Tag Archive for 'Leadership'

A positive twist on negative thinking?

Positive thinking seems to be one of the hippest trends of modern management and popular ‘gurus’.  But a review of the empirical evidence, released a few months ago by the University of New South Wales, found those who think negatively actually have stronger memories, make better judgements, are not as gullible, are less selfish, and persevere longer at difficult tasks.*

These are hugely important findings because in many workplaces employees who are branded as ‘negative’ are immediately ostracised, considered too destructive and uncooperative to have on a team.  But what is now evident is that they really do have a valuable role to play in any organisation if given the opportunity to do so.

Different - Zebra

* Unless we’re talking about the toxic people whose clear aim is to cause mayhem by opposing and complaining and conniving and influencing others to join them on the dark side.  In those cases, treat them as a serious performance management issue.  That’s why it’s essential to distinguish between those who simply think negatively with those who work negatively.  The former are easy to coach; the latter not so much.

Obstructionists come in tow different ‘flavours’:

  • The mis-matcher, who will drive you and your colleagues crazy by disagreeing with everything you say hence the moniker mis-matcher. These are annoying people who can’t help themselves and I tell all my clients to fire them LAST WEEK!
  • Non-conformist, who just does not want to be placed in any box, group or team – BECAUSE – they just don’t want to. They are in fact in a box, labeled non-conformist, but even THAT label annoys them.

The challenge for you as a leader is to avoid the temptation to turn a negative thinker into a positive one.  You’re better served identifying the strengths they can bring to the team irrespective of their thinking style, and then incorporate those strengths in some way within their job.  In particular, negative thinkers can make a great contribution in these areas:

  • Matters of cognition:  This includes solving complicated problems, simplifying organisational complexity, and developing subject matter experts.
  • Matters of judgement:  This includes identifying flaws in strategic plans, providing input on the recruitment of new employees, and determining risk.
  • Matters of motivation:  This includes participating in long-term projects, keeping colleagues focused on the core issues, and questioning the status quo.
  • Matters of social behaviour:  This includes communicating critical information, anticipating the impact of change initiatives, and assessing the fairness of decisions.

Of course, positive thinkers can be just as successful at each of those areas.  It’s just that those inclined to think negatively have especially demonstrated those competencies in various academic studies.  Even then, that doesn’t imply that negative thinkers are better than positive ones or vice versa.  They each have advantages (and disadvantages) that brilliant leaders are able to maximise (or minimise).

What you’ll end up discovering is that when you stop seeing negative thinkers as an issue to be rectified and instead see them as a talent to be engaged, they begin to feel valued and acknowledged.  And as soon as that realisation sets in, they’ll eventually exhibit the positive traits that so many of their colleagues have long desired.


Do not hire negative, non-conformist or mis-matchers. Even though academic literature and team oriented literature supports to some degree diversity – as a SMALL business, with LIMITED budgets – you simply cannot afford ANY discordance with your vision and strategy. Of course I am not advocating you hire only yes men and women, what I am suggesting is you AVOID those that will be conflictual.

How do you do that? Contact us and we’ll teach you how to hire the best staff and avoid the most blatant mistakes – BEFORE you make one that can cost you thousands in lost productivity and profitability.

Original source article provided by Mark Mackenzie of The Graffiti Eaters. Thanks Mark!

You need courage to be the boss

You might have noticed a theme in the last few blog posts – toxic staff… You might think I am anti “employees”, but you’d be wrong. The problem does not lie solely with staff, but with who hired them in the first place.

Once someone has been hired, it’s increasingly harder to get rid of them, which is why you need to get rid of them as soon as you realise it’s the right decision. I see it over and over again – toxic staff destroying small businesses.

