Top 5 Lessons In 2020 That Shape The Future

What are your top 5 lessons from 2020?

By Craig Johns

I was asked the question the other day – what would I leave behind in 2020? It stopped me in my tracks, as I tried really hard to think of anything that I didn’t want to take into 2021. In the end I said “the Fridge”, yes, like many I have worn a nice track between my home office and the kitchen during 2020.

Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing I would leave behind. Everyone responds differently in crisis, uncertainty and change. For me I thrive on it and in fact, it is right in my element. Did everything in my life go perfect in 2020? Far from it! However, I was quickly able to draw on my natural intuition to learn from every mistake, uncertainty and crisis to make a number of effective decisions.

Here are my top 5 lessons from 2020 for the future…

  1. Resourceful before resources
  2. Collaboration wins
  3. Serve others first
  4. Be the calming influence
  5. Simplification is sophistication

#1 RESOURCEFUL BEFORE RESOURCES

My parents naturally displayed the importance of being resourceful before resources when I grew up on the farm in New Zealand. Be more effective with what you have before you get anything else. My parents had to work extremely hard to weather the highs and lows of building a farming business from scratch and it was a great lesson to see first hand.

When catastrophic bushfires, poor water quality and COVID-19 restrictions caused event cancellations from January through to March, my natural instinct was to look at what we had with Triathlon ACT and use what we had available and conserve our financial resources. Losing half of our season was challenging enough on our financial reserves, but the prospect of losing the next 1-2 seasons was cause for deep concern. We had experienced financial uncertainty in 2014-15 and the measures we put in place then, ensure that our low risk, but agile model could cope with the toughest challenges sport could face. We looked at what human resources we had available and used our skills and talents to keep our members engaged, active and optimistic for the future. In fact rather than losing resources we had increased our financial reserves by 32% by the time I resigned in September 2020.

Within 2 weeks of restrictions being implemented by governments around the world, Ben Gathercole , James Thorp , Debbie Dionysius, my wife Julie and I knew that sport coaching was going to be one of the most heavily affected professions. We called on a few friends and some new ones to create the world’s 1st online endurance coaching business summit, called COACH 2020 VISION. With 12 weeks preparation we delivered an 8hr event of 20 speakers 20min each on areas such as; own your own coach brand, become a high performing coach, your coach business essentials and future of coach businesses. Among the 20 speakers were 13 people who were either an Olympian, World Champion, or had coached or worked with at least one.

Producing online content was something I was used to, so it made sense to produce 40 videos in 40 days that focused on different ways to lead during uncertainty and crisis. Using the content I was also able to support initiatives with ASCTA (Australian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association), Canberra Business Chamber, Mass Participation World and the Institute of Civil Infrastructure.

#2 COLLABORATION WINS

As a very determined individual I was always keen to develop my own ideas, lead my own company and create new projects. I remember a couple of friends always saying that you will produce you best work and have more success when you learn to collaborate and partner with other people. Over the past couple of years I started to realize this potential and in 2020, I gained the confidence to bring collaboration to the forefront of everything that I was doing.

One of my active CEO Coaching clients Sasa Sestic is an incredibly talented individual representing Australia in Handball at the 2000 Olympics, winning the 2015 World Barista Championships, leading the most high performing team I have ever seen inside a company, and manage to open a new specialty coffee café in Melbourne during lockdown. As I worked closely to support him during huge uncertainty, as a business owner in hospitality, we partnered up to co-host The Coffee Man Podcast, where we blend a world in coffee with a world beyond coffee. The first four episodes are some of the most rewarding interviews I have ever done as Sasa gave us an insight into how he successfully rode the rollercoaster of emotions in 2020.

If I wasn’t busy enough as CEO of Triathlon ACT, running my own business NRG2Perform and setting up World Sport Coach in April, a friend of mine, Sam Cawthorn, reached out in April to see if I could help him with the corporate section of Speakers Institute, in May. I was working 80 + hours a week at this point, but I knew there was something special that we could do, so offered 1-2hours per week until July and then we could regroup. Within 3 weeks we had locked in two Fortune 100 companies, IBM and EY global as clients. It all felt so natural and we could see that each other’s strengths were complimenting each other effortlessly. At the beginning of July we commenced discussions about creating a new company Speakers Institute Corporate and going into business partnership. On October 1st 2020 we launched the new company and now have more than 30 people, from four different countries working for us. The growth has been quite staggering and going into 2021 we are developing a team that speaks Portuguese to work in Latin America and we continue to expand our client base.

