In 2012, the University of Melbourne Centre for Ethical Studies produced a report entitled Resilience: Women’s Fit Functioning and Growth at Work: Indicators and Predictors. At the time it was published as part of the Gender Equality Project.
The report aimed to:
“analyse indicators that are typically considered when assessing gender diversity strategies and then analyse the personal and organisational factors that predict these different outcomes.” 
The report is detailed, comprehensive and made five recommendations for improving gender equality in organisations.
Of these five recommendations, there was one that resonated for me quite strongly. Recommendation number 4 read as follows:
“Target low-level sexism through a range of strategies, such as a “no just joking” policy.”
In the discussion of this recommendation , the paper highlights how low-level sexism through jokes makes women feel uncomfortable and that they do not belong or are not welcome. When challenged, perpetrators of this behaviour would respond by saying they were “just joking” as if this made their behaviour acceptable because it was just a bit of fun with no harm intended.
The problem is there is harm committed.
Firstly, this kind of behaviour creates a “stereotype threat” which increases the potential for bias (perceived or real, conscious or non-conscious) in those making the jokes.
Secondly, the study found, there are negative impacts on women’s health and retention. Retention is important because when women leave an organisation, they take away the unique skill sets they offer as individuals, and this impacts the capability of the organisation.
It would seem, on the surface, a straightforward idea to create a “no just joking policy”. The report recommends the simple act of an apology, when challenged, should be enough to resolve this behaviour at a low level before it escalates.
I will leave the final comment on this matter to the report writers:
“…the point needs to be made that the loss of one source of humour is not the death of humour. It merely indicates that it is time to learn a few new jokes.”
- Page 6
- Page 20
I am excited about this series of blog posts called Campbell Rambles. Someone close to me has commented about how she likes the way I ramble on when I am trying to get my thoughts straight around an idea. I’m sure many of you have done the same.
Well, I thought it time to put a ramble or two (or three) into print. These posts are not designed to be the solutions to all your problems, although there will be suggestions along the way. They are merely a collection of thoughts about a particular topic that I have been pondering. My hope is that something in these rambles will generate new thinking and new questions for you.
Disclaimer up front: They won’t be as well structured as other posts, and the grammar will be ‘less than ideal’ to quote a friend of mine. My aim will also be to keep them short so that they are easily digestible. This one will be a bit longer as I introduce the concept.
So, let’s begin.
I saw this quote the other day, and it resonated with me:
I’m sure it’s not a new quote for a lot of people but it was the first time I had seen it, and it’s been present in my thoughts for a few days now. It’s certainly changed my attitude as I go to the gym or for a walk along the beach at home. I am now curious as to what my body can achieve rather than focussing on just “getting fit” (Whatever that looks like).
I don’t know who was the original author of the quote. I’m not sure if they intended any additional meaning behind the message but, if there was some subliminal text it might look something like:
“Celebrate the life that you have. Enjoy it. Don’t beat yourself up for every little mistake.”
What do you think? Am I reading too much into it?
What if we were to apply the quote to our careers? It would then read:
“Your career should be a demonstration of what you can achieve, not something that you do because you have to.”
As I write this, I am aware that many people don’t feel in control of their careers:
- “My boss is a control freak. I don’t have any autonomy.”
- “I have a mortgage to pay. I just can’t go and work for myself.”
These are common objections I hear when I am talking to clients about taking control of their lives. These are the people for whom it’s about “going to work because they have to.” They don’t enjoy what they do, and they feel like slaves to the machine.
I say to my clients frequently that many things are simple but not necessarily easy. I also talk about “growing pains” – the discomfort that comes with change. If you want to “celebrate what you can achieve”, some growing pains are necessary.
There are no easy answers. Approaching the controlling boss takes courage. Quitting what you’re doing and doing what you love involves risk. That said there are some small steps to help you get started and build momentum:
- Engage the services of a coach or seek out a mentor to discuss what your current issues are. You don’t have to make any changes at this point, but another perspective can help;
- Do the sums on what you need to live. Ryan Holiday, author of “Ego is the Enemy” and “The Obstacle is the Way” says “If you don’t know how much you need, the default quickly becomes ‘more.'” When you know how much you need, you can make more informed decisions about what you can do;
- Get curious about what others in your situation have done. Perhaps there are some lessons you can learn from others you can apply;
- Think about where you want to be ten years from now. 20 years. What do you want people to be saying about you when you’re gone? What do you want your legacy to be? Then look at where you are now and figure out what the first small step is that you need to take. Remember, any small step in the right direction is a step in the right direction.
