How To Be That Diamond Your Boss Is Looking For!

When it’s all said and done, bosses the world over are looking for someone who is dependable…

Diamonds come in all shapes and sizes. Employees do too. Interesting, isn’t it.?

Those “diamonds” who create the most value at work are the ones that are reliable.

To be a diamond, doesn’t mean being a world beater.

To be a diamond is about slow and steady wins the race.

To be a diamond means managing expectations.

To be a diamond is about landing deadlines.

To be a diamond is owning the work you do.

I could list many more attributes, but you get the gist of what I’m saying. You don’t have to flog yourself to death to be that valued employee. You do need to be yourself and you do need to be reliable. Remember, it’s about solutions or options. Work through the list you have, recognise the roadblocks and frame a solution. Your boss will be forever grateful 😎😎😎

And now for your entertainment, a song from Chris Rea during his rock/pop phase a long time ago – he is one of the great musicians. Track down his works from the last 30 years, you’ll see what I mean.

While your there, check out Chris’s official YouTube channel

How A Leader Can Become a Better Listener

If a leader you know isn’t listening, it’s time for you to grab their attention!

A leader can be one person, or it can be a group of people seeking to achieve a particular purpose. Even in the most equitable of societies, organisations or groups, there are leaders. We often hear the term leadership group, especially in sport.

In short, we need leaders.

The role of the leader in today’s world is to:

  • Listen;
  • Be strategic;
  • Lead by example;
  • Be typical of the type of people/organisation they represent;
  • Make…the…hard…decisions.

Out of the above list, listening is fundamental to helping a leader arrive at the best possible decision they can make.

However, in the “Age of the Talking Head,” leaders appear not to be listening. Unfortunately, the same can be said of those who are the recipients of the leader’s message.

The Dracula like hypnotic trance no longer works: “come to me, and I will promise you the world.” It would seem charismatic leaders are done for (or are they?).

Instead, a leader needs to work out the best form of communication regarding the entity they lead. At the heart of such an approach is two way communication i.e. the sender transmits the information, the receiver listens or deciphers the information and then replies to the sender with feedback, who listens accordingly.

The Engagement Diamond gives us an insight into what two way communication may look like as we build the layers of constructive dialogue:

Embrace Leadership

As a leader, ethical behaviour is key. This includes setting a direction that is open, honest and transparent. This is fundamental to relaying any message you need to make. By adopting these characteristics of engagement, the receiver will be far more receptive to your message – and vice versa.

Keep Staff Informed

By informing employees, team members, colleagues and other stakeholders regularly on what is happening regarding the organisation in a meaningful way, will help others around you adopt similar behaviour. Also, by inviting feedback regarding the information you have provided, will see your team start the the buy-in to become better and achieve key outcomes. However, this doesn’t happen overnight, but persistence is the key to success here.

Promote Collaboration

Encouraging teams that you lead to use collaborative tools such as an app, file hosting service (cloud) or virtual platform are the perfect opportunity to encourage ongoing input and feedback regarding an activity or project they are responsible for. Notice how I said they are responsible for the project. As the leader in this situation, you are the custodian of the project, or the person entrusted with guiding the team to victory.

Support & Develop

It’s important that employees feel part of the organisation, to be aligned with it. This isn’t achieved through performance reviews, but rather through a performance appraisal.

Your team members performance should be evaluated as they go, in effect, reviewed each day. If they stumble, address the issue there and then. If they succeed, praise them accordingly.

A performance appraisal on the other hand should be used to set some goals over a defined period of time, underpinned with the training and development each team member needs to help them achieve that goal.

A Practical Example

Last year, I was part of a series of meetings that discussed the best way to tackle the next wave of COVID, including how to minimise its impact on that organisation.

Leadership

As I was the defacto chair of these meetings (because I was the one that requested them), I arranged with the CEO for a team of key internal stakeholders to be established.

Inform

At the first meeting, we clarified the terms of reference. I then outlined what we knew about the goverement’s new mandates. I also made it clear that the mandates were not the be all and end all regarding the CEO’s responsibilities in this instance. Occupational Safety and Health legislation trumped all other statutory provisions i.e. the CEO must keep employees safe. Services come second in this situation. Without employees, there are no services – it’s that simple.

