Personal Values Activity

Author: Jon Shepherd, Co-founder, Leaders of Evolution

Personal values are an expression for what’s most important to you. They allow you to live an authentic, happy personal and professional life through a set of core values that guide decisions, behaviours and actions.

We often hear organisations talking about their values, although too often we neglect to reflect on what’s truly important to ourselves and how these align to our employer, colleagues, friends and family.

Identifying and understanding your values is a challenging and important exercise. Your personal values are a central part of who you are – and who you want to be.

We have developed a FREE Personal Values Activity resource to help you navigate this exercise. Set aside 20 minutes for this thought provoking task, it will certainly get you thinking.

Ongoing Development. Always.

Continue reading “Personal Values Activity”

The Coach as a Leader

Image Credit: news.com.au

Author: Damian Hecker – Director of Learning & Development (Leaders of Evolution).  July 5, 2018.

Australian Boomers Assistant Coach Luc Longley was aggrieved, probably still angry and bitterly disappointed.  Yet he spoke calmly in his observations that Philippines Head Coach, Chot Reyes, incited the violent brawl in the Boomers V Philippines match and laid the blame pretty closely at his feet.

Whether this is true (and there is some evidence to say Reyes at least encouraged a physical approach from his players), it brings into focus the role the coach plays as a leader. Too often we get drawn into the hyperbole of coaches as ‘tactical geniuses’ and the importance of structure and forget what the role of the coach really is – to develop people.

Jean Cote and Wade Gilbert explored what effective coaching was in their 2009 paper ‘An Integrative Definition of Coaching Effectiveness and Expertise’.  Succinctly, this centred around three things – Coach Knowledge, Athlete Outcomes and Coaching Context.

Coaches need a level of professional knowledge, that of tactics and skills of the sport. But to be effective they must complement this with interpersonal knowledge(knowledge of and engagement with others) and intrapersonal knowledge(knowledge of self).

A slow shift in coach education recognises the need to provide coaches with the tools to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal knowledge.  Self-awareness and Emotional Intelligence are two key areas which, pleasingly, are starting to infiltrate into some mainstream coach education programs.

So, getting back to Reyes. How self-aware was he?  Did he have the intrapersonal knowledge to understand what ramifications his instructions might lead to?  Did the situation of the game cause his emotions to boil over?  Perhaps we’ll never know, but his instructions to ‘hit somebody’ demonstrate a lack of effective leadership and awareness around the impact of his decisions.

When we look at Athlete Outcomes it centres around the 4 C’s – Competence, Character, Confidence, Connection.

At this elite level it is fair to assume most coaches are able to influence an athlete’s competence, that is their ability to play the game and improve.  But it would seem only the great coaches can positively influence the character and confidence of their players and a sense of connection within the team.

Recent example? Darren Lehmann fell on his sword after the ‘Sandpaper Gate’ drama in South Africa.  From afar you would have to question his capacity to develop the character of certain players.

Culture and character go hand in hand and with this example it was clear that mistakes had been made or at the very least behaviours were excused.  How else could players get to that point and think what they were doing was ok?  With more effective leadership and the education to help the players also develop self-awareness it’s possible a different outcome may have resulted.

It ain’t all bad though. Brad Fittler recently banned phones in the training environment for the State of Origin series in order to develop relationships and greater connection between players and staff.  2-0 up in the series says he has done something right – perhaps this level of interpersonal knowledge was just what the team needed.

Richmond Football Club won last year’s AFL Premiership off the back of one important word – connection. Check out this article from July last year (eight weeks before finals) for evidence of what was to come.  Famously the club engaged in their HHH Sessions last year – Hardship, Hero, Highlight in order to strengthen the emotional connection of the group.

Coaching is hard at any level.  If we were to analyse what needs to be developed within the areas of Coach Knowledge and Athlete Outcomes we have a painstaking task ahead of us.  Coaches should be supported and applauded (mostly) for the work they put in.

The vision from the Philippines demonstrates how literally players are prepared to take instructions from their coach and what the ramifications of that can be.  If this is what we see at the absolute elite level, what does this say about how aware coaches at the junior and grassroots level need to be of their message?

Only one team can win the championship in any given season.  If that is the coaches only measuring stick many are going to be left looking for new jobs at seasons end.  Focusing on their own development (professional/interpersonal/intrapersonal) and the outcomes of their athletes provide a balanced scorecard and much fairer measure of success.

Let’s hope the disaster we witnessed in Manilla only encourages more organisations to invest in the development of their coaches.

Outside of the X’s and O’s.

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Our LoE Connect is an e-newsletter that provides our followers with purposeful leadership and development resources designed to inspire individual and team growth. 

