3 reasons why talking to your team can help you build a stronger organisation


Hi, my name’s Neil Poynter, and welcome to “The Leadership Soapbox.”

Now this week, I’m asking a question. And some of you might’ve seen my little video that I put out on LinkedIn last night, and it was really about why we need to be talking to our people right now. And I really want to ramp into this in this video with three reasons why I think right now we need to be talking to our people even more than we have done before.

Reason one, and this is really picking up on what I said last night in the small video. There’s one of my other videos way back where I talk about this question, what support does my team need from me? And I’d been reading or actually listening in the car to Stephen Covey’s “Eighth Habit. And he talks about the fact that we’re in this information age, that we’re now working with knowledge workers. We’re not in the Industrial Age. We’re in the Information Age. And it suddenly occurred to me and he actually talked on the video, an er moment or an aha moment. But actually, this was a duh moment. And I was thinking, “Hang on, what support does my team need from me?” Well, there’s a very simple solution here, isn’t it? Go and ask my people what support do you need from me.

So here’s the first thing. Let’s go and ask our people what support they need because they’re the people at the front line. They are the people who are doing the work, making the objects, making the phone calls, having contact with the clients. So right now, we’re saying this, what support do they need? Go and ask them. Now that’s going to have a spinoff effect into reason three which I’ll come back to.

So that’s the reason one. What support do they need? Ask them.

Reason two, and I think this is very specific to what we’re in at the moment.

A client of mine that I was talking with a month or so ago was saying how difficult it is to predict what’s going to happen in the marketplace at the moment. And that’s because there is no data. No data that we have for the months of March, or April, or May coming up going back over the years is valid at the moment because we have such a huge player in the context of the world at the moment with COVID that everything that’s happened previously just doesn’t really come to bear. So who knows what is going to happen?

Well, I’ll tell you who knows, the people who are having contact with our clients. The people who are doing things. The people who can go out and ask the questions. What’s going on, how are you going to be responding? What are you doing?

Now more than ever is a time for human intelligence. And by intelligence, I don’t mean thinking power. I mean information gathering and assessment. I mean intelligence as in MI5, CIA. That sort of intelligence, intelligence gathering. Gathering information and analysing it for what it means. But we’ve got to go out and gather that information. And the people who will be able to gather that information right now are the people who are doing the jobs. Your service engineers, your customer service people, your salespeople, your representatives. Those people who are out there seeing things, and doing things, and talking with our clients, and talking with the people we work with are the people who are going to understand it.

So that’s reason two. We need to know what’s going on.

Now reason three…

We’re talking about engaging with our people. Well, if we engage with our people in this way, it’s going to create more engagement. And that’s that they will feel listened to. They will feel more wanted. They will feel more valued. Now if you go and have a look at my videos on building morale, you’ll see that the important- I think it’s in video one of that set, that people feeling valued is critical, absolutely critical to them feeling that they feel good about what they’re doing, that they want to do this.

So if we are asking them what they need and they see that actually we try to put it into practice, and also we’re interested in what’s going on in their area and that we are listening to their information, they’re going to feel more valuable. That’s going to get better performance from them just because they feel more involved, they feel more important. And this is something that is so important and so many organisations miss out on.

So there’s three reasons why you need to be asking your people what’s going on and what support do you need? Three really strong reasons.

And here’s the other thing. I want to ask you what support can I give you? Coaching, is there any mentoring? Can I help with your organisation?

What support do you need from me?

I’m going to put up some questionnaires this week about this around LinkedIn and perhaps if I can find other ways of doing it. But what do you need from me? And what support can you give other people in your organisation?

Don’t just think about it for your people by the way. Think about it sideways. Think about your colleagues.

So here’s the theme. Let’s communicate, let’s talk to one another. Let’s find out what one another need. Thanks very much, I’ll speak to you soon.

How to behave to be a good leader


Hi, my name is Neil Poynter and welcome to the Leadership Soapbox.

What I’m talking about this week is our behaviour as leaders, does it matter?

And if it does matter, how do I know what to do? How do I build that? Why do I need to worry about it?

Okay. So let’s start from the beginning.

Does it matter?

The simple answer is yes. How you behave, how we behave as leaders has a massive impact on the people who we are responsible for, who are in our teams, who are in our departments.

