal and very hardworking staff, who never flinch at going the extra mile when its needed because of their gratitude in being trusted and being given some flexibility in their working life.  It’s never let me down in any case.

Which mantra do you subscribe to and why?

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – How do you demonstrate your personal qualities?

We’ve often talked about leadership qualities through this blog and this week we do so again, with  no apologies.  This blog is about improving your personal contribution in the workplace and leadership is just one domain of that menu.

Effective leadership requires individuals to draw upon their values, strengths and abilities to deliver high standards of service. To do so, they must demonstrate effectiveness in:

  • Developing self awareness by being aware of their own values, principles, and assumptions, and by being able to learn from experiences
  • Managing yourself by organising and managing themselves while taking account of the needs and priorities of others
  • Continuing personal development by learning through participating in continuing professional development and from experience and feedback
  • Acting with integrity by behaving in an open, honest and ethical manner.

Look at statements below:

On the scale next to each statement, choose a rating that reflects how frequently it applies to you then total your scores after each domain and reflect on how you have scored yourself.

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This interesting exercise will stand you in good stead for the first part of any future leadership assessment programme.

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