Now here’s an intriguing little activity from the good old Harvard Business Review in an article by by Susan David and Christina Congleton. Probably not very scientific, but a good rough indicator you might find useful to get you thinking about how emotionally agile you are.
The more we know about ourselves and the way we function, especially under stress or duress, the better we can actively manage our behaviour. We all have some negative thoughts and reactions – the important thing is how we react when we feel them and what steps we take to challenge them.
I have never failed to be astonished at the ability of colleagues to take the most innocent of remarks to mean something completely different from what was intended and email is a major culprit here, in that you read the words but don’t hear the tone of voice. This isn’t a new phenomenon however. I’ve been clearing out some old papers and came across a quotation I’ve used in the past in communications training sessions:
“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant”
which is widely attributed to Robert McCloskey, a U.S. State Department spokesman at one of his regular noon briefings during the worst days of the Vietnam War.
On the next page was a quotation from E.M. Forster:
“How do I know what I think until I see what I say”
which certainly chimes with me (although in my case it’s more often a case of “see what I write in this blog”) and set me off wondering whether that’s common, and a short web serach turned up this delightful page (Warning – displacement activity alert!!):
which shows I’m in good company!
Yesterday I attended a JISC training day, Managing Successful Projects in the Education Sector, given by the excellent John Burke, who quoted a very sobering statistic.
JISC gives funding to all manner of projects, feasibility studies and so on, and he’s been involved in overseeing many over the years.
And the statistic?
Forty percent of JISC funded projects fail due to lack of senior management buy-in and influence.
Makes you think, doesn’t it? As a leader, your support for such projects really can make all the difference.
You can find JISC Infokits, including the Project Management one yesterday’s training drew upon, at the link below. In straightened times for HE, JISC is the place to look for excellent free resources.
This research reported by Jack Zenger in the Harvard Business Review reinforces what we all know deep down are the traits that separate the competent from the exceptional individual performer.
The leadership skills identified are as follows.
Exceptional individuals :
Set ‘stretch’ goals and adopt high standards for themselves
Volunteer to represent their group
Embrace change rather than resisting it
Take the initiative
Walk the talk
Use good judgement
Display personal resilience
Give honest feedback.
It’s not a long read: The Behaviors that Define A-Players – http://pulse.me/s/110phI
Most of you will be familiar with this construct, also known as the Urgent/Important matrix, used by Stephen Covey and a myriad other management gurus. This week I’ve had the privilege of facilitating parts of an HE management ‘Awayday’ and the matrix was useful in illustrating the importance for leaders of remaining as much as possible in the upper right hand quadrant – Q2 – which is where they make for themselves ‘headspace’ to work on strategy, develop people, strengthen systems, solve problems, set clear outcomes and develop themselves.
I’ve often used it both as a tool to manage my own tasks and priorities and as a way to help teams make informed choices about how they work, but I’ve rarely seen it so well illustrated as it is here, on Dr. Kristian Rother’s Academis blog, http://academis.sites.djangoeurope.com/blog/posts/prioritizing-covey-matrix/.
The icons really say it all!
“I know that you believe that you understood what you think I
said, but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not
what I meant.”
(attributed to Robert McCloskey, US State Department Spokesman, who died in 1996)
Confucius said: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest”.
I’ve been reading a number of books recently which make use of quotations to set context at the beginning of chapters and since I’m writing a time management course at the moment, the appearance of this quotation as I turned a page this morning seemed quite apposite.
It occurred to me that one could actually choose a quotation to set the context for each day.
What quotation would you use to set the context for, say, a particularly productive day?
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This article written by the two Pro Vice Chancellors responsible for the evacuation at Aberystwyth University gives an insight into the decision making process.