The Engaging Leader Diary – February/March Summary
1. ‘Family Values’
If we want to succeed in life the success of our work will one day be measured by the impact we had on the lives of others.
In this diary post, I want to share some of the lessons and ideas that we learn as leaders during the journey that is life. Today’s point is that engaging leadership includes being an engaging leader at home. We will have rough days and good days at home as we do at work though being a success in one area of your life does not mean you are success as a whole. As one CEO of a sizeable organization sadly said to me after a team programme with me ‘I was so busy building this business that when my kids were younger I had no time for them. Now that I am older and have time, they have no time for me’.
In a recent interview with two inspiring leaders Caspar Craven and Dan Kuschell we discussed the things that we have learned from our kids. What this inspired in me was to sit down with my wife, Ruth and two boys Matthew age 11 and Daniel age 8 and to work out our values and vision as a family. Why would we do this at work but not also do this at home?
This turned out to be an incredible family experience. My eldest was initially guarded while the youngest was full of creativity and ideas. What this led to was the following family statement, which the boys decided to call the ‘Super Cooper Family Values’. So our family values of Kindness, Joy, Health, Teamwork, Growth, Love and Gratitude were born. Also a special statement ‘We really care about our family and home, other people and the environment. We have great life experiences, we listen, learn from our mistakes and work hard to become the best we can be!’
Over the last few weeks, Matthew started to think about our number one value ‘Kindness’. It was suggested at school that they watch ‘The Kindness Diaries on Netflix’. This is where Leon Logothetis is traveling the globe on his bike and side car nicknamed ‘Kindness One’ living off the kindness of strangers. He took no money with him and even in the poorest countries like India lived off the generosity of others asking for a bed, food and also fuel for his bike. Unknown to those who offered help, Leon and his friends have money. The most worthy people who often had very little to offer would then be surprised when he confessed at the end of the stay and gave them something they needed. The programme brings tears to eyes and has transformed orphanages, given money for operations to cure the blind and even bought a tuk tuk for a very poor and kind Indian man who had slept on the floor with his pregnant wife to let Leon sleep on his bed.
With my aspiration to be an engaging father in my kids lives, I watched the programme with Matthew and was inspired. So I sent an email to Leon and we are are now talking about him becoming a guest on my radio show. He also kindly sent Matthew his book which he was thrilled by and I am sure he will have the opportunity to say thanks to Leon when we skype next week.
So what has been the impact so far of our values. Last Monday we were in Stratford Upon Avon the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The boys both became very sad when we saw three homeless people. So this is where we had to step up and engage. ‘Kindness’ is at the top of our family values. What do we do? We had a huddle and came up with the idea that we would buy them some food. So off we trotted to McDonald’s and bought burgers and tea for three homeless men as you can see in the photo below.
As we look back on our lives as parents and business leaders it is moments like this when living by our principles leaves memories in our minds. Also memories in the minds of impressionable young people. I forwarded the photo to Leon who sent me a note back to say ‘I loved this, tell the kids I am proud of them’ which gave the boys a bigger feeling of warmth. From the act of creating our values and a family vision statement more engagement as a family is occurring and we are all growing closer. There will be ups and downs as in all family life and business. But all has to better where engagement is truly present.
2. Employee Engagement Book Club
I recently interviewed my friend David Long CEO and Founder of My Employees on the Business Elevation show for the second time. My Employees for 30 years have provided engagement and reputation services from their base in North Carolina.
David has been someone I have spoken about in my keynotes on ‘How to Be An Engaging Leader of Manager’ for several years now (see photograph). This is because he does things differently to engage his employees. He is an engaging leader and the results speak for themselves. His book club for employees involves studying great books together. Sharing lessons from the books has resulted in conversations that have resolved many personal issues including relationships, money problems as well as generating millions of dollars of ideas that have grown the business to circa 55 staff. The conversations go deeper and few people ever want to leave My Employees. I love the book club solution having run these monthly within the entrepreneur groups I ran for 7 years. Why not learn from the best wisdom out there.
What surprises me is over the years that I have shared this idea I am not sure that anyone has actually followed it through in their company. When engagement is such an issue and such a big opportunity for many companies today why are leaders not prepared to go the extra mile when something makes so much sense? Time to lead from the front perhaps?
3. Are you a leader of distinction?
This week I was speaking to Al Cole who is interviewing me for his show ‘People of Distinction’ that airs on CBS Radio in the United States.
It got me wondering what does it take to truly be a person of distinction?
Where we got to in our conversation was that people of distinction often have a deeper why. A deep reason for what they do that drives them over enormous odds to achieve something that is worthy of the label.
This deeper why is something I have noted in really engaging leaders. It is a passion for their business that also extends to the people within it. At the end of the day without people (employees, clients and suppliers) we have nothing. Better to get clear about your deeper why and then engage these people in that vision. Create a movement and profits, retention, productivity start to flow ………..And don’t forget the legacy of a person of true distinction my friend Stephen Sutton who sadly died of teenage cancer in the photo below ‘the time to get started is now’.