Collaboration

It was agreed going forward that the meetings would continue in a hybrid form i.e. in person and by video conference, underpinned by using Monday.com to share information, updates and to confirm resources required in between times.

Support

To stay on top of what was happening and how to curb Omicron’s impacts, it was a case of attending Department of Health webinars and the review of the support materials that came through.

The Outcome

This process meant that the CEO was in a position to listen and make decisions around an informed process. It also meant that the CEO could disseminate decisions through this group to the organisation quickly.

A Simple Conclusion

By following these four steps, you might actually prevent something that ends up looking like this:

Did I just hear you correctly? And do I provide my return comments using the same cup? I can think of some larger than life “leaders” who are communicating through a paper cup right now…

How To Build in Redundancy (Down Time)

Despite what many high achievers espouse out there, we cannot keep working at a great rate of knots to achieve key outcomes…

The concept of redundancy is a simple one: how to have time out during the working week.

In otherwords, this is about implementing a process that ensures when feeling the strain, you will give yourself “time-out” to help prevent making a key mistake, or feeling stressed out or even, dare I say, collapsing.

To do this, you must allocate, as a minimum, half a work day each working week. If you can, make it a full day of your work time.

The key is to use this time for a range of different purposes: reflection, relaxation, strategic thinking, doing those tasks you enjoy, catching up on more menial tasks or even taking time out to reconnect to colleagues.

I can assure you, as a result, you will feel reconnected with a level of enthusiasm to plow on.

My down time varies through the month. It really depends on the key moments or milestones. For example, the next morning after the monthly council meeting, I will undertake a range of minor tasks.

On Fridays of the other weeks, I will spend the day sorting out my office or working area, popping out for a hot chocolate and talking to local business, fueling up the car and catching up with the outside crews at the depot and so on. Of course, getting into the Christmas spirit or other celebration helps.

Last week, Linda popped in for a visit and said she had found the perfect Christmas ornament that is just like me 😂🤣😂

Understanding The Myth Of The Neat Office!

Should you have a neat and tidy office? Should it be organised? Should you use a fake backdrop during video conferencing?

When I started work, you had to be quiet, sit at your desk and weren’t allowed to talk. If you had an office, it had to be sterile, almost minimalist.

My office backdrop – neatish with a touch of fun 🏴‍☠️🏴‍☠️🏴‍☠️ Many would frown at this, but when I’m on a video conference with other CEOs it’s a good talking point…

The war regarding the organised office space has been on the agenda ever since Prince Albert introduced the concept of being organised to Britain.

So, here we are some 170 years later.

We now exist in a world where the work environment is wide ranging. Many employees even have a say in what the office space should be.

The personalised work space has evolved on the back of the rise of leadership in the workplace. Of course, COVID has also contributed significantly to how the workplace should (or should not be).

The question now is – should the work space be organised?

We all work differently

I mentioned in a post several years ago, I can only work in an uncluttered environment. However, I am a reformed office hoarder. For many years, you would be lucky to find me under all the things piled up in my office.

I changed how I worked because it led to less stress, greater focus and ultimately, more productivity.

However, some people need clutter around them, and I am fine with that.

There are a number of rules when it comes to the uncluttered office

In order to work out what type of office or work space you need, answer the following:

Starting to gear up for Christmas 🎅 🎄 🤶
  1. Is where I work in the frontline, in the public or customer’s eye?
  2. Do others need to meet with me in my workspace on a regular basis?
  3. Is my work space a collaborative environment?
  4. Do I need my “tools of the trade” to be in close proximity to where I work?
  5. Do I work predominantly on my own?
  6. Is my work space for research eg scientific, medical purposes?

If you answered yes to questions 1, 2, 3, or 6 then your work area must be neat, tidy and well organised. However, you and your colleagues may agree to something else when it comes to question 3.

If you answered yes to questions 4 or 5, then it should be left up to you how that work space looks and utilised.

Of course some of us are lucky enough to work in the great outdoors.

However, there must be one rule applied, regardless of the workspace type: it must be safe.

Work environments were I live are highly regulated. If someone was to hurt themselves, even if tripping or falling over an object is looked at seriously.

Listening to Kim Beasley AC last week at the LG Professionals conference. Kim is the Former Leader of the Opposition (federal), former Ambassador to the US, and the former Governor of Western Australia. He is a great Australian and is from my hometown.