Its important to me to give back and serve the communities that have supported me so well. As Vice-Chair of Speakers Tribe Global, I didn’t hesitate when I was asked to contribute a chapter to a co-authored book Make A Difference. The book became an Amazon #1 Best Selling Book. Asootosh Kkant and the team at Speakers Tribe India have produced three Amazon #1 best selling books in 2020, helping 62 people become best selling authors for the first time. They did it all without pay and all proceeds going to charities around the world. They are in the middle of producing two more books with the target of having more than 100 Speakers Tribe members reach Amazon Best Selling Author status.

#3 SERVE OTHERS FIRST

My mum is like Mother Theresa to me. She has always served as a Nurse and been a huge contributor to non-for-profit community groups. She has always put everyone else’s interests first and I love my mum for that. Like Simon Sinek says, Leaders Eat Last, my mum serves other people first.

I put my own book Break The CEO Code on hold during 2020 to serve and support others who needed a helping hand. As someone who has always been a natural coach and thrives in environments where I am teaching and mentoring people, I spent a lot of time in 2020 on phone calls and zoom meetings checking in to see if people were ok and to help them find clarity, when their vision was blurred. It is extremely rewarding when you see people find their space, confidence and thrive rather than survive when the going gets tough.

I was initially due to finish working at Triathlon ACT in April, but for me, I knew it was important to ensure that the organization could sustain the next 2-3 years of restrictions and uncertainty before I finally finished in September. I sleep well at night, know that the sport is in safe hands.

I love facilitating and have had an amazing opportunity to facilitate and coach with Speakers Institute both online and on stage in 2020. During one of the programs in September I met Erwin Diaz from Qantas. He was speaking about Rage and Resolution. When he shared the challenges that he was facing along with 30,000 employees at Qantas Airlines, I felt it was my duty to support an industry that had supported me and my industries as an athlete and speaker for many years. Conversation with Sam Cawthorn led to offered our services being offered to support Qantas with 2 keynote speeches for all staff. What transpired was shutting down an airport and a museum, moving a Qantas airplane and arranging Sam to do the keynote in front of a Boeing 747-400.

#4 Be The Calming Influence

The feedback I receive from the people I work with, guests I interview on the active CEO Podcast and people I coach is that I make them feel comfortable and relaxed through my calming influence. I have had some great mentors in my life, but this trait definitely comes from my late Granddad Richards. Through your body language, tone and presence with people, you can make a profound shift in the emotions people feel.

Before we initiated the COACH 2020 VISION summit I commenced an 8-week free online webinar series called Endurance Coach Connect, providing a place for sport coaches around the world to stay connected, support each other and learn. The coaches opened up with me and shared their vulnerabilities. They felt comfortable in my presence to let go of the tension created by an uncertain world and a life they have always known.

For some reason, I knew it was important to reach out to people who were relatively quiet, when COVID hit, to ask the simple question, are you ok? For me I felt calm, comfortable and in my element when COVID hit, but many people where in a state of overwhelm, stress and bewilderment. Reaching out and saying hi was enough to help people find some clarity and focus their attention on things they could control.

Since I was 12 years old I have had opportunities to coach people in a sporting, business and other areas of life. I have always been good with problem solving, puzzles and seeing patterns when other people see a mess. What I have enjoyed most is through strategic questioning and providing belief, I have been able to help a number of people find clarity in 2020. Whether they are an Olympic coach, world Barista Champion, successful businessperson, sort after sports physio, super mum or CEO, I know my job as a High Performance Leadership Expert is to help talent become world class at what they do. My calming influence creates a safe psychological space where people can be vulnerable, allowing them to explore what they are 100% passionate about and really want in life.

