Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Why Meditation can lead to good Leadership

There are many types of meditation available for us to explore and in fact the practice of Meditation is many thousands of years old. It has progressed its way through a variety of cultures, religions and philosophies. Essentially it has little to do with religion but more to do with the development of a sense of spirituality and self awareness.
We can begin the process for ourselves very easily by accepting the need and the advantages of reflection. Reflection is a practice which we can develop on a regular basis. I always advise clients to use this practice as a key component in leadership development. Mostly and tragically we seem to be too busy to spend the time each day with ourselves and to review the day's activities. It is not a complicated process but it is one in which we need to be relaxed, be on our own and to be enjoying our surroundings-we should be in a place of tranquility. Driving our car from the office to our home is NOT such a place. A park, a beach or just a quiet place in our home or garden is usually very suitable.
In the process of reflection we can look back at the key activities of our day. We should approach these activities with humility and certainly without judgement. We can calmly reflect on what we have learnt about ourselves and about others in the course of this reflection-remembering it is not about judgement and not about our ego. We should practice the art of being impartial.
The more we practice reflection in this kind of environment then the more we will develop a healthy perspective of ourselves. We can learn much about our nature and our approach to life. From this we will see how we can develop our wisdom and in so doing we are then on the path to great leadership of both ourselves and ultimately of others. When this is done with no self-interest then the results can be profound.
I am sure that we all have much to learn from our reflections and in particular from those reflections on what we call our mistakes. If we only could see the value in learning from these mistakes via reflection rather than by denying them then we would live in a much better World.
In our next blog I will detail the steps and the processes to achieve this but largely it should be up to each one of us to determine our way forward in the development of this art and practice.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Legacy of Australian Political Leadership

Julia Gillard was Minister for Education in Australia from 3rd December 2007 to 28th June 2010. The highlight of her Ministry was the creation and the overseeing of the "Building the Education Revolution" (BER). This was a $16.2 Billion Program.The program attracted much criticism for alleged misappropriation of public funds and for not delivering value-for-money outcomes. Many instances of inflated quotes or new buildings that were not particularly useful to schools were reported. The Leader of the Opposition called for a judicial inquiry into this Program and the failed Home Insulation Program-they were described as "failed programs" and a "waste of public money". Ultimately it was proven that BER projects in NSW, QLD and VIC overpaid for buildings by more than 25% on average compared to Catholic schools and more than 55% compared to Independent schools. The wastage on this program was estimated at around $1.5Billion.

Although Gillard denied her leadership aspirations it was not long after this that she sought to depose Kevin Rudd. This began the background to the legacy of a new wave of political leadership. What followed has been a series of lies, deception, conflict and corruption. It began with the Rudd lie, the carbon tax, the economic surplus promise and the allegations surrounding her years as a labor lawyer.

Whilst Kevin Rudd lacked leadership and effectiveness skills Julia Gillard has taken poor leadership too even lower depths.

Her legacy tells us that it is appropriate and acceptable to lie and deceive and to use every opportunity to discredit others around you. It is generally accepted that she has been the most disliked and untrusted Prime Minister in the history of Australia.

Integrity is one of the hallmarks of good leadership. Integrity and honesty is the basis upon which to build trust and confidence. The example given to the youth and people of this Country portrays only deception, lies, corruption and dishonesty and this is all packaged up as being "acceptable".
What has been demonstrated over recent years has been the lack of any Noble Leadership qualities from either Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard. It is obvious in the way that they present there is a lack of sincerity and authenticity which are key elements in the ability to positively influence those around them. Kevin Rudd had the worst staff turnover probably in the history of politics and Julia Gillard has achieved the worst ratings of any Prime Minister in the history of Australia. These outcomes clearly indicate the lack of sincerity, authenticity and any ability to positively inspire those around them. The legacy of such people is detrimental to the moral and spiritual health of Australia.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Mind of Noble Leadership-Expectations and Outcomes