  • Case #1: A software company had an unproductive ‘receptionist’ who didn’t want to handle a 50% increase in sales. Instead of moving her aside (and possibly getting rid of her), the owner CHOSE to keep her on. Within 12 months, sales went from a robust +50% crashing to an unprofitable -20%. The secretary was then happily doing less and getting paid more with her annual CPI-based raise. How does that make sense?
  • Case #2: Service business needs to have field staff convert sales as part of their job description. Several field-based sales strategies and dedicated tools are developed tested and refined to maximise ROI on client call-outs. Over 6 months, these are  dropped by staff because they unilaterally decide they don’t want to be “in sales”. Sales plummet 40% and field staff go from full-time work to part-time schedules. Everyone loses.
  • Case #3: Consulting company gets online strategies humming with more leads and contracts than ever, tripling sales. Now comes the challenge of delivery… No one steps up to take the lead. Consultant now working 80+ hours/week because she can’t find anyone willing to take up the slack and increase their salary by $50,000+ because they either have no drive or no time availability (external commitments she knew about when she hired them). Because she never hired for future growth, eventually sales slip back down to essentially a salary with marginal tax benefits. She should have kept her “real job” – at least then she wouldn’t be burdened with the administrative headaches!

Leadership, Making Tough DecisionsWhat are the lessons to be learned from this?

  • Hire the best who will get you from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Once you hire them, train and develop them as much and as quickly as you can. Get their buy-in, don’t just give them FREE training, seminars and programs.
  • Pay them according to their RESULTS, not the time and effort they put in, because that reinforces and rewards unproductive behaviour.
  • Get rid of unproductive staff as soon as you can and hire BETTER replacements based on lessons learned.
  • Have the courage to make the tough decisions – NOT making a decision is a decision made by someone else.

The saddest part of having poor (or terrible) staff is that they eventually leave and that’s when it hits home… How much damage they’ve done – by then it’s too late.

Employees: Are You An Asset Or A Liability?

Business Coaching Sydney, Business Coaching Melbourne

For me, there are only two types of employees: Those who are assets and those who are liabilities. Wonder which one you are? Take this simple test:

When asked to do something, do you say “yes, then maybe, then no” or do you respond with “no, then maybe and then yes” (reluctantly)?

If you are predisposed to the first response, you’re a company’s greatest asset and if you’re the second, I hope your CV is current because I would fire you and suggest your boss fires you.

I see it all the time, small businesses with employees who are liabilities and obstacles to growth.

Employers, think about your staff – which category do they fall into?

You need to have the courage to get rid of the bad apples ASAP.

Otherwise stop beating yourself up if you’re working harder than ever, making less…

With no, maybe, yes staff, you’re dead in the water.

There simply is no room in today’s competitive environment to survive with a no-can-do attitude.

It’s like a cancer that kills you one response at a time.

Sorry to be blunt, but y’know what? Someone’s got to tell you.

Want to try to change someone from a liability to an asset – give it your best shot and then post a comment on this blog – I’d love to hear about it because it’ll be a FIRST in my 20+ years of coaching, consulting and advising.

Grass Greener On The Other Side?

In a recent Financial Review article, Michael Mauboussin, author of Think Twice: Harnessing The Power of Counterintuition, explained how star performers fail when they switch companies. His explanations and identification of the three sources of perceptual distortion is absolutely brilliant.

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The Career Making Move: The Leap Of Faith

Every once in a while, an opportunity, a chance to make a big decision that can and will alter your destiny comes around. It requires guts, courage and belief in yourself to take it. We’ve all been there.. Anthony Robbins states that “it is in our moments of decision that our destiny is shaped.” I actually think the reverse is even more true, telling and frequent: “It is in our moments of INdecision that our dreams are destroyed.”

Watch this video and get inspired by taking that leap of faith that will help you cross the chasm to your new destiny, the life you want to be living. In your career, you will face crossroads and challenges that will force you to take a leap of faith. Don’t forget… when you get to the fork in the road… take it!

The Career Making Move: The Leap Of Faith

In our Professional Mastery Programs, we teach professionals and executives how to conquer their fears and apprehensions with practical strategies that work within their environment and context so they can start to make career-making moves and avoid the career limiting moves that often paralyse even the most brilliant technical geniuses.