#5 SIMPLIFICATION IS SOPHISTICATION

Every year I watch people set New Years Resolutions, which many are in fact every day resolutions, and fail to fulfill them. My business partner, Sam and his wife Kate Cawthorn introduced me to “what is your word for the year?”. By focusing on one thing, it is much easier to stay connected to it and ensure that you make a positive behavioral change.

My word for 2020 was FOCUS. I have had a photo of an eye on my phone, which reminded me every day to focus my energy. What we know in the world is that we don’t have an ideas problem, we have a focus problem. What is the one intention of where you will focus your attention? Some people may look at my year and say where was your focus with so much happening? For me it’s absolutely clear, as I narrowed my focus to high performance leadership and ensuring every decision I made was based on whether it was high performance leadership or not. The interesting thing is that when you find clarity and focus on your vision, you begin to say NO rather than YES. It is what I was extremely good at as an athlete and I now have it embedded in my life purpose. My word for 2021 – PARTNERSHIPS – As you may have already seen, I got a head start on this one in 2020.

The easiest thing in the world to do is make something complex, the hardest thing in the world is to simplify something. Being selected to speak on the TENx stage in February gave me 150 hours of dedicated and specific focus on simplifying Break The CEO Code. When you can make something simple in life it removes the barriers from the consumers mind and therefore they understand it. The simpler something is, the more sophisticated it becomes in their minds. Simplification is Sophistication. This will be my next book and is a key focus of what I do in High Performance Leadership.

Having a supportive wife, best friend for life and calming influence in Julie, is what makes this all happen.

What are the top 5 lessons you learnt in 2020 that you can take forward into 2021 and beyond?

READ MORE ARTICLES

It’s All About Trust Link
Have We Got The Hiring Process Totally Wrong? Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link
It’s Your Story Link
Be A Rookie Link

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Trust Craig Johns It Is All About Trust

It Is All About Trust

An article in the New Zealand Herald (Donaldson, 2018) brought up a great discussion between ‘Command and Control’ versus ‘Self-Determination Theory’ in sport. It raised some great questions that relate to both the business world as well as the coach-athlete relationship. Has the traditional ‘hierarchical’ systems, which lead to command and control, become outdated or is there still a place for this type of leadership behaviour?

Let’s take a look at what the central currency to any community or relationship is. Trust is essential to any relationship and is, according to Mayer et al., made up of three key elements: ability; benevolence; integrity.

Ability is built on the skills, competencies and characteristics that enable a person to perform tasks in a specific domain. As a relationship is building those involved will be ascertaining whether the other party can do what they say, have a track record of performance in that particular area and is their any evidence supporting their claim to competency. It is usually situation specific as we cannot be highly skilled in everything we do.

Benevolence is based on the foundation of how much do they actually care about the relationship versus aspects such as money, power or self-fulfilment. Early in the relationship you are trying to understand each others situation, how much do you want to help each other and are the actions being taken beneficial for each other.

Integrity refers to our acceptance of a set of principles and whether they are being adhered to. Are the actions taken from and adhered to against a set of principles? We want to know whether they will guide or motivate our performance, are we accepting of each others performance principles, and do both sets of principles align or can they coexist.

I would also add a fourth dimension to trust, and that is enjoyment. Enjoyment is the number one retention factor for any type of community or relationship. It helps to love what you are doing and have fun why you are doing it. If the environment is enjoyable, then you are more likely to stay connected.

Command and control is based on an aggressive, micro-managing and dictatorial approach, which sometimes maybe referred to as ‘it is my way or the highway’ approach. It is a common approach that leaders fall into when the pressure for success in business or sport is enormous and a win-at-all-costs mentality is allowed to fester. In certain circumstances this mentality may result in bullying behaviours and a ‘culture of fear’, which are not appropriate our society.

We are seeing the command and control hierarchial approach being replaced in the work place and on the sports fields over time, but there are still many instances of this type of behaviour occurring in society. As people’s awareness, rights, confidence in ability to speak up and community acceptance that you should bring issues to the forefront, acts of bullying are being raised and stamped out. However it is still prevalent in politics, sport and the workplace.