The Book about Noble Leadership

Several years ago I decided to write a book about the concept and philosophy of Noble Leadership. Writing a book is similar to many of the activities that we begin in life and tragically like most of them they can remain unfinished.
I persisted with the book and it is true to say that I had many friends and colleagues who were applying some degree of pressure on me to write and then finish this book. After 2 years I had it almost finished. It was a large book and one very much aligned with the full Noble Leader Program. It had taken a long time and I did not feel truly connected with it. It was complex and analytical and I was doing it with other objectives. One such objective was for my Doctorate in Philosophy.
Some good friends in Malaysia started to read my draft and their immediate feedback was most critical and I guess they were disappointed both in the book and maybe also in me. In short they did not like the way the book had been written and presented.
I went away disillusioned. After a few days I recovered enough to see that what they were offering was in fact very constructive. One of the key elements of the Noble Leader philosophy is "simplicity" and in this book I had failed miserably. It was anything but simple.
I sat down and wrote the book again but this time in the most simplistic way that I could imagine. The book was finished in less than 3 weeks. I showed this book then to some other friends in Melbourne who were amazed at it. They were amazed at it's size. They said -"this is okay but where is the rest of it?" They were expecting much more.
So this situation leads me now to the subject. Everything in life is shaped by expectations. In this instance we had my expectations of myself, the perceived Malaysian expectation of the book and myself, the Australian expectation of the book and myself. There were so many expectations and along the way I was attempting to meet many expectations, least of all my own. Added to this of course were the expectations of a distraught publisher.
We live in a World of expectations. We create them and we are affected by our perceived expectations of others. This is a complex environment for us to operate within. Expectations and outcomes and the fact that all too often they do not match.
The same can be applied within the Workplace. Everyone has expectations and most are unfulfilled. We have to learn to manage our own expectations and our reactions to the expectations of others. We need to be realistic and to learn to overcome self doubt and our desire to meet the expectations of others. Our expectations about others is only our self perception and in many cases we can be so wrong.
There are a number of ways in which we can assess this situation. One such way is to strive to ensure that our expectations of others will be no greater than the expectations that we have of ourselves. What does this tell us about our own expectations regarding ourselves? We need to ensure that we have realistic and achievable self expectations. If we do not have this then we will be very unfulfilled. We will be struggling to live a life with disappointment because we could not meet our own expectations.
Expect nothing from others that you would not expect from yourself.

Friday, 3 August 2012


These questions come from parts of the Noble Leader Program. The interesting thing about these 3 simple questions is how you answer them. If you are not sincere and truthful to yourself then you will not see the benefit of the questions and may continue to be disillusioned.

If you answer them with your Heart then the results and your decision will be obvious. If you answer them immediately with 3 positive “YES’s” then you should be grateful but if not then the choice and decision will rest with you.

My research finds very few people who can answer each question with a immediate positive response.

Question 1:

Are you proud of the work that you do?

Question 2:

Are you proud of your Boss?

Question 3:

Are you proud of your Company?

These are such simple questions but the impact of them is felt strongly in the workplace today with an increasing lack of engagement by people at all levels.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Beyond Employee Disengagement


It is clear that there is a lot of employee disengagement in the workplace today. This is not only in Australia but seems to be a global trend.

We think it is largely due to the unprecedented pressure placed on organisations and employees to improve performance and financial outcomes with less resources, less money and a declining sense of human value.

Towers Watson, 2010 Global Workforce Survey

reveals the following:
  • 69% of employees believe their senior managers do not communicate openly and honestly
  • 97% thought their managers did not treat them as key parts of the organisation and no fewer than 60% felt their senior managers treated them as just another organisational asset to be managed.
  •  61% of employees in the US feel senior management does not exhibit attitudes and behaviours that reflect they care about the well-being of their employees. (71% of employees for UK)
  • Only 47% think their leaders are trustworthy
  • Only 42% think their leaders inspire and engage them
  • 61% question whether their leaders deal effectively with poor performers
  • Only 42% think senior management encourages development of talent
Clearly there is a strong emphasis on Disengagement in the workplace, however this with other factors leads to a far worse problem-Moral Disengagement!~

Moral Disengagement occurs and has occurred in Australia at the highest levels throughout the political spectrum, religion, care of aged population and unemployment to name a few. Why do humans have the ability to rationalise moral disengagement and then to be able to manipulate their actions to suit their purpose. At this level Disengagement becomes Disintegration.

A typical example of this has occurred at the highest levels of Australian politics and it seems unfortunately to have become an acceptable practise: Quotes from our Prime Minister in 2010 and then only 6 months later shows the following level of Moral Disintegration.

"There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead."
-- Ms Gillard, August 16, 2010
"I'm determined to price carbon. History teaches us that the countries and the economies who prosper at times of historic change are those who get in and shape and manage the changes. The time is right and the time is now."
-- Ms Gillard announces her Government's plan for a carbon tax, February 24, 2011
This is not an isolated case of Moral Disengagement but it is one that shows the character not only of the person but also of what we see as rapidly becoming acceptable standards of morality. How can we allow our own complacency to become so disengaged that we now expect corruption and deceit within Government leadership-it is enough that we understand that it is within the corporate world but it now seems to becoming more obvious in the highest levels of politics. So shameful!!