But why does it matter?

Okay. Let’s start digging into this and I’m going to give you a bit of theory here. I’m going to come from two angles here.

Steven Covey in his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by the way, really good book. If you’ve never got into personal development and you are scratching around the surface and wondering which way to go, big hint, have a look at that book.

He talks about the difference between being principle centred and personality centred. And personality centred he talks about being driven by fads the latest tool, there must be a new way of doing things that will make me better.

What he means by the principle focus is there are certain inalienable principles about the way in which we operate. And there are some principles here for leaders. People want to be able to follow us. They like a good leader. They like someone they can get behind.

Now, what is it that actually allows people to do that? Well cuts to the 1980s and a book, “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes and Posner, in it, there’s some research. And they, I’ll cut through how they did it. But what they ended up with was a list of the key characteristics that people wanted in their leaders.

Nothing perhaps new there. What was new was that they kept on repeating that research over a few decades. The top four principles or characteristics never changed and there was about a 14 to 20% gap between fourth and fifth. So these four core principles have stood the test of time. Now I’m going to get rid of the fourth, third and second first.

Forward-looking, inspiring, and competent. Now I’m probably going to pick these up in another video but the one I want to talk about is the one that has come top of that list of desirable characteristics for leaders for over 30 years now. You probably can guess where we’re going here. And coming in at around 82 to 84%, so that’s the number of people who have put it in their list of key characteristics, and it dwarfs everyone else. Second place is 66%. So this is figuring in 20% more of people’s lists. It’s honesty.

People want honesty.

Now they then did some research into what that meant. What it is, very simply, is that people do what they say. They live by their words. They are seen to be what they espouse to be. And that’s very much tying back into what Steven Covey said about being principled.

If I go to my experience in the army, being at Sandhurst as an instructor at Sandhurst, the importance of leading by example, of doing what you ask others to do, or that you set a standard, you live by it yourself. It’s more than just that though. We have to know what we believe in.

And one of the things I wanted to spark for people today is perhaps that desire to find out what your own principles are.

What do you believe in?

What are the things that are important to you?

What are those core beliefs around what is important?

Now, what we’re doing here we’re now touching onto what I’d call emotional intelligence. Self-awareness. Knowing where I come from in myself. And this I think is a key facet of any leader and manager. We know where we’re coming from. We know what we believe in. We’re clear about our own principles and values about how we’re going to operate. I think it’s also about facing up to when we make a mistake and having the moral courage to stand in front of our people and go, “I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have done that.” To apologise.

We are after all human. But what this allows us to do if we know where we’re coming from, if we know our values, if we know our principles, it allows to behave in a truly authentic way. And when we’re authentic, everything in this lines up. And you know when someone’s being authentic. Their body language, their voice, everything about them is joined up and you just feel it. And you may not agree with what they’re saying but you feel their authenticity.

So that’s about, that’s what this is all about. What are your values? What are your principles? What is it that drives your behaviour and how can you perhaps be even more authentic as a leader at work or in your organisation?

Okay, that’s it for today. You know, let’s have a discussion about this. What do you think are the key values and characteristics of a leader?

Do you believe that we can be honest all the time? That’s an interesting debate point.

Now, if you’ve liked the video, please hit the like or subscribe. Let’s have a conversation. The email’s at the top there. And if I can help in any way, what would you like to develop in your own leadership? How would you like to develop your own authenticity? Get in contact and let’s have a conversation about how I can help. Thanks very much for listening.

Why good leadership isn’t about making you successful.


Hi, my name’s Neil Poynter and welcome to The LEADERSHIP SOAPBOX. Now this week’s episode, the title is leadership: It’s nothing to do with you.

Hmm What do I mean by that?

Well, what I mean is it’s nothing to do with making yourself successful. It’s nothing to do with what you get out of it. It’s all about others.

And the reason why I’m doing this one this week is that someone asked me, well, why do you believe in all this? What’s this all about? Where did it come from? So I was thinking about that and I realised that this is what I passionately believe in.

So where does it come from? If I go way… back in time to the dim and distant past, when I was a very young lieutenant in the army and I’m talking 19, 20, 21, 22, not 1920, but being 19, 20, 21, 22 years old. And my four troop staff sergeants who led me through those years. So there’s Mike Ballard, who really took the brunt of it Steve Smith, George Henry Slade and Bob McNeil.