Why great leaders consistently achieve their goals

Author: Jon Shepherd, Director of Business Operations & Development at Leaders of Evolution (June 15 2018)

Goal setting is universally seen as an effective approach to development — regardless of what that development might be. Goals provide an end point to progression and a road map to get there.

There are different methods of goal setting and everyone will want to approach this in their own way. A well known approach to goal setting is using ‘SMART Goals’. Smart goals provide a simple and effective framework that can support anyone in goal setting and identifying the actions to achieve these goals.

Specific – Is your goal clear, concise and easily understood?

Measurable – How do you measure success?

Attainable– How will you achieve this?

Relevant– Does this tie in with your role?

Timeframe– When will the goal be achieved?

To support the SMART goal framework it’s important you set goals you are passionate about. As discussed in this Harvard Business Review article by Kaitlin Woolley, immediate benefits are a stronger predictor of persistence than delayed benefits—across a range of goals, in areas including fitness, nutrition, and education.

Download your FREE SMART Goal setting worksheet – Click HERE

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Our LoE Connect is an e-newsletter that provides our followers with purposeful leadership and development resources designed to inspire individual and team growth. 

Need help navigating tricky conversations?

Author: Jon Shepherd, Director of Business Operations & Development at Leaders of Evolution

Those who lead have to have challenging conversations often. The reasons for having these conversations vary but what remains true is that these conversations often lead to better results.

These conversations are not a personal attack, they are just a way of seeking improved performance from teams and individuals.

The short video below shares some tips and tricks on how to navigating challenging conversations.

Download your FREE Challenging Conversation Planner – Click HERE 

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Our LoE Connect is an e-newsletter that provides our followers with purposeful leadership and development resources designed to inspire individual and team growth. 

The Final Reflection – One Month of Learning in the U.S. of A.

Author:  Damian Hecker, Director of Learning & Development at Leaders of Evolution. May 8, 2018. 

The gruelling 15-hour flight from LAX to Tullamarine provides plenty of time for reflection, albeit in a cramped (even for me at 165cm!) and uncomfortable reflective learning environment.  The excitement of coming home from a month of learning in America was tempered with a feeling that the surface was only just scratched in my time there.

So, what was the real impact of investigating the various institutions I visited and what subliminal learning lay buried in simple observation and experience?  I have put this together to not only put a full stop on communicating the Leaders of Evolution (LoE) Study Tour but also attempt to share my learning to perhaps inspire some action on your behalf as well.

I hope you find some value in my experiences, here’s the wrap up of what I learnt in the U.S. of A.

Who’s responsible for your ongoing development?

For an emerging business every dollar counts.  In this instance, my business partner Jon Shepherd and myself had to weigh things up – get paid or head to the States?  Forgoing the monthly salary to invest in personal and business growth was our choice and the early indicators would say this decision is vindicated.

However, this made me think more deeply about learning and development and who really is responsible for this.  In the professional world there is a mindset that the business is responsible for employee growth, especially in terms of investment.  No doubt this is plenty of truth to this.

It also caused me to reflect on a conversation I had with a mentor a year or two back about a couple of his staff who were unwilling to co-invest in an overseas professional development opportunity.  Their belief was the organisation should cover all of their expenses.

When faced with this conundrum what would you do?  Would you be prepared to forego the monthly wage to enhance your professional capacity and marketability?

Based on my experience, I could only advise to seriously consider putting your hand in your pocket if the opportunity presents.  I’d be surprised if you regretted it.

The many faces of leadership

It was inspiring to observe a number of effective leaders in action in the varied environments I was provided access.  I noticed some commonalities amongst them.

  • Humility – Most of the people I met had every right to tell me how good their organisation was.What I noticed is they very humbly explained what they were seeking to achieve and why this was their strategy. Every one of them established an environment of inclusivity and shared curiosity, even respectfully listening to this Aussie bloke’s weird accent and stories from Down Under!
  • Respect, Rapport, Relationships – I’ve a long-held view from my teaching days that developing respect, rapport and relationships builds a healthy foundation for engagement and growth.This was evident at Syracuse University when Professor Rick Burton casually opened doors and conversations with countless colleagues.  To a person every coach, athlete and administrator invested in our discussion on this whistle-stop tour.  Without the afore mentioned ‘3 R’s’ and Rick’s capacity to develop these, I’d be surprised if this approach would have been as successful.
  • Work ethic – In a world built for efficiency, we are all somehow busier than ever. The work ethic I witnessed was impressive and as much as we must ensure balance in our lives, there will be no substitute for a relentless approach to achieving goals.
  • Establishing a safe environment – Each and every person I spent time with went out of their way to establish a safe environment. The hospitality was out of this world and it really is the simple things such as this that can foster long term relationships.  I hope we can repay this kindness one day and it was a huge reminder to focus on getting every aspect of the environment right and always analysing the culture you are striving to promote.

