What I got out of a Nippers Bucket & Sponge Race

DiSC in full flight.

It’s funny when you’re acutely aware of the different behavioral styles and analyse peoples behavior by observing them and what you notice. Recently I was watching my 6 year old son at nippers. They were playing a game where they had to collect water from the ocean with a sponge. There were about 8 teams, 5 nippers in each team. Each nipper had to run down to the ocean fill up the sponge with water, squeeze as much water as they can into the bucket to see which team could fill it up first.

It was honestly the most interesting race I’ve seen 6 year olds do. As I watched the boys in my sons team, before the whistle blew, some of the boys faces were on, they were ready and raring, they wanted to win. One of the guys at the back was looking around the beach a little aimlessly, not at all engaged, another was making sure everyone was ready to go and another making sure the first guy was behind the line and not going to cheat. Now obviously most of this would prob be oblivious to a parent who doesn’t look at behaviours as I do, but given its in my DNA now, I watched on with great curiosity as to how it was going to unfold.

The whistle blew the first guy went straight down to the water, barely touched the sponge in the water, straight back to the bucket – super fast only to realise his disappointment that he hadn’t gathered much water. The second guy went in – slowly pushed the sponge under water, waited, waited, waited until it had clearly soaked up as much water as it could, his team was yelling hurry up and he picked up the heavy sponge and carried is back to the bucket only to have the guy who went before him grab it out of his hands and ring out the water into the bucket. Then it was my sons turn. He ran out deep, beyond where he needed to go and where I thought he would go because he had his own agenda. He wanted to dive under the water and fill the sponge up as he did it. He wanted to have fun and cool down – it was quite a warm morning.

As he ran back up the beach the nipper who went first attempted to grab the sponge out of his hands to squeeze it into the bucket of water, only to have jack turn to him and say back off, to which the nippers eyes opened wide and he took 2 steps back. Next was the kid who was at the back of the team when the game was being explained. He didn’t even realise it was his turn. The guys were yelling at him to go, go, go. He had no idea what to do. He casually picked up the sponge, headed to the water as he looked to see what the other teams were doing, wet the sponge, had a look around and then proceeded back up the beach towards another teams bucket, completely unaware he was going to the wrong teams bucket.

Honestly it was hilarious. This continued on for another round and similar behaviors taking place. Right before my eyes, here was an example of 6 year olds all demonstrating various degrees of behavior of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. I had a little chuckle to myself and thought wow….it starts so young. The way kids play on the beach or in the playground can really be a great indication as to how what they are exposed to early in their lives influences their choices and the way they behave.

I tried to work out which kids belonged to which parents but that was nearly impossible, goes to show, they too just like the sponges on the beach are little sponges so we better watch how we behave, they’re picking up more than we realise and probably want to know.

What Makes a Great Leader

What makes a Great Leader?

There are many articles written about leadership these days, some I skim over and get nothing from, others grab my attention and I’m glued. Usually the ones that grab my attention are those that have some aspect of scientific reference, after all, everything starts with science somewhere along the lines, doesn’t it?

So what makes a great leader? In my opinion, you need to have:

  1. Great self awareness
  2. Clarity on what success looks like and how you’re going to get there.
  3. Strong professional relationships with those influential to your success – your direct team – the one you lead and any others you’re part and
  4. Consistent time set aside for Investment in your development and the development of your team.

If you’re reading this, I’ve made the assumption that you’re a leader of a business or may desire to be a leader in the future.

If you’re a current leader, ask yourself, how’s your career or business going? Are you flying along, in flow, everything is lining up, sales are growing, costs in control, people happy, relationships strong?  Or are there constant challenges, one after the other, nothing quite going right, missing sales, struggling to get your people to stick around, move forward?

Well, if you’re in the first scenario, put your hand out in front of you, face your palm and lift it up to pat yourself on the back. Well done. you’re obv doing many things right.

If, however you’re in the second category and need some assistance, you’re not alone. Careers and business have and will continue to evolve at a pretty rapid rate and you too need to continue to evolve to ensure you’ve got constant clarity on what success looks like for you in your role and how you’re going to get there. If you haven’t invested in any Personal development or you’re still running a Strategy from even 2 years ago, it may be time to set some time aside to refocus and reflect.

Self Awareness is an absolute no brainer when it comes to being a great leader. If you’ve ever worked for a leader who lacked self awareness, you know what I’m talking about – the word frustration comes to mind. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know – that’s ok. It’s when you think you know it all, yet your behaviours, decisions and results prove otherwise. The best way to create greater self awareness, is to get down and dirty with the science behind who you are and complete an Advanced DISC Profile. Click here to find out more about how to develop great self awareness.

Likewise, clarity is a key ingredient in success. Once you have clarity it enables you to prioritise where you spend your time in order to make the greatest impact and have the greatest return. A success plan that you regularly check in to and have someone hold you accountable to, is a great place to start.

So what is a Success Plan? It’s a modern twist on the old skool Position/Job Description except it doesn’t list a long list of tasks to do, the language used is more aspirational. You actually write what success looks like aka  – You know you’ve been successful when…. you’ve delivered x % of growth YOY, when retention is sitting at y.

It really is quite a simple yet powerful tool. Once you’ve got clarity on what success looks like in your role, it will provide valuable transparency to your team with what you need to deliver to be successful and in turn what they need to deliver to assist the businesses success.

If you’re a CEO, you’d absolutely need clarity from the Board as to what success looks like, – it doesn’t have to be as straight forward as a Success Plan. By the Board reviewing whats been working, what hasn’t, where the business needs to go in order to be successful…… receiving feedback is a form of clarity. Either way, long or short term, you need to make sure you’re on the right track and not just turning up day after day going through the motions. You need to be moving forward and so does the business you’re part of. It sounds simple and I hate to say it, it really is. Clarity is key.

Clarity from your peers and/or your team is also incredibly valuable. If they have clarity on what success looks like for you in your role, it will help them have greater clarity in what they need to deliver to contribute to the success.

When they have clarity, there is no confusion and everyone can simply get on with what they need to deliver.

When it comes to Strong professional relationships with your peers and team, if you truely want to embrace a future of trust, respect and speed, there needs to be the culture of open and honest conversations where feedback is welcome, as it’s always given and received openly for the intention of improving a person, decision or outcome for the business.

Feedback delivered or received without having a strong professional relationship can do great damage. It can ruin relationships, cause people to get their backs up and actually hinder ongoing communications and actually back fire from the initial good intentions. So, before thinking everyone is going to be on board with your plan and purely wanting support and confirmation, be open to actually listening to what feedback they’re providing. Feedback whether we like it or not is a gift, what we choose to do with it is up to us. If we value the person giving it to us, we’re more than likely to listen, consider and act, but if we don’t value them, we’re more likely to disagree, ignore and not act which can also be a valuable mistake.

So how do you build strong professional relationships? Time, yes, but by also finding common values. When you have things in common with another person you feel you are like each other, get each other and are able to relate to each other more so than with someone whom perhaps you do not have as much in common with. However, by you continuing to invest in your own personal development you can continue to learn the art and science or personal excellence aka self awareness and emotional intelligence – the internal dividends it will pay, will be significant.

Most of us want the last tech in our lives, or at least tech that’s helping our lives become easier, by updating the way we as leaders operate -think, behave and execute, we too can lead more easily, with greater results, so what are you waiting for. Become the leader you’ve always wanted to be.