And… what I learned very quickly was that I was never ever the technical expert at what was going on. There was always someone in the troop or in the organisation, who knew more about the technical aspects of what we were doing. So what was my job, if I’m not there to tell them what to do, what am I to do? What am I there for? Right? And this is what I learned really quickly. My job was to get them in the right place at the right time, with the right kit, with the right support and everything else they needed, in order to do their job as well as possible.

In other words, my job was to make them successful.

It was to give them the environment where they could go and be successful at what they needed to be good at.

Now here’s the thing. If they were successful, we were successful. And that’s the point of leadership.

I’ve realised that this is what it’s all about. I don’t care if you are leading a team of three or four, or you’re leading an organisation of 50,000. Our job… is to create an environment where that group of people can be successful and the organisation can be successful. And it’s that fundamental. It’s that basic.

And so we need to be asking this question in our head, what support does my team need? Now it’s not just about our team, because it’s about also making our customers successful.

So this was something I really learnt in the engineers, in the army. I was nothing, we were nothing. If we didn’t create the environment for our customers to be successful because that was our job. If I didn’t have the right bridge in the right place at the right time, the people who were using that bridge couldn’t be successful. So unless I produced what my client needed from me. I wasn’t doing my job. So again, my role had nothing to do with making me successful. It had everything to do, with making others successful.

And I think this is absolutely fundamental to our role. How can we make others successful?

Now, if we make everybody else in our organisation and team really successful at what they do. Guess what… You are going to be successful.

But here’s the point, that’s not the focus.

The focus is on making other people successful. Be it our clients, be it people in our team. It doesn’t matter. That’s where our focus needs to be.

Now if we focus there, success is going to come. But that’s our focus.

Now, the other reason why I passionately believe in this is that from what I’ve seen of organisations of all shapes and sizes, I don’t care how good your kit is, I don’t care how good your technology is. If your people are not motivated, well-led, well supported, well-directed, and don’t have all the resources they need at the right place at the right time, you will not succeed.

So this is what it’s all about to me. But if I go back to those early days, how can I help others be successful?

How can I create an environment, where my team can be as successful as possible?

Because that is what this is all about. So, there you go. Do you agree with me?

Do you think there’s more to it? I mean, I know I am talking down at a very base core level here, but I really passionately believe that’s what the case is. So let’s have a discussion about it, email’s up here, get in contact with me. And also if you’d like to talk to me about that and perhaps how I can help you and your organisation be successful, then please get in contact with me and let’s have a discussion about how I can help.

So Neil pointer, LEADERSHIP SOAPBOX, and I look forward to seeing you again next week.

It’s time to act – what to do after making a leadership decision.


Hi, my name’s Neil Poynter.

And welcome to this week’s episode of The Leadership Soapbox.

If you’re new here, you’re very welcome. You catch us in part four of my series on decision-making in my Stop, Think, Act series. And in part three last week, we actually made the decision. So you might be going “well, what is there left to do?” Well, now we come to the act.

And if we think about it, the whole reason we make decisions is to drive action. Either we’re going to do something or we’re not going to do something, but something is now going to change. Something has got to happen, or else there was no point in us going through that whole decision-making process.

So decisions are all about driving action. So really they just facilitate this last piece which is the act.

So in this piece, I want to divide this up into three bits, the when, the what and the who and these three questions that you need to ask yourself right now, as soon as the decision is made, what actions do you now need to take?

So let’s start having a think about it. I mentioned when, first of all, okay, this is critical. I think on almost every single one of these videos time has come into this in some way.

When do we need to act?

We’ve made the decision, okay. When does the first thing that’s going to happen as a result of this decision? When do we actually start this project or whatever it is, we’ve decided, when’s it going to start? How long have we got between now and when it gets going because that is going to dictate everything.

Everything is going to come down to the time available. How much time I can spend planning, how much time we can spend consulting about things. You know, all of that is now all going to be driven by time.

So let me give you a little tool that’s taught in the army and it’s called the one-third, two-thirds rule. So let’s say we have something that we’re going to launch. A mission to build a bridge or whatever it was in three days time. Okay, if we’re going to actually start the operation or start the project. In three days, time, I am going to use one-third of that time for my activity and allow two-thirds of that available time for everybody else.