Over the past two decades or so, we have started to see leaders evolve their approach as they understand that their are more effective ways to reach higher levels of performance and productivity. The Self-Determination Theory provides a great platform to understand how we can perform at our best and bring out the best in the people we work with.

Self-Determination Theory is built on 3 core elements; autonomy; relatedness; and competence.

Autonomy is feeling you have a choice, that what you’re doing is of your own volition. Relatedness is to care for and be cared about by others, to feel you are contributing to something greater than yourself, to have your values align with the goals of the team or programme. Competence is about skill levels but athletes also need to feel they are learning and growing, not just reaching a set level.” (Donaldson, 2018)

If we are building a high performance environment, we need to allow our people to feel valued, be able to speak, have a sense of purpose and be true to themselves. We need to provide an environment where people feel highly motivated, feel like they belong and are happy, which the components of the Self-Determination Theory provides.

To build a feeling of autonomy in our people and ensure they are highly motivated and engaged, it is important that we reduce and refrain from approaches that involve dictating, incentivizing and applying heigh levels of pressure. We need to trust the abilities of our people and work on alleviating the fear inside our heads that we won’t achieve the desired results.

One of the most powerful skills a leader can possess is listening. To bring out the best in people, they need to have a voice and be involved in a collaborative way. That doesn’t mean as leaders that we can’t make the tough decisions, it eludes to ensuring that the feelings, values and thoughts of our people are taken into consideration to ensure they are closely aligned to the goals.

HOW MUCH TRUST DO YOU HAVE WITH YOUR PEOPLE?

RESOURCES

Donaldson. M. (2018). New Zealand Sport Model ‘Outdated’. New Zealand Herald, 24 June 2018. link

Roger C. Mayer, James H Davis, and F. David Schoorman (1995). An Integrative Model of Organizational Trust. The Academy of Management Review, 20 (3), July 1995, 709-734.

What Does It Take To Improve Your Culture

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO IMPROVE YOUR CULTURE?

What Does It Take To Improve Your Culture

Culture

The culture of a company, organisation or team is the make or break between growth and decline, retention and turnover, and success and failure. Too often we hear comments such as “toxic culture”, “team unrest”, “trouble in the boardroom” and “disorder in the trenches” that disrupt team cohesion, productivity and performance. If you are facing a storm in a teacup, what steps can you take to re-right the ship and ensure that your culture breeds success?

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

PETER DRUCKER

WHAT IS CULTURE?

First of all, let’s take a look at what culture is. Culture is our:

  1. Shared behaviours and the way we treat each other;
  2. Voices and our actions;
  3. Products and services;
  4. Capacity to learn and transmit knowledge to succeeding generations;
  5. Customers and consumers;
  6. Way of acting and interacting with others;
  7. Combined way of life;
  8. Attitudes, beliefs and philosophies; and
  9. Community and ourselves.

What we do as a leader is ultimately more important than what we say when it comes to culture. In essence, culture is the personality and DNA of the company, organisation or team.

There are, in general, four types of organisational or team culture:

  1. We do things 1st – Our focus is making breakthroughs and creating the future through adhocracy.
  2. We do things fast – We love to compete and want to be the fastest to go to market with a short-term performance focus.
  3. We do things right – Our culture is to make incremental checks, do our homework and control the process through a hierarchical approach.
  4. We do things together – We collaborate and are focused on long-term development in a tribe type environment

“The most important thing about culture is that it is the only sustainable difference for any organisation. Anyone can copy a company’s strategy, but nobody can copy their culture.”

TORBEN RICK

THE CHANGE PROCESS

It is important to understand your current culture and what it will look like in the future is the first part of the process to support successful change. Once you understand what the future looks like, from a culture point-of-view, you then need to utilise your collaboration skills to engage your team to commence the implementation phase and begin establishing the cultural behaviours. Finally, you need to coach and mange your team so that it is embedded in the way things are done in your organisation or team.

UNDERSTAND what you want to look like and establish the expectations that are required to get there:

  1. Complete a cultural audit by evaluating your current culture and performance.
  2. Clearly define your initial vision
  3. Develop a new set of expectations by clarifying your values and behaviours

COLLABORATE through teamwork and align your team so a common vision can be achieved.

