It’s a given that people rarely follow advice, even when it’s good for them! We see examples everywhere – we are told by doctors to stop smoking, limit drinking, lose weight or make lifestyle changes. However even when faced with an immediate threat, we rarely change our behaviours.This is because we are creatures of habit who crave constant familiarity in life. These habits are coded to keep us safe, meaning we rarely get uncomfortable enough to grow. This is the reason there are so few leaders in life, because to be a great leader you must continually get yourself into uncomfortable situations where you are forced to grow mentally. We also possess strands of DNA passed on from our ancestors that do and do not serve us. This DNA has its tentacles firmly routed into our system, and forms part of what we are today.For example, I was recently forced to terminate one of my clients, as they were simply not prepared to do the work necessary to improve their situation. They had a degree of pain; they knew the course that needed to be taken; they clearly understood the why and the how; but they simply couldn’t take that necessary leap. They wanted me the coach to do the hard yards, not themselves. After six meetings I had to remove myself. My client wanted to be number one in their industry, and they were on the way up. However as the pressure mounted, the climb became far too great and it was a one step forward three steps back situation. I can’t do the hard yards for others. How can you solve someone’s problems when they are the problem and they don’t want to change?

The client must design his or her own path. As a coach, I simply shine a brighter light on the path to which they must walk.The three key fundamentals to making leaders are:

  1. Adversity in life
  2. Continual daily / weekly laser leadership training
  3. Experience on the job, with supported accountability

When I ask my clients what they think leadership is, the same answers always come back. Most will provide accurate examples of attributes a leader should and shouldn’t possess. They know what it takes to be a leader, and they readily want to change their behaviours to advance themselves. They just haven’t.

In my experience there are four key reasons why the majority of leadership programs are ineffective:

  1. The training focuses on the individual, not the organisation and the individual.
  2. They are only made available for c-suite or middle management.
  3. New individual and group leadership habits are not measured and made accountable on a daily basis.
  4. Most leadership training is just theory based ‘knowledge dumping’, and not lived through, especially in a world where our minds are already overwhelmed.

Leadership theory based ‘knowledge dumping’ such as personality profiling, 360-degree assessments, 1, 2, or 3-day or monthly workshops and meditation are just a few common methods used to promote leadership and improve engagement in the workplace. They all have their place in the training game, but to gain maximum traction, there is a new, faster and more effective method. It’s called ‘leadership living’ and all levels of the organisation participate together in the workplace. It is an all action methodology, which means team members will live, breathe and grow together as a united force. It breeds true engagement, uncovers more leaders and flows on via a waterfall effect to build a powerful and united culture.

Mainstream leadership and management training courses can be great in their delivery, and they do serve a purpose. Usually the chosen leaders who are seen to have potential are given the opportunity to attend an external course. While these courses can be extremely inspiring when you’re there, it’s like taking a dirty fish from a dirty pond, cleaning it down with new teachings and returning it to the dirty pond. The goal of course, is for the newly cleaned fish to come back and clean the dirty pond. However a few days after a clean fish returns to a dirty pond it inevitably loses momentum and becomes dirty once again – the pond is far too big and too dirty for one fish to clean on its own, or with the small group that also participated in the cleansing.

How to Quickly Improve Your Team’s Leadership Skills Today

This activity is designed for groups of up to 12. This may be a leadership group, or team members who want to become better leaders or emerging leaders. This is one segment out of 12 which we bring into the organisation that creates a massive cultural shift when done well.

Gather your group and discuss how they believe others perceive them outside of the team (this may be the general public, your competitors, and others within the organisation).

On sticky notes, have each team member individually note their concerns, and how they think the team and the organisation can be improved going forward.

Go through each note publicly (sticking them on a white board or a wall) and circle the top two or three issues. These should be addressed first.

Some examples of the issues that are commonly raised are:

  • Lack of communication.
  • Inconsistency when it comes to behaviours.
  • The environment is negative or not enjoyable.
  • We don’t share enough information with each other.
  • It’s an us against them mentality.

Once the top issues are agreed upon as a team, the group should then agree on an area of focus to improve upon each week. Ask each leader what they want to do, personally, to fix these issues.

At the end of the meeting each leader will be held accountable for:

  • 1 x Weekly Group Leadership Act
  • 1 x Weekly Individual Leadership Act

The agreed focus point must be tangible and actionable. For example, if the area of focus for the week is ‘lack of communication’, a weekly group leadership act could be each leader taking the time to learn one interesting thing about someone in the group that they didn’t already know. The leaders must then report back to the group and share these new and interesting facts with the broader group at the weekly meeting. The team should repeat this each week until everyone has a greater understanding of who their fellow team members are.

An individual leadership act could be improving on time management, completing certain work flow deadlines or taking ownership of a social work event. At each meeting the leaders will all be required to again report back to the group on how they went with their key deliverables.

The main reason we get the leaders to focus on these tangible leadership acts is to create new and sustainable resources and habits – both individually and collectively. Once new habits are ingrained, then the group changes the weekly challenge.

We also keep statistics on who is delivering and how often. These weekly stats should be presented to the group regularly (I recommend every 4 weeks). This promotes accountability.

Having analysed data specific to sports teams initially, we also now know that when the group successfully achieves these weekly key deliverables, they win the game 90% of the time.This again demonstrates that the best teams have a wealth of active leaders. The results are even bigger in the business sector.

Please note – This is an extract from the book “The Minds of Winning Teams – Creating Team Success through Engagement & Culture” authored by Richard Maloney. 

Richard Maloney is quickly becoming known as the world no. 1 team engagement expert as he leads over 100 coaches in 60+ countries. He is fascinated by the impact of human behaviour in both the business and sport. With extensive experience in these industries, his view is radically different and he is disrupting the L&D and HR and sports psychology industries with his bold statement: Traditional training is dead. Richard has used his strategy from the sports arena to work and transform athletes and business leaders around the world. He has been focusing on helping businesses improve mental wellbeing, culture, engagement and leadership and has recently been recognised as a as a finalist in the Australian Optus Business Awards as Business Leader of the Year and Export Business of the Year. Richard is also the author of ‘The Minds of Winning Teams – Creating Team Success Through Engagement & Culture’