So, one-third of the time for me and my team to do our whatever it is we need to do and we’ll come to that in a moment. And then two-thirds of the available time is available to those other people in the cascade of information to do what they need to do.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t communicate anything at all right now, right up the front and I want to say this in the when because as soon as we know this decision what I want to do is to communicate that decision to those people who need to know that comes into the who in a minute, but why?

Because they can start what we would have called in the army concurrent activity. People can start thinking about what it is that we’re going to be doing. They can start thinking through, they can start some of their preliminary planning without having all the details from us right now. Now we can give them as much as we can. So it would give them a sort of outlined scope with some critical information on it that allows them to start their planning. Meanwhile, we get into our detailed planning.

So the when, is absolutely critical everything that now happens. And I can’t emphasise that enough, know your timings, be aware of the time and how long you’ve got at the end of the decision. Okay? So that’s the when.


Now I’ve already mentioned two things, communication and planning. Okay, communication, communication, communication in any big project or anything that we’re doing make sure that we are communicating. And we, that first communication needs to go out as soon as the decision is made, as early as you possibly can, let’s get the information out there so that people can start acting on it.

Also planning, okay. We all know the seven P’s. Prior, preparation and planning prevents poor performance. Fail to plan, plan to fail, you know, all those old cries. The decision may have been about what are we going to do? We may not have yet gone into the how are we going to do it.

Now, of course, there’s a whole nother series of decisions. Stop, Think Act but we need to get into our planning process. Well, go back to the, when, how long have I got available, for my planning one-third, two-thirds but we need to start our planning.

What is the activity that needs to happen in order to launch this? Whatever it is, this decision on time, absolutely critical.

We then come to the who.

Who needs to know, who are the people who are going to be impacted by this?

Who are your stakeholders?

If we’re talking project management terms who are the stakeholders who now need to get involved or be told, be informed of what the decision is. And I said about being involved, we may now want to convene a planning team to get together to start the detailed planning. So who do we need involved? Who needs to be informed? Who are the stakeholders, who are critical now that they are updated as to what the decision is and how do we move forward?

So actually we’re talking about decision-making and let’s wrap this up now, all four parts we’ve been talking about decision-making but decision-making is just part of an activity cycle that goes from idea to decision, to planning, to execution. And so we go round, this is all part of a project thinking but it’s also part of our daily work.

And we need to be thinking about it. Now, I hope that set of videos has been useful. This is something I’m perhaps going to expand into a course.

And if you’re interested in some training around decision-making, then let me know. You know, if you pass this on to your bosses or whoever you is, you know, you think needs to know this but what would be the impact on your business if people were making better decisions?

Let’s have a conversation about it. And I’d be very interested to hear where people think this all of this Stop, Think, Act can be applied. Brent, I hope that’s been useful. Click, like, subscribe. If you want to catch up with some other stuff. I think next I’m going to start talking a bit about influencing. As some people have been asking me about that with stakeholders and particularly in projects, I’m perhaps going to go into that area. Anyway, hope you’ve enjoyed that stop, think, act decision-making process, and I’ll speak to you soon.

More from Stop, Think, Act the decision-making series

Decision making part 1 – Stop

Decision making part 2 – Think part 1

Decision making part 3 – Think part 2

Decision making part 4 – Act

How to have multiple options to choose from when making decisions


So, hi, everyone. My name’s Neil Poynter, and welcome to this week’s episode of The Leadership Soapbox. It’s March already, how did that happen?

Okay, here we go. So we’re in Stop, Think, Act still, up here, and we’re onto episode three and the second part of the think.

So, very quick reprise, stop, make sure we’re engaged, consciously engaged, system two thinking. And how long have I got to make this decision?

Part one of the think, context, clarity, criteria. Context, do I understand the situation? Clarity, can I write down what the decision is that I’m actually having to make and does it make sense to me? And the criteria, what are the criteria that are going to impact this decision and going to make it a good one?

Okay, so now let’s get into think part two. This is where, on the basis of my understanding, I’m now going to collect options for my decision. So if I’m going on holiday, where did we want to go? Roughly, how much do we want to spend? What sort of activities do we want?

We’ve got our criteria and we understand the decision we’re making. Right, so how do we collect these options?