Have a Happy Halloween 👻🎃💀

From me to you – enjoy Halloween. We have had a lot of fun with it this year…

Vincent Price – The Master of all things Halloween

Enjoy…

The wonderful Vincent Price and his version of “The Monster Mash”

Ottmar Liebert – Isla del Sol

I have been meaning to share Ottmar Liebert’s Isla del Sol for a little while…

Thank you to Juan Vicente Carballeira for the video he created to go along with this delightful tune

So, today I am sharing “Isla del Sol,” a wonderful track for your enjoyment.

For those who don’t know, Ottmar Liebert is my all time favourite muscician. He personifies Nouveau Flamenco, his very own style, and one that bemused Paco at first, before his eventual acceptance.

My favourite version of Isla del Sol is included in the Complete Santa Fe Collection

Enjoy your Sunday…

Three Simple Rules For Preventing Burnout

During the last five months, I have made sure to follow my own advice!

Watching Homemade Love Story in the lounge room of the CEO’s house after working through a range of songs this afternoon

Keep your weekends work free

It doesn’t have to be the weekend per sae, as we all have different work patterns including when we get time off.

So, when you do have that break, reconnect with your downtime through closing the door, both mentally and figuratively on work.

It can take a little bit of getting used to, but when you do it will become second nature.

Ignore those emails

I know many of you will say this is impossible. However, when reconnecting with your weekends, it’s essential!

It’s exactly what I have done. The shire runs perfectly fine without me being there and plugging away at an email every five minutes – trust me on this 😊

Relish the simple things

What do I mean? Quite simple really – and I’m not telling you anything new here.

So, read that book, watch your favourite show, play some music, go out to lunch, visit a winery, talk to the neighbours, do some housework (😂), hang out with a loved one, friends or family, go to the beach, go to a party, visit a church or other gathering, take a walk in the park…

When you combine these three elements, an amazing thing happens – a relative calm, peacefulness, almost contentment

What more can I say 😉

Understanding The Tricky Business of Lobbying

Lobbying is a tricky business. At its heart is the need for a process to occur in the most transparent way possible…

Here I am discussing a key decision with the Acting Director General DWER at the recent CEOs and Government Department Heads Breakfast – Image courtesy of WALGA

In Korean dramas we usually see lobbying go on behind close doors, usually at a secluded restaurant. During the meeting, briefcases or empty boxes of fruit or fruit drinks are packed with money and distributed to each of the attendees cars, with the amount given dependent on rank.

Of course, in reality, lobbying is a professional and legitimate business that, when it enters the public arena, must meet certain standards, guidelines, a code of conduct or even legislation.

Each country has its own method to deal with lobbying. However, in general, the principles applied are the same. For example, under the Australian Code of Lobbying, two clear points are made:

  1. Lobbying is a legitimate activity and an important part of the democratic process. Lobbyists can help individuals and organisations communicate their views on matters of public interest to the Government and, in doing so, improve outcomes for the individual and the community as a whole.
  2. In performing this role, there is a public expectation that lobbying activities will be carried out ethically and transparently, and that Government representatives who are approached by lobbyists can establish whose interests they represent so that informed judgments can be made about the outcome they are seeking to achieve.

In hand with this understanding is a number of key processes that must be followed. Firstly, as a lobbyist, you must be registered with the appropriate authority. Secondly, you mustn’t be corrupt or involved in corrupt or illegal matters. Thirdly, you must be truthful. Finally, you must know your subject. In otherwords: You must be accurate with the information you provide. Know your facts!

Opening night at Local Government Week 2022 – Shire President, Cr Bantock, Deputy Shire President, Cr Clarke and Mrs Clarke, Linda and myself. Image courtesy of WALGA

In terms of what I do, I both lobby and in turn, I am the subject of lobbying

The Lobbyist

My role as a lobbyist is to meet with government department heads, government ministers and other public officers to discuss matters of common interest, matters of government policy or draft legislation and also funding opportunities.

Of course, my role is different to that of a normal lobbyist. As a local government CEO, I do not have to be registered, as I am already operating in the public arena. However, I must be truthful in whatever I do, and I always need to make sure I know exactly what I’m talking about.