Good things happen outside the comfort zone

It wasn’t until the tin bird was about an hour into flight that it dawned on me – this trip is a big deal.

Travelling to the other side of the world, meeting and presenting to people I’d never met and balancing the importance of learning with establishing partnerships for the future.  This was new territory for me, it was daunting and there was pressure to perform.

Throw in the added anxiety of driving solo on the wrong side of the road in another country and there was enough going on to push me well outside of my comfort zone.

Through belief, open-mindedness and a clear understanding of why I was there representing LoE, I was able to ensure the intended outcomes we had set out were achieved.  A highly functioning GPS on my phone didn’t go astray either!

Without stepping out of my comfort zone I’d never have known if I belonged in that arena.

This trip has been the greatest professional learning experience of my life and I am incredibly grateful to those who spent the time on giving LoE a chance.  The most exciting thing now is continuing to foster and grow the partnership opportunities whilst putting the learning into action back in Australia.

We love an underdog story in Australia and although LoE may only be small, we will continue to dance down the wicket in pursuit of individual and business growth.

Even if the American’s don’t understand our cricket metaphors!

5 things I learnt at Syracuse University

By Damian Hecker, Director of Learning & Development at Leaders of Evolution

It’s not often you get the backstage pass.  No lines, preferential treatment and access to a world that most of us only ever discover through a behind the scenes doco.

To say I had the rockstar treatment during my time at Syracuse University (SU) is not the American swagger rubbing off on me, more so a humble nod to the kindness and grace shown by my host Rick Burton.

Rick is Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) at Syracuse meaning he spends time engaging with academics faculty, coaches and student-athletes in the pursuit of a truly holistic education and sport experience for students – no mean feat in a university of 20,000 students and over 600 student-athletes.  With this comes relationships developed at all levels across the University and of course, the occasional opportunity to hand out a backstage pass!

So, what did we learn and what can we share?  Here’s the abridged version of what I picked up in a couple of days at SU.

It’s about family– When you’ve got one question to ask Dino Babers, (Head Coach of SU American Football team) the pressure is on you! ‘So, what have you learnt about coaching since being at SU?’

Happily, this made him ponder.

Eventually – “It’s about family.  We need a lot of people doing things at the highest level for these young men to perform.”  This refers to not only the wider team Dino oversees but people including academic faculty, athletic directors and staff, tutors and others to ensure the student is performing both academically and from a sports performance perspective. When you’re regularly playing in front of 50,000 people at the Carrier Dome, you better make sure every box had been ticked.

Look ‘em in the eye– Emotional Intelligence and its place in coaching and leadership was an ongoing area of discussion over the two days. Speaking to Chris Fox (Head Cross Country & Track/Field coach) he summed up emotional intelligence in his role beautifully.

‘You look in their eye and you see what they’re bringing that day. That lets me know if it’s a day to ask for a little more or a little less.’  Perfect.

It takes a village to raise a child– Similar to point one but the mechanics to ensuring student-athletes are set up for life are huge. With less than 3% of Division I athletes going on to professional careers it is critical for the system to develop the person.

Sure, these young people get access to sporting facilities and support most of us mere mortals can only dream of.  However, after graduation this is over.  So what happens next?  It was impressive to see not just the resources invested in this, but more so the passion and capacity of those people involved in delivering on this outcome. Tommy Powell (Assistant Provost for Student-Athlete Academic Development) drove this point home to me as he discussed the strategy and structure for ensuring balance between academics and sport for student-athletes.

Our sporting system stacks up– We do ok in Australia. We do not have the same resources as these Universities, apart perhaps from the wealthy elite professional clubs but what we do have is a great structure.

Hearing students discuss ‘retiring’ after college as a 21 year-old and listening to the challenges of budding coaches struggling to get opportunities to coach because they’re not elite players was disheartening.

Our sporting system in Australia is amongst the best in the world, providing opportunities for people to access elite and professionally executed pathways, or play competitive sport until they are 50 if they want.  Same with coaching where numerous opportunities exist for anyone who wishes to pursue a community or professional pathway.

We like to copy much from American sport but here’s hoping our life long approach to participation stays well in-tact for a long time to come.

We feel culture– You just knew this was a good environment to work or play in.  Every person I met took the time to explain what they do and showed genuine interest in why I was there.  We were invited into the minds and facilities of athletes and players, all of whom showed enormous respect and represented the SU brand with integrity.  The culture was seen, heard and felt.

I could easily go on but this is my attempt to wrap up two incredible days of learning in under 800 words! A treasure trove of memories and learning to apply into what we do back home, in particular the growth of our Young Leaders in Sport e-learning course.

One last shout out to Rick Burton for his hospitality and organisation.  We look forward to connecting with SU again in Melbourne this July.

Go ‘Cuse!