There is another quote that has just come to mind as I write this …
“Freedom is on the other side of fear.”
Get curious about what is holding you back and investigate that. You might find that there is a whole new world that opens up once you can put a name to your fear.
And then celebrate what you can do. If we want to find meaning in our lives, I think we have to get out of survival mode and reflect on what we are capable of achieving. Let’s stop punishing ourselves for the decisions we have made up to this point or the mistakes we might have made. Let’s change the mindset. Let’s show others (and ourselves) what we can do. Let’s start making decisions, that while difficult, may prove rewarding.
I’ve rambled long enough. What do you think?
I hope you enjoyed the first of these Campbell Rambles. At this stage, they won’t be a regular post. I will publish as something I feel important comes to mind. If you don’t want to miss out on them, then head to the Campbell Leadership Solutions web page and sign up as a member of the Campbell Leadership Clan.
As we begin the new working year I thought we’d kick it off with a brief summary of the leadership thoughts published by Campbell Leadership Solutions in 2016. If you continue on with these behaviours and tips that you started with last year, you’ll be sure to make an easy segway into 2017. If you want to revisit the concepts in full, just click on the link to go straight to the article, or feel welcome to contact us here at Campbell Leadership Solutions for more information.
From The “What I want you to do …” Series
It is so important to allow members of your team to make mistakes. You can create an environment where experimentation is encouraged and your team know that they are supported at all times. Providing this environment allows your team to learn from mistakes, removes the fear of having a go and builds trust between your team and you.
Progressing from building trust by creating a safe to fail environment, awareness of two key factors will help in building successful relationships with others. The first, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of various working styles can help constructively develop team dynamics. This will help you understand how others want to be treated, so you can then apply that knowledge. Secondly, how you see yourself is not necessarily the same as how others see you. Seek feedback and hear it without judgement, you’re sure to learn a few things about yourself!
Remember, leadership is not a position. It is a series of behaviours. Anybody in any role in any organisation can demonstrate leadership behaviours. If you are working toward something you believe in, you are a leader, whether your job description says so or not – you already have the ability to motivate others to follow, so believe in yourself and continue to refine your leadership skills.
This article provides a simple, four-step, problem-solving process to help you overcome those times when you have a block. It helps you identify what you already know (it’s usually more than you think), what questions you need to ask and how to build a plan to tackle the next steps of your project. It’s an easy way to continue to move forward and re-energise that challenging mindset we all get when we’re seemingly stuck with something.
Inspired by one of my clients, this article puts a different spin on the work/life balance discussion. Rather than aiming for more time at home and less time at work, what if you were to pay attention to where you are, right now? At any given moment, this technique would go a long way to improving the quality of your time rather than trying to change the quantity, which is something not always possible. Mindfulness is a great way to take control over what you can, rather than being frustrated at what you can’t.
Work with another client inspired this post as well. You may be surprised to know that I learn as much from you as you from me! Taking time to reflect on your achievements over the longer term can reduce the frustration we feel in ‘not getting anything done.’ In fact, revisiting this blog is helping me do this by allowing me to see what I have achieved during 2016.
Competitiveness with people in your own organisation is counterproductive. Rather than trying to “win”, or be “the best”, adopting a learning approach can reduce the pressure you place on yourself, help with achieving results and allow you to enjoy work more all while developing your skills.
This one is simple. Get out from behind your desk and go and talk to your people. Have an easy, informal conversation and find out what’s going on for them. You will learn things about them you didn’t already know and you will build relationships with them. Building relationships allows you to establish trust and influence, which in turn allows you to lead more effectively.
Asking the same questions will get you the same answers. Challenge yourself to ask different questions, ones you may not have asked before, or have been afraid of asking. Doing so will give you access to new information and provide opportunities for better decision making. If you really want to set yourself a leadership task, get through the day without asking the same question twice. This will allow you to really analyse your thinking and questioning techniques and help you find out what you really need to know.
