Monthly Archives: July 2012

Leadership = Influence (Dr Paul Hersey on “Situational Leadership”)

In a stunning display of endurance and personal effort, faced with the world’s worst microphone, but powered by an enthusiastic exhibition audience, Dr Paul Hersey (one half of the famous Hersey-Blanchard duo) explained at ASTD2012 ICE how…

Leadership is basically one key skill: Influence


Good leaders exert influence by adapting their style on the basis of two main things: Task result/goal-driven leadership or Collaborative/relational dialogue-driven behaviour. In my experience, most people have a natural preference to lead and be led in a way that sits somewhere on the continuum between these two things…


Depending on the current development level of the people you are trying to influence (with regard to the task at hand) one of 4 styles will therefore be required


When using these different styles, it will be important to pay attention to simple guidelines:

  • If “telling”, it is important to explain how things should be done (LIKE THIS)
  • When “proposing”, to OFFER your own idea means you ask for and accept feedback
  • “Asking” (which the rest of the world calls “coaching”) is all about getting the other person to find solutions for themselves (NOT MAKING PROPOSALS) …if they are not able, the leader may go back to proposing
  • “Delegating” implies handing over a task with NO CONTROL
  • A good leader is able to observe the development levels and needs of the person to be led (with regard to the task) and use the right leadership style. Development levels are defined in terms of commitment to the task (understanding and motivation) and ability to do the task.

    By adapting styles according to the development level of the person (for the task), we increase and maintain motivation and develop people toward high performance… ..until ultimately, they don’t need any more leading and we can let them go!

    For more information and to learn the relevant skills associated with Situational Leadership, check out and follow the course “Working with People” ….with me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Learning narration

    The guys from the Internet Time Alliance talk about social learning and it’s many aspects. One of those aspects is Harold Jarche‘s idea of “work narration” whereby workers take regular note of what they are doing and what they’ve learnt, sharing ideas, resources and references.. Typical work narration might take place via Twitter or LinkedIn or by using other in-company platforms like Microsoft SharePoint.


    In my training, I encourage participants to narrate their learning over the course of the training. The following are some simple examples that are easy to implement and that when measured, show participants’ interest:



    • As every trainer does, I regularly do Level 1 + limited Level 2 checks to see participants’ (reactions to) learning during class time. Using a variety of questions, we can see what different people take-away from the learning process.. this can sometimes illuminate things for other participants.
    • I have started to use individual “profile spaces” in the training room, where each participant can regularly add her comments, likes/dislikes, post-it notes and other reflections. These are clearly marked with the names of each person and visible to all. The next evolution here will be to digitalise these spaces…
    • For specific topics, I assign out-of-class tasks to encourage participants to search for and share references and reflect further on their own learning. An example of this can be seen in the “Flow wall”, used to narrate learning of the same-named motivational theory.
    • When I started out as a trainer, I used to go back to participants by email several weeks or months later to ask them for more feedback on their learning + implementation of new competences. In the past years, this evolved to a follow up questionnaire. These days, I use LinkedIn groups with more quick, frequent, regular and lasting “stoking or the fire” to keep the learning narration going between participants.



    What do you do?


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    Outside the box (part 1)

    Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a box. It was a very nice box, with good solid walls and nice smart corners. She had everything she needed: Food, a bed and lots of nice things to look at. And she had her Mummy and Daddy, of course.

    The little girl didn’t know what was outside of the box and for most of the time, she never really thought to wonder. Everyday, she would go about her little girly business and everything was just fine.

    One day, however, when Mummy and Daddy were out of sight, the little girl spotted a small hole in the wall. Slowly and carefully, bravely but fearfully, she crept up to the wall and pushed her face against the small crack. But before she could see anything, just at that very moment, her Daddy’s voice came booming out: “Come away from there”. So she did.

    Later that day, the little girl asked her Daddy coyly: “Daddy, what IS outside of the box?”

    Daddy replied: “Nothing you need to worry about.”

    And that was that. She didn’t.