First of all, do you remember, back in the stop video, I mentioned your intuitive thought about how to do it or what we should do? Right, there’s your first option that you pull in, okay? We’ve got an option there, let’s use it. Great.

Option two, the way we always do it. Now, if this is a business decision, is this something that we do as standard? Well, here’s our opportunity to challenge it. Is it still our best option? Is it the way we want to do it? Or is there something better we can do? But let’s pull it in, option two.

Also, now is the time to get creative. Where’s that wacky idea? Where’s that new way? Where’s that idea we had a few months ago about doing things differently? Okay, let’s pull that in here. So that gives us perhaps another option.

What we’d want to avoid is only having one or two options. I would like to have three or four options about the way I can go about doing this.

Another thing that we can do here, get the team involved. If there’s going to be a team of people who are going to deliver this, or who it’s going to impact, let’s get them involved now.

Let’s speak to perhaps wider stakeholders. What’s going to work for them? So we need to get options. And also, this is with the team, with the stakeholders, this is an opportunity to generate buy-in. Especially if they’re inside our organisation, it gives them skin in the game. They’re part of the decision-making process. They are part of coming up with the idea and the plan. Okay? So very important.

Now, the final point about our options is that they need to meet our criteria. So those criteria that we set in part two, do our options match those criteria?

Now, the one exception I’ll say here is if you’ve got one that might absolutely blow the rest of the field away as an option, but there’s one area that it’s out of bounds on. It might cost a little bit more, or it might be a little bit slower, or something. So all your options should match your criteria. But perhaps you’ve got an outlier to bring in to challenge things.

If we’re talking project management, this is about cost, quality, and time. You know, what’s our priority? Do these options match the cost quality and time constraints?

Now, the one thing that I’m going to warn about right now is that if we go into lots of consultation and a really big search, this is going to take time. Remember, our decision must be timely. I’d rather have an 80% right solution on time than one that’s way too late, or too late and we lose the opportunity, or it’s gone, okay?

So we need to have that, remember, from part one, how long have we got to make this decision? And your process has to match that.

So we’ve got our options. Great. Now we have to evaluate them. Now, up until now in this, we can be quite creative. So we’ve gone from creativity, now we need to get into objectivity. We need to be quite objective about this. We need to analyse and evaluate our options against our criteria. Is it in cost? Does it have all the things we need?

Now, there’s various ways of doing this. We can have a strengths versus weaknesses table, pluses versus minuses, or we can construct a table where we score each option against each criteria, or out of 10, and we give them a score. Whatever it is, we need some method of evaluating the options, and it needs to be as objective as we possibly can be. Again, get the team involved at this stage. Can we get the team helping rate the options?

Finally, we’ve got to make the decision, haven’t we? Yeah, okay, so we’ve got the one that’s come top of our evaluation. Does it feel right though? Just an emotional warning. If you’re getting a gut feel that it’s not the right one, why? What have we missed? Is there some piece of information in this that is missing? Have we missed a criteria? Now’s the time to check. Is that decision, is that final option, the one that sort of come top, is it our best option? Is it the one that’s going to deliver for us?

And then finally, we’ve got to make that decision, or recommendation to whoever it is that we’re going to do.

Now, final point, this is not the end of it, because we’ve now got to act. I’m going to do that in part four, but this is far from over, because if this is an important decision, we now have to act on it. We now have to do something.

We now have to take it through and deliver on it in whatever way is important. So that’s part four and that’ll be next week. So have you got something you can apply this to now?

It would be great to hear from you, so comments below, either on LinkedIn, or if this is on YouTube, or wherever you’re seeing it. I’d really like to hear how you can apply this and what you think and about how you do things in your decision-making.

So that’s it from me for part three. I’ll see you in part four next week. And thanks very much for listening.

More from Stop, Think, Act the decision-making series

Decision making part 1 – Stop

Decision making part 2 – Think part 1

Decision making part 3 – Think part 2

Decision making part 4 – Act

What to think about first when making a decision


Hi everyone my name’s Neil Poynter and welcome to this week’s episode of, The Leadership Soapbox. And today, we’re following on from last week’s Stop Think Act part one, and this is Stop Think Act part two.

So we’re into decision-making. Now you’re going to have to excuse me. I get a bit passionate about this particular one because it’s something very close to my heart.