This article proved to be one of the most popular. It provides ideas on how you could influence those in a position of authority when you may not be in that position yourself. There is a simple framework for getting your voice heard within your organisation, and is another great demonstration of how anybody in any position can lead effectively.
Dealing with workplace conflict is not something we necessarily enjoy doing but is an essential skill for leaders. Adopting a curious mindset can help. This is another way to challenge your thinking and questioning process and establish positive relationships through leadership.
We’ve all been told to ‘live your values’ but how exactly do we do that? The answer is simple. Find some small actions that you can do each day that accord with those values and communicate to people what you think is important. Values identification is an effective way to get people on board, chances are, there will be at least one value that is common to everyone in your workplace.
It’s easy to be frustrated by things that are outside of your control, and it can take a daily toll. Understanding what you can control and what you can only influence can go a long way towards reducing those frustrations. So if you can’t control it, let it go and find another way to manage, so you can put your energy and focus into something that will reap a positive outcome.
Are you having difficulty convincing others of your ideas in the workplace? Taking their perspective might just help you understand why. Understanding others can help you to be adaptive and flexible, which in turn, can help you to influence and lead. It’s important to be able to see a situation from a number of different perspectives and understand the impact a single decision can have on a range of people.
From the “Interlude” Series
This article describes the meaning behind the Campbell Leadership Solutions logo. The lighthouse is symbolic of guidance. My role as a teacher, coach and mentor can help you to develop your leadership ability and achieve results in the complex environment that you operate in. You are already the subject matter expert, but even the Australian Cricket Team has a coach. Who is yours?
I love coaching, mentoring and helping people provide quality leadership. This final article for 2016 describes a little of my own leadership journey and how I came to be where I am today. I believe in growth and I believe in change, and I am ready to support you through your own personal journey.
I believe 2016 was a great year, despite what social media might have us think. I see 2017 as a further opportunity to engage with clients, friends and followers to achieve even more goals in the leadership space. If you would like to receive early access to the new releases on leadership, mentoring, performance and other related topics then head to our website to join the Campbell Leadership Clan.
Please feel free to share any or all of these articles with your colleagues, friends or followers. There is, I believe, something in here that is useful for everyone.
Also, please continue to share your leadership experiences on the website or social media (links to various social sites are on the website). We all have great stories to share and can all learn from each other. We have a great opportunity to build a community of leadership learners.
If you would like assistance with your own leadership journey or would like to discuss any of the concepts detailed in these articles, please contact us at Campbell Leadership Solutions. We stand ready to assist you.
“…change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is — to be fully invested in his current positions.”
– Arnold Beisser, The Paradoxical Theory of Change
Do you believe that people can change? Actually, here’s a better (or perhaps just different) question; Do you believe that you can change?
Take a moment to think about it before you read on.
Growth or Fixed
Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential, talks about the fixed vs growth mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset believes they have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality and a certain set of character traits that are fixed and can’t be changed. For reasons she explains in her book, a fixed mindset can lead to “an urgency to prove yourself over and over.”
Then there is the growth mindset.
“[The] growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way —in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
I’m a firm believer in the growth mindset because I know I am a very different person to the one I was 15 years ago.
My Leadership Journey
Angry Young Man
In my blog about taking different perspectives, I alluded to the fact I used to be a far angrier person than I am today. In 2002, as a 31-year-old warfare officer in HMAS Newcastle, I was what you might call a tyrant. A perfectionist, controlling and highly competitive, I expected very high standards from my people. If they didn’t live up to those standards then I would belittle them in front of others. The mission was more important than my team’s feelings or development. Perhaps my one redeeming feature, when it came to my team, was that I was fiercely loyal. If they needed my support I would give it to them. When it came to their professional performance, however, I was excessively demanding and forgave little.
If you knew me as a child you would perhaps wonder where all this had come from. I was always considered a happy kid. Once, as a teenager, an elderly couple I was matched up with on the golf course one competition round commented on how relaxed a demeanour I had. You would think if frustration, perfectionism and aggression are going to manifest itself anywhere the golf course would be the place. But no.
So, what happened between the age of 18, when I joined the Royal Australian Navy, and the age of 31 when I find myself one of the senior ranking officers of a frigate in the Northern Arabian Gulf? Who knows. Discussions with mentors and trusted advisors since have pointed to the role of culture, maturity and development (and a need to prove myself). I don’t want to focus too much on that here but it might make an interesting topic for future discussion. My point in highlighting how I was then is to set the scene for what happened next.