    Testing, a great way to learn

    North Sea. Beach. Rain. Children siesta. Revise for motorcycle theory test!

    Last week I went to take my motorcycle theory test. I didn’t revise and didn’t have a clue what was waiting for me. I failed by one point on 50… …but I learnt what I knew and didn’t know and what the test looked like (lots of technical stuff about motorbike tyres!!). This week, I am learning by testing.

  has a nice practice test section which allows you to test yourself on all types of questions in tests that are exactly like the real test. You can check your answers at any time and find extra technical explanations of why you were right or wrong.

    So I’m learning by testing. And I’m getting better every time!


    What’s my point? Testing is a great way to learn.

    As a test-creator, consider the following elements to get the best out of your test participants:

    • Authentic testing is relevant to the subject being learnt
    • Content, questions and answers should be presented in a variety of formats
    • Participants should be able to quickly get feedback on their performance
    • Gamification elements like social comparison, leader-boards, variable time-limits and progressive knowledge levels improve motivation to take and retake tests

    That’s all I had to say!
    …back to my revision ๐Ÿ™‚


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    IKEA and Priority Setting

    In Leadership training, we often do a priority setting exercise where leaders have to help their team to put a list of objects “in order of importance”. In the debrief, I make an analogy with the way people go shopping at IKEA. Yesterday I was at IKEA… I won’t say how it went ๐Ÿ˜ฆย ย  …I’ll just share the analogy…


    There are 2 types of IKEA shopper…

    • The first goes to IKEA with a specific mission. She knows what she wants (a bed) and upon arrival, moves quickly, confidently and economically towards the bed section. Faced with 20 beds to choose from, she consults her specifications and chooses the one that best responds to her needs. In the case that 2 or more beds perfectly respond, she will have to make a decisionย and choose.. or re-visit her criteria to better define her needs. This shopper leaves with the bed she needs and rarely much more.
    • The second goes to IKEA with no specific mission. Upon arrival, she wanders around looking at different things asking “I wonder what I could use this for?” or thinking “That could be nice in the living room…”. On the off-chance that she might think “I’ll buy a bed” she will be faced with 20 beds to choose from and no specific criteria. Quite possibly, this shopper leaves with a bed, although it may not be perfect. Quite certainly, she will leave with many other things.


    For me, an analogy can be drawn with the way people (do not) set priorities..

    • Faced with an inbox of “things to do”, the first type will ask “What is my mission?” and “What are my specifications?” in order to decide which actions best suit her needs and therefore what should be done. Things are classified quickly and easily and the right work gets done, whilst other “useless” things are left behind.
    • The second type of person will spend time wondering/wandering through the list of potential actions with no real purpose, picking things up, playing with them a little, maybe changing to other actions, with no direction. Things are not classified and sometimes the wrong work gets done or “real priorities” are missed.


    In leadership training, participants are given a list of objects to prioritise “in order of importance”, given their situation. There are 2 major approaches:

    • The first start by defining their mission, creating strategic action and then assessing the objects in function of their needs. They ask “How will this help us to achieve our mission?”
    • The second start by looking at the objects, asking “What could we use this for?”


    What do you think is the best approach?

    • It seems obvious to me that type 1 is more organised, strategic and structured. They tend to be more efficient in doing what they set out to do. They prioritise things in terms of relevance to mission and strategy and feel comfortable that everything has been well assessed. I compare them to the “J” of MBTI and I myself like this approach. I am just like that.
    • Type 2 seems to me less effective and things certainly take more time. In that sense, they are less efficient in relationship to their (apparently non-existant) mission. They don’t prioritise in terms of strategy and sometimes end up carrying a lot of stuff out of IKEA on their shopping trolley. This doesn’t fit my MBTI “J”.


    …but is it so obviously bad to be Type 2? Aren’t these the people who find new and interesting creative useful approaches to things? Aren’t they the ones who see opportunities where the others do not, because of their “wider vision”? Are they more flexible? Does their “no-mind-spirit” help them?


    I wonder…



    Decide for yourself…

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