email: geoff@cultureofus.com

AFL Logo

Creating a coaching culture

As a keen Australian rules football (AFL) supporter, I loved this article mapping out coaching dynasty’s that exist in AFL football. The basic premise of the article suggests great coaches aren’t born, they are bred.

After reading this I thought about the challenge of building good coaching and leadership in organizations today. For the most part there is not the same public scrutiny and very visible performance data available on our companies leaders as there is with any major league sport, but there are definitely similar challenges. How do you reinforce the same themes and key messages week on week, and still keep your team engaged? How do you provide feedback, build confidence and the capability of your team? How do you make the right choices at the selection table?

Clearly there are some common themes and challenges for organization and sport. So what are the common attributes that separate a dynasty successful coach from a regular coach? Here’s three themes I believe are key:

Positive role models

Of all the key attributes behind a good coach, providing a positive role model is a prime factor in establishing a coaching dynasty. Approximately 90% of what we learn is through our experience and observation. It is then no coincidence that the writer of the AFL coaches article observed many of the top coaches in AFL had all been exposed to at least one of the great coaches that came before them. Through observation and indoctrination of successful coaching practices, they were able to learn their coaching craft and also become very successful coaches.

A winning culture

Successful coaches set up their teams for success by creating a winning culture, by reinforcing some very clear standards of behavior, which become part of the fabric of how a team behave. It is then by no means a coincidence that coaches whom are a part of and have experienced a successful coach learn the power of establishing a winning culture that builds accountability, trust and loyalty amongst a team.

Story tellers

AFL football can be a very complex and intricate game, yet teams play it best when the do the routine, basic things required by the game in a consistant and repetitive fashion. Coaches therefore need to rely on simple messages, retold and reinforced many different ways, reinforcing what needs to be done on a week in, week out basis. Like any job, football can be monatonous, so the challenge as a leader is to be able to help their team members understand and be inspired to change or maintain their behavour in order for them to become a more successful team. Consistency and quality require a fair degree of repetition no matter what the profession. Being able to learn new perspectives and new insights from great story tellers, supports not only successful teams, but role models to a future generation of coaches.

What other themes do you believe should be here? I look forward to your comments.

Swap It Logo

Good leadership, like losing weight, requires consistent effort

In an instant ‘on’ society, we don’t have time or patience for many things. We want change and results quickly. We want to take a pill to shed excess weight quickly. We want our leaders to attend a training course and change their behaviour over night as a result. But we all know the reality of life is very different. People don’t lose weight and remain slim with one weight loss treatment. Good leaders aren’t made with one leadership program. The key is about building routine and consistency.

As I find myself again looking for answers to assist people in organisations  become better leaders, I have been thinking more and more about how to integrate what a leader needs to learn and do, into their every day work.  There is plenty discussion at the moment about informal learning. In essecense most of what we learn occurs when we are working. The theory clearly makes sense and seems to be a no brainer. That’s until you try and put it into practical application, where old world learning values are still pre-dominant.

‘Learning and working, won’t that decrease my capacity?’

‘How are we going to measure what has been done – how many courses have been delivered?’

So if activity measurement is key, as we know ‘what get’s measured, gets done’, yet we still want to have the activity occur on the job – how can that happen? Well here is one idea stolen from the world of weight loss. Currently there is an initiative by the Australian Government to help reduce obesity, the Swap It, Don’t Stop It, campaign. The premise being, swap one less healthy activity / eating habit, for a more healthy activity or eating habit.

I downloaded the iPhone app and thought it was pretty nifty actually. It included alerts to remind you about different activities and gave you a way of checking things off. Maybe by offering a similar tool for leaders, I thought we could help leaders to help themselves to change their behaviour (see my example).

Improving leadership, like any behaviour change takes consistency and effort. Re-programming our brains into new patterns, requires us to continually repeat new behaviours, so they can become instinctual. Integrating a tools such as this sort of application, into a broader reinforcing system designed to change leaders behaviours (e.g. role modelling, mentoring, coaching, reinforcing of core values, ‘calling’ of behaviours) surely can offer us another way of helping our leaders adapt to new ways of working.

I would be keen to hear your thoughts and comments on this idea. Please comment on my blog below.