  1. Identify and clearly articulate your strategic priorities
  2. Bring your team together and engage them in developing and defining your team goals
  3. Focus on your results and build accountability through clarifying and tracking key measures

COACH and manage your team to ensure that culture is cohesively developed and ingrained.

  1. Build a management system that incorporates the cultural drivers, priorities and goals
  2. Guide, manage and communicate your new habits and routines
  3. Celebrate the small wins and build team motivation throughout the process

“A culture of discipline is a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.”

JIM COLLINS

REQUIREMENTS FOR CHANGE

Changing an organisational or team culture is one of the biggest challenges a leader will face. This is due to a culture comprising an interlocking set of attitudes, processes, roles, goals, values, attitudes, communication and assumptions. It is unique for every organisation and team, and therefore every change requires a unique approach. A leader will need to be prepared to disrupt the organisation or teams deepest values, beliefs and what it holds closest to its heart.

Culture is deeply embedded into every layer of an organisation and requires the leader to question everything to fully understand what aspects are absolutely crucial to extract or mould for a better future. It is constantly evolving over time, although the culture is deeply linked to its history and development.

Important elements to consider when preparing for change:

  1. LISTEN to employees, by giving them a voice
  2. COMMUNICATE through 2-way communication and feedback channels
  3. LEAD by example by seeking, speaking and acting with truth
  4. FEEDBACK on a regular basis to and from employees
  5. COLLABORATE openly rather than in isolation, through encouraging sharing and healthy debates
  6. TRANSPARENCY by leveraging tools to stay on the same page
  7. APPRECIATION with a sustainable reward and recognition program
  8. CHALLENGE and encourage employees to take risks
  9. TEAM approach by creating a supportive environment that cultivates strong co-worker relationships
  10. CARE by showing that people matter
  11. ENJOYMENT in a light-hearted and fun environment
  12. PURPOSE with passion
  13. COMMON language, values and standards
  14. PERSISTANCE and consistency in your approach
  15. FLEXIBILITY by adapting and evolving throughout the process
  16. WORK-LIFE integration and/or balance
  17. EMPOWER employees by providing a sense of freedom and ownership, as well as embracing and inspiring employee autonomy
  18. BOUNDARIES that have clearly defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities
  19. LEARNING environment through continuous training and development
  20. RECOGNISE and solve, both individual and organisation,  problems  and issues

CASE STUDY: A few real life examples of how I have implemented some of the requirements for change:

LISTEN – We implemented a “pebble in my shoe” segment during our monthly team meeting, which allowed people to openly express things that were living rent-free in their mind.

COLLABORATE – In one organization, we established a 3hour period on Wednesday afternoons for employees to work on creative team projects that were focussed on innovation .

APPRECIATION – Working in hospitality, we had a company-wide manager meeting just before lunch every day, where we recognised at least one employee or team achievement.

ENJOYMENT – Every month we had a staff party, which had a different theme, where each team worked together to create a skit, performance or show.

CARE – At a recent coaching course, the attending coaches wrote a handwritten thank you card that was individualized for every presenter.

PURPOSE – To bring out the passion from our employees we changed our values to philosophies and asked the employees to develop the meaning of each philosophy.

WORK-LIFE – I find I am most effective when I exercise before starting work and then go for a ride or run during lunch time as it provides clarity and reflection to the projects I am working on.  I have encouraged staff to do the same.

The cultural change process will test your full range of leadership skills. You cannot afford to take your attention away from the change process as a drop in momentum can have a negative effect on the cultural change. If you aren’t in the driver’s seat, you have no control over the final destination.

Tune in to next week’s article, which will discuss the leadership attributes of successful change, what a positive workplace looks like and developing a High Performance culture.

“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organisation is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.”

FRANCES HESSELBEIN

READ MORE ARTICLES

Are Leaders Born? Link
It’s Your Story Link
Be A Rookie Link
Art Of Communication – Change Series Part 4 Link
Achieving Successful Change – Changes Series Part 3 Link
Change Tantrums – Change Series Part 2 Link
Why Change? – Change Series Part 1 Link
I Make No Apologies This Is Me! Link

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