The recent local government convention is the perfect place for lobbying to occur in an open and transparent way. It brings together key figures and in formats where transactions are public and also recorded.

On the receiving end

In turn, I’m constantly lobbied re decisions my staff or I have made or are likely to make, along with those of the local government council itself.

When faced with the above situation, I make it very clear to those who seek to lobby me where the boundary is. The concept here is one of where I must be neutral. I cannot take sides, because I must at all times make even handed decisions or provide balanced advice. I cannot favour one position or party over another. The advice I provide must be based on the merits of the situation.

Gifts must be declared publicly – the value and who it is from. Failing to declare who the gift is from is the issue, not the value of the gift received

Then, there is the matter of gifts.

Gifts are allowed regarding what I do. Anything over $300 is considered a gift and must be declared and registered. There is no upper limit.

However, in the situation where a company or other body that has previously provided me a gift and requires a strategic decision from council, I must seek permission to provide said advice regarding that company.

The advice in the first instance is by way of an agenda item (a report that is voted on by the council). I can then give further verbal or written advice, if it is needed. This means the advice is on the public record because it will then be recorded in the minutes of the council meeting and/or via video recordings/live streaming and also listed in the publicly available gift register.

If the gift received is between $300 – $1,000, council can make the decision itself re whether I provide it with advice or not. This decision must be recorded in the minutes of a council meeting. If the gift is over $1,000, then I must seek permission from the Minister for Local Government in order to provide advice. Now imagine that scenario happening in a Kdrama or a Hollywood blockbuster!

Breakfast with Justin Langer – Image courtesy of WALGA

The bottom line – integrity matters!!!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, and Truth Works

A post today that means the world to me!

A snapshot with JL on Tuesday. One of us has put on a bit of weight and aged a bit – I’m sure you can work out who.

I have been at what is referred to as local government week since last Sunday. On Tuesday, Linda and I attended a breakfast with Justin Langer (JL) until earlier this year, Australian Cricket Coach, one of the great players in the history of the game and all round top bloke.

JL right from the top said: “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.” To paraphrase he said – I’m saying this to everyone in the room because I know that thanks to those in local government isn’t all that forthcoming.

He went on to comment further – here we are in Western Australia, and I’m just a boy from Duncraig (which is the suburb next to where I live). I have lived and played all over the world, but what you have achieved for Western Australia, through building breathtaking communities is amazing. There is nothing else like it.

Justin, is quite simply, a true leader. He is will known for his humanitarian values. He shared his philosophy on what it means to lead:

  • Work out the recipe for your situation. His nana never mixed up her cake recipes – why? because she worked out what combination of ingredients works best;
  • Truth Works (something JL picked up from the Dalai Lama). Need I say more!;
  • Stay focused. If you don’t stay focused, you will get hurt. Justin picked people from the audience to demonstrate key moments when he was hurt during key cricket matches. These are well documented on the internet!
  • Pay attention to who you are talking to. Treat every person you meet as if they are the only person in the room – he learnt this when introduced to the late Queen;
  • Read Romans 5 – As Archbishop Desmond TuTu said to JL in response to his question on how do you know you have made the right choice.

Afterwards, as Linda was taking a million photos of JL and I, we got to have a chat, which was awesome. I mentioned that Mark McPhee was my cricket coach way back when. Justin said to me: “he had the most infectious laugh, he was a great human being and it was so sad when he passed away. I took his great mate, Geoff (Swampy) Marsh to the AFL grand final this year.”

For those who don’t know, Geoff Marsh and Mark were best friends. Geoff was a great opening batsman for both WA and Australia and walked away from the role of Australia’s cricket coach, with Mark’s passing.

Sometimes, the pain is too hard to bear.

Mark (Mex) used to train, Laney, Barney, Carlo and I along with the rest of the motley crew at the WACA indoor cricket nets during winter. One night, Mark said to me – Sean you’re an opening batsman, so I’m going to crank up the cricket ball machine to West Indian pace!

After the first two balls, he asked if I was going to play a shot. I replied to Mex, well I would if I could see the ball. I won’t mention the laugh from my club mates nor from some other notable cricketers in the room.