 

 

 

 

 

Kicking the training habit

If you work in the learning and development space, you would probably be aware of the buzz about informal learning. There has been a real awakening to the fact that informal learning can provide some of the greatest learning opportunities. Commonly thought to provide more than 80% of what we learn and the source of some of the most powerful lessons we will learn in life (& indeed in our organisations). But for many organisations, we are a product of our history. Locked into a paradigm of training our people to do a good job and rewarding learning and development professionals for putting more people through even more training programs.

But the current reality is not working. Business needs are changing rapidly resulting in a mounting list of unfullfilled training needs. We are struggling to sustain behaviour change at a rate that keeps up with the changes required by our environment and we find it hard to quantify the benefits associated with our training programs.

We are running the gambit of being high on the training drug, then suffering the hangover of reality where nothing much has changed. Yet we are addicted. It is in our nature. It is what we grew up on. It is hard to resist when people are prepared to pay us to give people ‘everything they need to know’ and entertain them at the same time.

‘Just tell them everything they need to know to do the job right’ – frustrated executive.

We have come to a cross roads, we are struggling harness the power of informal learning as it is a path that we feel we have little control over. Informal learning is a method that can easily go ‘under the radar’ or even ‘missing in action’. Yet the informal learning path is ever present. We just don’t know how to embrace it, leverage it and effectively measure it to prove to our stakeholders that there is a better way.

Let us pause and reflect on some key differences between our desired destination and our current state. Some of the key characteristics of informal learning include that it is self directed in nature, learnt largely through our experience and discussing our insights or questions with others. Informal learning is not new, we learnt how to do many things, from learning to walk, making friends, to solving our home storage crisis – largely through our own trial and error. In life we have typically also learnt a lot through formal learning. We have been through an education system, where we we have relied on others to set a path for us to follow and spoon feed us insights.

Typically informal learning is less visible, it happens in the moment and there are less signposts indicating ‘learning has occurred here today’. In contrast with training, it is very structured, it requires an organised meeting time, often with associated artifacts to take from that learning and hence it is very visible.

Informal learning, by it’s nature starts from a place of desire from the learner. ‘I wonder how to do this..’, ‘what’s is this all about?’, ‘could you show me how to do that?’. A sense of wonderment is a powerful learning tool.

Where as training represents the status quo. It comes with expectations, ‘prove it’, ‘show me’, ‘tell me’, ‘entertain me’. It is easily tracked and can keep law makers happy because we can prove we have checked the right boxes, all the relevant knowledge has been consumed – ‘we are safe to proceed sir!’.

Informal learning has exponential impact when it is transformed into ‘social learning’ through the use of colloboration technologies. Instead of accepting the nearest persons’ answer, we can tap into a digital social network for a better answer – although we must have the confidence and trust to do it.

How do we chart a course to leverage informal learning, whilst at the same time sensibly utilize our training addiction for what what it is best designed for? Like any good learning, the answer rely’s on us experimenting. Experiments I’m currently trying, include being much more deliberate about mashing up the learning experience. Using the best parts of each of the learning modes, to get a better result, with a clear aim of building a path that leads learners to cross the threshold from their addiction to training, to something that requires more pro-active engagement.

Follow me on twitter or my blog to read more about some of my efforts to leverage the power of informal and social learning.

Check out also the following resources on informal and social learning.

Please respond with your thoughts and favorite links on the topic:

Image: zmkstudio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


What is the Culture of Us?

The ‘Culture of Us’ is a look inside corporate culture today, exploring the issues and the challenges, with the aim of ‘making the world a better place to work’.

I have been working in organisation change, learning and development for over 17 years, consulting to major corporations, public institutions and entities throughout Australia and the rest of the world.  With almost 10 years experience gained in top tier consultancies (Accenture and PwC Consulting) and the last 8 years spent internal consulting in two tier one Australian banks (ANZ and currently NAB), I have a raft of experiences I’m keen to share.

This blog is a reflection on my experiences, both present and past.  It provides me an avenue to structure my thinking and share with others my insights.

I hope you enjoy my posts and encourage you to respond so that I can learn from your experience also.

Enjoy,

Geoff.