4. Engaging Leaders Measure Engagement
I was talking today with Engagement Multiplier whose purpose is to enable 100 million people to become more measurably engaged. We love their engagement tool because if you can measure engagement then you can do something about it. A number of our clients are now trialing this and loving the metrics and anonymous dialogue they are able to have with their people.
But why doesn’t everyone bother measuring engagement? The truth is that measuring engagement is only for leaders who are bold and caring. Why? Because you are not sure what you are going to get back. Someone might say something about you that you don’t like or feedback that your organization does not care in the way you think it does? Yes it requires bravery and a thick skin. However, the rewards are enormous in getting it right. Just look at those young and thriving often tech companies that are taking the world by storm with engaged work forces that are the envy of many dinosaurs.
If you are not measuring engagement you need to do it. Do it before your former employees are putting off potential recruits on sites like Glassdoor. Do it to begin to truly engage your workforce, do it to improve productivity, do it to help the wellbeing of your employees……
5. Engaging Exhibitor or Exhibition Lemon?
Have you ever manned an exhibition stand and felt a bit of a lemon? Completely out of your comfort zone?
Last week, having at short notice been kindly offered the opportunity to share a space on an exhibition stand and dip our toe into exhibitions at The Best You at Olympia I found myself hitting a real low spot at about 3pm Saturday while manning the stand on my own. One colleague had left and another was in a talk. I reflected on my conundrum as the more introverted part of me gradually came forth and squirmed with discomfort while my confidence slowly ebbed away. My key take outs:
1. When you have a stand at an exhibition make sure the audience is your audience. Check them out carefully in advance before booking. Our clients are generally
leaders of SME’s not people looking for a career move or to get into coaching. In our instance, not even a paid spotter to bring people to your stand will
have an impact. She brought two people to us despite working really hard.
2. Have a really engaging attraction on your stand to draw people in. For example offering an engaging talk or a free coaching session every 30 minutes.
3. Book a speech at the conference and ensure you deliver a great one as that brings people to your stand.
4. Check out your stand location in advance so it is not tucked away in a backwater from the crowds.
So was it a disaster? No. In fact the lessons learned were invaluable for the next time we exhibit and a low risk as we were not with our core audience. We also gained a few very interesting leads and opportunities. Plus the speaker I had been coaching for her speaker slot at the event made me more than proud. Sarah J Naylor you were brilliant. The advice I had received from John Blaskey of the Exhibiting Agency had also been first class and put us much closer to being on the front foot. The next time we exhibit will now be ready, we know what to do and I am sure I won’t be left feeling like a lemon! I won’t be manning the stand on my own for a start :).
6. Engaging Conversations
Today my mind is on pruning back a massive hedge in my garden before spring sets in. If I had regularly maintained it each year and effectively chipped away at it then it would not now be a tangled 10 foot high mass and an enormous job to bring it back under control.
This reminds me of the challenge with people. If regular conversations are not occurring then issues build up and tangled messes can develop. Where people’s attention is more focused on the numbers, new ideas or operational delivery rather than the people aspects challenges build up for the future. Good people also leave!
How regularly are you having deep honest conversations with your people? Are you walking the floor frequently and making them feel special with your interest and caring consideration. Are your regularly having team meetings? Are you praising them for what they have done well?
Like pruning a hedge do keep those engaging conversations going regularly with your employees, bosses, suppliers and clients. People love to receive feedback that they are doing a great job every 7-9 days. Most people though receive that feedback at their annual appraisal.
8. Let’s Get Engaged
So today, I have been working on an exciting free event which will be held on the morning of the April 17th called ‘Let’s Get Engaged’. This will suit anyone who is a brave, caring leader of an SME or HR professional with engagement on their agenda. Together we are going to talk about what is engagement, introduce you to the best system in the market place to measure it and discuss how to build engagement in your organization.
As a special guest we will also have the most accomplished ocean rower Mick Dawson joining us. I decided to invite Mick when he told me how engaging the Royal Marines had been and how he was so shocked at the behaviours within the business world that he decided to head off and paddle the oceans. 7000 miles across the North Pacific from Japan to San Francisco he achieved what was deemed the impossible in 189 days!
The event will be at Winstanley House, Braunstone, Leicester between 9.30am and 12.30pm. If engagement is of special interest to you in your role and your business then you are welcome to join us. If you are a trainer or a coach with a good client base you are also welcome. We believe in collaboration.
We have a strict limit of 50 people so do book now
Chris Cooper is an engagement specialist, coach and speaker. He is host of the Business Elevation Show on Voice America and Co-Author of The Power To Get Things Done (Whether You Feel Like It Or Not). [email protected]
9. Engaging leaders build movements
Last week, I interviewed Mark Croston the Chairman of the World Dodgeball Association and Vice President of the Rugby League. When I mentioned to my colleague that there was a World Dodgeball Association he could not stop laughing. ‘Chris have you seen ‘Dodgeball’ the movie with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller?