And then this happened
One day, I was berating (loudly) a junior officer, in front of her team, for what was probably a minor mistake. I happened to be doing this just outside the Captain’s cabin. At one point, during my tirade, he came out of his cabin and asked to see me when I was done. I respectfully said, “Aye aye Sir” and completed my rant. When I entered his cabin afterwards I expected him to raise some issue of the ship’s operations with me but he simply said six words that have rung in my ears ever since:
“You can’t treat people like that.”
I know there was a short discussion afterwards about appropriate leadership, everyone having a job to do, and respect for others, but those six words are the words I remember. Whenever I relate this story to friends, colleagues and clients I always say, “He was the first person to tell me that the way I was leading was wrong.” In hindsight I know that statement was not true — many people probably told me that before — but he was the first person to cut through the noise and state it so simply.
I left that short conversation initially confused but with a burgeoning awareness that there was something I was missing and something I needed to do. Over the coming weeks and months, I started tracking down books on leadership and devouring any information I could find on the subject. Not long afterwards I was lucky enough to be shown how it should be done.
Oh, so that’s how it’s meant to be done
I left Newcastle and transferred ashore to a staff position working for two of nature’s gentlemen. While these two officers exhibited the same demand for high standards and professionalism, they did it in a much more respectful way. They coached, they gave me stretch assignments and they supported me in achieving those developmental goals they help me set. They exhibited a calm confidence that meant that when they spoke, people listened to them. Even very senior people. Thinking about it years down the track, they were, in my opinion, what Jim Collins in his book Good to Great calls Level 5 Leaders; People with a force of will to get the right things done but who do it with a sense of humility. It is never about them.
Putting it into practice
Over the next eight years I had the chance to put what I learned into practice. I had the opportunity to command the patrol boat HMAS Bendigo, lead training at Navy’s Officer Training College HMAS Creswell, spend time at staff college learning about leading in the operational and strategic environment, and then, finally before I retired, command of HMAS Newcastle, the ship where this story commenced.
During this period I would continue to read as much on leadership as I could. I approached mentors and asked them what they were doing, what they had done and what they had learned. I would put things into practice and I would get them wrong. Yes, wrong. Of course I made mistakes. In fact, I made some very significant leadership blunders. The important thing was I didn’t see this as a blight on my character. I saw them as lessons that I could learn from. I continued to grow as a leader. By the time I handed over command of Newcastle in 2012, I was a very different person to the one that I was 11 years previous.
Learning to coach
One day, I happened to tell this story to the officer responsible for establishing the Navy’s Leadership Coaching Program. For those non-Navy readers out there, you may be surprised to learn that the Royal Australian Navy has it’s own internal leadership program designed to support Navy’s leaders in their own leadership development. (This is something I would very much have liked access to as 15 years ago. Sadly, at the time, it didn’t exist.) After relating the story to him he asked me if I had ever considered being a coach. His view, one I now support, is that people who can exhibit such change and develop the self-awareness to realise their own growth path make good coaches. He pointed me towards the first step, I took it and now I have the best job I could have following my lengthy naval career:
“I support leaders to develop self-awareness and generate confidence to lead better.”
So, why do I do what I do?
I am a firm believer in the growth mindset. I believe that people can change if they adopt a willingness to learn and a positive attitude towards change. Not everyone knows how to. Some people have blind spots like I did. They need to have the right push and the right guidance to help them change. As a coach and mentor, I get to do that for people. I get to see the results as they develop their own leadership and see the positive impact their development has on others.
It’s not a one-way street either. I learn just as much from my clients as they do during our interactions. The same can happen for you as you interact with your people if you adopt a mindset of learning and growth.
If you’ve made it this far through the story, thank you for reading. I hope what I have written stimulates you to think a little about your own leadership journey, how you have changed over the years and what you have learned. I would welcome any comments you might have, any experiences you would like to share, any questions you might like to ask. Just leave them in the comments section below or contact me directly.
If you would like any assistance with any aspect of your leadership then Campbell Leadership Solutions would be willing to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
Thank you for reading and leading.