So we’re going in now to the first part of the think.

Now the Think part of Stop Think Act breaks into two parts.

The second part is where we look at our options, that will solve or possibly solve our problem or make our decision work, and then we make our decision.

But before we can do that, before we can do that we have to make sure that we understand, the full ramifications of everything that’s going on here.

Now, understanding, if you look at it in the dictionary if you break down what it means, is about insight into the problem and then the foresight about what it means. It’s not just, Oh yeah I understand. So I’m going to break understanding down for you. I’m going to break this into three parts, which is three Cs. Hey, I had to make an acronym, didn’t I?

So the first one is context.

Do I understand why this is happening? What’s the background? Who’s asked for it? Why is it important? What’s the outcome going to affect? What’s the real deep background and situation for perhaps both sides here? If it’s a client or, why are we as an organisation trying to do this? where does it fit? Where does it fit in the strategy? How does it help the organisation move forward? I have to have that situational understanding as to why this is happening. Why am I doing this? Why am I making this decision? Is it important? Does it, actually should I be making the decision? Is it actually important enough?

But we have to understand the context. So that’s part one.

Part two: Do I have clarity, as to the actual decision I’m making?

Right, here’s a test. Can you write it down? Can you write down in a couple of short sentences, what the decision is that you are making? Where are we going on holiday next year? Okay, cool. What about when, what about what type of holiday? Okay. So we might need a bit more granularity in it but a couple of sentences, what is the decision you are making?

Now, another test: when you read it, does it still make sense? The reason I say this, is that I was doing some research into decision-making and how people do it, a few years ago now. And what I found was that people would come to me with a decision, and I’d write the decision as they said it up on a flip chart. The number of people who as soon as I’d done that looked at it and went, “Oh, no, that’s not right. That’s not actually it.” I mean a significant percentage. Huh! So write it down. Look at it and go, does that still make sense? Does that look like, sound like, feel like the actual decision that I need to be making right now. If you’re not sure, test it with your boss or whoever else is around. But we need to make sure that we’re answering the exam question. You remember that from school? Make sure you answer the question. Well have we got the question right?

Okay, so that’s part two: clarity.

Part three, third C: Criteria.

Now this in itself breaks into two. What are the criteria that are going to help you, make your decision? So for instance, even if we were picking next year’s holiday if of course we can all go on holiday next year cost may come into it. Alright. What’s your cost criteria? Do you have a bracket? Okay, There’s a criteria within which when we come to selecting our options, clearly an option has got to sit inside.

Okay, so we might have the decision-making criteria. Now the other set of criteria that might come in here, are how the success of your decision is going to be judged. Do you know who is going to judge the success and how they’re going to look at it? Is it speed? Is it cost? Is it quality? What is it? Project managers will be familiar with that cost quality time triangle, the eternal triangle. What does the client want? How are you going to be judged? How is your decision-making going to be judged, at the end of this and by who? Who are your stakeholders in this decision? We need to be clear on that now.

So, first of all, context make sure we understand the background.

Two, clarity of the decision. Do we really understand the decision that we’ve been asked to make here? Can we write it down?

Three, what are your criteria? Now, here’s a trick. If you are in the fast decision-making game, the only way you can make fast decisions, is by maintaining your understanding on an ongoing basis.

Now, I can talk to people about that if that’s of more interest but I don’t want to drag this video out but just think about it, you might need to have a plan, for how you gather information on an ongoing basis, in order that you can continually make rapid decisions. Because this is the part that if we do it properly occupies time. So, there we go. There’s our understanding, context, clarity, criteria.

Okay. Been really interested to hear what your thoughts are on that, send me an email up here. leave me a comment down below, few it’s LinkedIn, send me a message or something there but I’d be really interested and how does this impact you?

Because this is, I think, one of the fundamentals in making really good decisions. Do we understand the decision and really understand the decision that we’re actually making?

Okay, thanks very much everybody, looking forward to seeing you next week, when we’ll get into those options, how do we pick them and how we going to make that final decision? Great.

See you soon. Bye bye.

More from Stop, Think, Act the decision-making series

Decision making part 1 – Stop

Decision making part 2 – Think part 1

Decision making part 3 – Think part 2

Decision making part 4 – Act

How to make a decision as a leader that your staff will get behind


Hi, my name’s Neil Pointer, And welcome to this week’s episode of The Leadership Soapbox. And today, we’re going to start talking about decision making.