I then did a sense check. My kids absolutely love dodgeball. It is played in many countries. In fact there are 64 member countries in the association.
There are hundreds if not thousands of teams playing dodgeball around the world. This year the World Championships will be held in no other than Madison Square Gardens USA. Mark and team have seen an opportunity and brought a minority sport together and are putting it on the world map. Good on them. Get a clear vision, keep moving forward, talk passionately about it and be resilient were the messages I took from this show.
People love to believe and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Are you creating a movement in your organization? What would happen if you did? What won’t happen if you don’t?
10. What do music, poetry and art have to do with engagement?
Do you regularly take time to look deeply inside yourself and consider how can I improve? What is important? What is my engaging vision as a leader? How do I become the best leader that I can? How will I present the vision to the outside world? How will I react if this goes well or doesn’t? Answering questions such as these is rarely a linear process, it involves both sides of our brains and ideas from the subconscious mind can arise when you least expect them.
Last Friday, ideas were pouring from my subconscious after the ‘Business Elevation Show’ with Studio Leadership. Studio Leadership are comprised of three leadership experts who are also highly talented artists. Business Poet Libby Wagner, Artist and Marketing Expert Steven Morris and musician Owen O’ Suilleabhain who has worked with Stephen Spielberg, Russell Crowe, Nigel Kennedy ……..
What became clear to me is that artistry can really help us with the creative process and help us become more engaging as a leader. Engagement is an almost mystical feeling and those qualities can be accessed with music, art and poetry. And this team use their artistic skills combined with leadership wisdom and do it beautifully well.
If you enjoy deep intelligent and reflective conversation and would enjoy the opportunity to appreciate Owen’s music, Libby’s poetry while allowing your mind to fill you with engaging thoughts around taking your engaging leadership to the next level then listen to this interview.
To access the interview: Artistry of Engagement with Studio Leadership and Chris Cooper
To find out more about Studio Leadership
If you happen to live within traveling distance of Leicestershire in the UK and are a brave, caring leader of an organization with 10 people or a consultancy with a large client base do check out the Let’s Get Engaged event on 17th April. The event is a free gift from us and includes the world’s most accomplished ocean rower Mick Dawson – so do book your seat quickly as seats are filling really fast and we only have 50 places!
11. No, Can’t Afford That Attitude
Are you looking after yourself and boosting your levels of engagement?
Over the last 6 months, I have been exercising 4- 6 times a week with a mixture of running, cycling, weights, swimming and yoga. Two incredible interview guests who have inspired me big time have been 214 FINA Masters world swimming record holder and motivational speaker Karlyn Pipes and world iron man champion and marketing expert Jane Hansom. Both whom are a similar age to myself and have pursued their exercise ambitions later in life.
Becoming an elite athlete though was not my motivator. When my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, I realized exercise was a brilliant way to focus some energy and improve resilience to support my family and my business. With two very fit sons, I also wanted to be able to keep up with them. Incredibly it is now less ‘Dad your fat’ instead ‘Dad show us your muscles’! Well any sign of a compliment from them is a rare sign of progress!
So last week, I read a very inspiring article entitled ‘Jane Hansom: Journey to Iron Man Champion’ which made a real impact on me. When asked ‘Are there many days when getting out to train is a struggle and you’d prefer to stay in bed? Jane replied ‘ No, Can’t Afford That Attitude’. What a brilliant response! No latitude for not exercising in Jane’s case 7 days a week! On Wednesday, I woke up and it was cold outside. Then I thought ‘No, Can’t Afford That Attitude’. I ran 5 miles.
In my keynote ‘Engagement Starts With You – How to be an engaging leader or manager’ I talk about getting ourselves engaged before we get into the workplace.
A great way to do this is through exercise. It makes sense if we are active then we will have more energy to be engaging for longer.
Thanks very much to Karlyn whose inspiration and truly wonderful interview got me swimming again after many years of absence and introduced me to Jane! Also, thanks to Jane for inspiring me with her wisdom on brand ambassadorship and wise words ‘No, Can’t Afford That Attitude’. Not a bad mantra to take into other areas of your life too!
To listen to the interview with Karlyn Pipes on Courage to Change – the Miracle of a Do-Over
To listen to the interview with Jane Hansom on Brand Ambassadorship
If you live within traveling distance of Leicestershire in the UK and are a brave, caring leader of an organization with 10+ people or a consultancy with a large client base do check out the Let’s Get Engaged event on 17th April. The event is a free gift from us and includes the world’s most accomplished ocean rower Mick Dawson . Seats are limited to 50 places and going fast!
Chris Cooper is an engagement specialist, coach and speaker. He is host of the Business Elevation Show on Voice America which in 2017 was the most listened to show on the business network and Co-Author of The Power To Get Things Done (Whether You Feel Like It Or Not). To contact Chris: [email protected]