As Employee Disengagement increases in the workplace we can expect increases in Moral Disengagement thus leading rapidly to Moral Social Disintegration.
Suffice to say what is happening around us is the infestation caused by the lack of Noble Virtues and Noble Intentions where self sacrifice has now been replaced by self interest and then acceptably justified.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


There are a number of aspects about training that do not seem to add up.

My personal view from many years of experience is that most training does not work. It does not work despite the fact that most training organisations can claim that their specific program will produce results. To be honest in some instances it does but only for the short term. Usually it is a waste of money. Let us look at the reasons why and we begin at the senior leadership of an organisation.

The Leader feels that there is something wrong within the workforce and determines that the staff need some kind of training -let us say it is in the area of improving customer relations and personal efficiency. The Leader then instructs the HR Manager to investigate and recommend a suitable program. The HR Manager then researches to find a suitable program at usually the best price and may even do some elements of confirming testimonials of the training provider and then makes the recommendation to the Leader.

At this stage we could have already developed the first problem which would be potentially a communication problem between the Leader and the HR Manager. HR people are usually not renowned for appropriate decision making. In fact in most organisations the HR Manager is not in a decisive or creative role however in this instance they have made a recommendation based on a level of judgement that may never have been truly tested. Usually they are not leaders, they may be good performers but only within a very restrictive capacity. However the decision is finally made by the Leader and so the training program begins.

The training provider is excellent and produces compelling reasons and methodology to improve customer relations and the personal efficiency of the staff. Results and outcomes of the training are very good and all staff receive a Certificate of Attendance. All is well. The trainer has done a good job, the HR Manager has fulfilled their obligation and we can assume that the Leader has received value for the investment.

However this is often not the case. Superficially all is well but the results are only very short term. Why is this?

The answer lies within the psychology of the individual staff member. People are driven by their habits-both good and bad. Essentially we have all spent many years developing routine ways of dealing with all kinds of situations. As an example take work place change. When confronted with change most people react in a very negative way. Fear of change sets in quickly. We do not like to have our habits and routines threatened.

So we can attend the most brilliant of training programs but the impact on our personal psychology will be limited. The reason why it is limited goes right back to the Leader instructing the HR Manager. People may recognise the need for skills and attitude improvement but this is important and discussion should begin with the Leader and directly to all the staff including the HR Manager.  By placing a HR Manager in the middle only results in a loss of trust by the staff in the Leadership. Considerations may even go to the level of lack of trust by the staff in the HR Manager and the way the reason for the training is communicated.

If it is so important then all communication should be from and with the Leader of the Organisation. If the Leader truly wants to engage all the Staff then they need to be seen as taking this proactive step of encouragement. Once the function has been moved down the line to the HR Manager the level of importance has also been moved down the line in the psychology of everyone involved.

Let us look at the two ends of the spectrum regarding the impact on staff. Assume that I am very effective in what I do and I have truly wonderful customer relationships and I receive the email or the instruction from the HR Manager telling me that I have to attend training to improve what I thought were my perfect skills. My initial reaction is going to be one of disbelief which may then turn into anger to think that I am being treated this way. Should I attend the Program you can be very sure that I will not be supportive and will not really listen - my skeptical attitude will ensure that money has been wasted on me. The other end of the spectrum happens if I know that I am not that good in my job-I feel embarrassed about my mistakes and my nervousness in dealing with our customers. I am always stressed about this and feel quite low in my self esteem. Then I am told that I have to attend this Program. My initial reaction is one of fear-I know that this Program is all about me because I have failed  and now they want me to become totally embarrassed in front of all my work colleagues. What am I to do? My first thought is that on that day I will be sick and unable to attend. Even if I do relent and attend the Program I will be so nervous, so anxious and so stressed that I will remember nothing. It will be the worst days of my life.

This is how it could very well be for many people in such a situation.
The real issue is not to just provide methodology as to how one can improve customer relationships and personal efficiency. There are many text books and videos on this subject and they all represent the "outside-in " approach. The trainer presents and the audience listen and may even be encouraged to participate. The training can last from 1 hour to 3 days but it will be useless unless the mind of the individual attendee is changed in a profound way. This change of mind could take place in the first hour but usually this does not happen-the staff members turn up, appear to be listening and even appear to be participating but in truth they are not. They are sleeping and they do not wish to change their behaviours and habits.

Unless the mind of person is ready to be opened to change then they will consciously and subconsciously fail to accept anything that is being offered. The same rationale applies to a habitual smoker-they know they should not do it-they know it is unhealthy-they know that it may kill them-but still they smoke.

If we want to truly get people to do something different then no amount of conventional "training" will work. It only works when their mind is ready and this only comes when they recognise and understand themselves better. This is where it begins.