Anyway, with the third ball, needless to say, I got in behind it, except it whacked me on the right index finger, and despite wearing batting gloves, my finger was a bit of a mess. Anyway, when I got home (a big thanks to Laney), Linda was like – well, nothing new then, in otherwords, do we have to go to the hospital yet again 😂

On Saturday is our daughters wedding

So, it’s been an awesome week. A chat with JL, I met the Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia, listened to Joint Australian of the year – Dr Richard Harris, who was part of the Thai Cave dive rescue team, dodged the Frozen hordes at the Crown Convention Centre, attended the wedding rehearsal and dinner, and put the finishing touches to the song Tony and I will be playing at the wedding 😊😊😊

Why Space Exploration Matters – My Personal Journey This Week

This week I got to meet with the team responsible for running and expanding the European Space Agency (ESA) station at New Norcia (Yarrawindah)!

Approaching the New Norcia station, DSA-1 (Deep Space Antenna 1) which hosts a 35-metre deep-space antenna with transmission and reception in both S- and X-band. DSA-1 is designed for communicating with deep-space missions and provides support to spacecraft such as Mars Express, Rosetta and Gaia for routine operations.

Ever since I was six years old, I have been fascinated by the universe, the stars and our solar system and space travel itself. Now, I have become a little part of our planet’s journey in understanding the importance of the cosmos, the trips to Mars and beyond and dealing with satellites, asteroids and space junk.

What’s happening at Yarrawindah?

There is no doubt in my mind that ESA is a leader regarding understanding space, it’s opportunities, the external threats to Earth (both cosmos and man made) and how we can preserve our environment.

Here is my up close and personal shot of DSA-1. The dish is 35 metres across. At this point, Suzy, the station manager asked if I would like to take a look inside and then take a view from the observation deck. How could I say no!

ESA, in conjunction with CSIRO, has a tracking station just south of New Norcia. The expansion project there is also supported by the Australian Space Agency.

The site project manager Wayne invited myself, the Shire President and my principal building surveyor to discuss ESA operations and projects across the globe, progress regarding the construction of the new dish at Yarrawindah, commencement of ground works for the Bio-Mass project and the possibility of some other exciting projects to come.

During our site visit on Friday, we got to see the operations room and discuss the team’s involvement in ESA space launches and the tracking of the smashing of the NASA satellite – DART into the Dimorphos Moonlet Asteroid on Monday. At this point I had all those visions of those iconic scenes from disaster movies and tv shows. I was totally drawn in.

Looking out over the construction site for the $70M new space antenna. The ground works are nearing completion. The construction of the new antenna has commenced through making the key structures on site.

The Race for Space

Leadership is as much about vision as it is about leading others. To be a leader, you must back yourself despite all the self doubts that occur. The race for space is as much about the test of leadership as it is about being responsible cosmic citizens. People are starting to understand that looking after the earth is an important foundation to our future role out there amongst the stars.

Currently, the space race is dominated by both government agencies and The Space Barons (Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos). Unlocking the mysteries of space and exploring the opportunities for colonisation have taken on proportions greater than finding a treasure ship. There are, as Mathew Lynn points out, two opportunities here for the barons: firstly the business opportunities being involved in space exploration and secondly technology is making space exploration affordable.

So, what is my involvement with these very important global projects? In short, I lead the local government in this region responsible for approving all building projects within the district, including the ESA/CSIRO projects. Understanding the purpose of such sites and the method of construction along with the technology used is critical when it comes to granting the correct level of approvals. Not only that, my focus is on making such approvals happen as quickly as possible.

At the end of the day, I’m very lucky to get to see, from head to toe, such facilities and be provided with information that a handful of people are privy to.

Other Information

A photo taken during our search for wildflowers in the Rica Erickson Reserve on Thursday, the National Day of Mourning for the late Queen

The New Norcia ground station is one of three deep space stations in the European Space Agency (ESA)’s tracking station network; the other two are located in Cebreros, Spain and in Malargüe, Argentina.

In addition to supporting ESA missions, the station provides tracking support to scientific and interplanetary missions operated by other space agencies like NASA and Japan’s JAXA under resource-sharing agreements.

The Biomass Project

The Biomass mission will provide crucial information about the state of our forests and how they are changing.

Literally every tree and piece of bush across the globe will be recorded by dedicated satellites for this purpose.

The data will be used to further our knowledge of the role forests play in the carbon cycle. Biomass will also provide essential support to UN treaties on the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

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