I think decision making is probably the fundamental tool, and the basis of good management and leadership. If we can’t make decisions, it doesn’t matter how good a communicator we are, doesn’t matter how good a monitor of progress we are, if we can’t make decisions based on what’s going on, we’re in trouble.

So we’ve got a big decision to make. Where do we start?

Well, I think we start by recognising that we have a decision to make. And that we have an opportunity to make a decision. Now, you’re seeing the acronym that I come up with, or my little saying, stop, think, act. And I’ll put it across the top of the screen here.

What I’m going to talk about today is the importance of the stop. Because I want myself, I want my body, my brain, in decision-making mode. Now that might sound a little strange to you. But there’s a very good book, Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. And in it, he explores a lot of the processes that we use in decision making. But one of the things he introduces very, very early on is the idea of system one and system two thinking.

System one is your automated thinking. It’s the part of you that answers two times two. What’s the capital of France? And those are the two examples I think he gives in there. Now those are intuitive answers. I don’t need to involve any effort at all in finding the answer to them. The challenge is, is that a useful mode to be in when I’m making decisions? So what I’m saying we need to do is to, and Daniel talks about, is activating system two.

System two is what answers 17 times 42? That causes a response, ooh, and another part of the brain gets activated. It’s the part of you that can react to a starter’s gun, in a race. Or look for the person with the red hair. Those are all examples in the book he gives. That’s the part of my brain I want running when I’m making a decision. I want to be in control, I want to be calm, I want to be collected, and I want to be consciously engaged in what I’m doing. I don’t want automated processes running a really important decision.

Now, someone’s going to say, but what about intuition? To which I say, great, grab it, say thank you very much, and I’m going to use that later. I’m not going to leap to the intuitive answer. That’s not good decision making. Because I might be ignoring a whole load of things that intuition hasn’t paid any attention to. And also, unless I am a real expert in that zone, or in what I’m talking about, I don’t know if I can trust my intuition. I’ll explain that on another video.

So two things so far, I want system two thinking activated, I want to grab any intuition and just hold onto it. And the third part of the stop is that I want to answer some critical questions.

First of all, is this a decision for me to make? Is it in my pay grade, is it my responsibility? Or is there any reason why I can’t make this decision?

Secondly, and I think really importantly, how long have I got to make this decision? Is it a two minute, a two day, a two week, a two-month decision? How long have I got, what are the limitations on this decision that I need to make? I need to map this out, because this is going to impact my process. It’s going to impact how I go about doing it.

Having been in the army, I’ve been in the 22nd decision-making process, but I’m still making a decision. And I still need to be switched on to it.

Just to give you an example of that, I’ve just recently done some St John’s first aid training, as part of my vaccinator training. What’s the first thing you do when you approach the scene of an accident? You assess. You don’t rush in. Even the emergency services do not rush in. So, we want to take time. So how much time have I got?

Third question. Do I need to involve anybody else at this stage? Can I get the team involved, or is this just me, on my own? Excuse me. Now, here’s the critical thing, I need to stop. I need to engage my thinking processes. And then I’m in a really good position to go on and think. So, there’s the stop. I’ll be really interested to hear what you’ve got to say about that. Leave a comment below, get in touch with me. Email’s at the top corner here. Let’s have a think about this. What is good decision making, and how does it work for us?

Okay, brilliant, thank you very much. I’ll look forward to seeing you in my next video.

More from Stop, Think, Act the decision-making series

Decision making part 1 – Stop

Decision making part 2 – Think part 1

Decision making part 3 – Think part 2

Decision making part 4 – Act

Why we should trust our staff when they work from home


Hi, I’m Neil Poynter, and welcome back to part two of this two-part video series around trust and monitoring people at home.

So if you listened to part one, you’ll know where I’m going on this, but the idea is if we don’t trust people by monitoring them at home, what’s the impact?

Now, I want to give you three pieces of theory that back this up.

Now, the first place that I want to go on this is a bit of psychotherapy. Now, I work in the transactional analysis field of psychotherapy and that’s where my training is and we talk about ego states and the places people can occupy, is parent, adult, and child.

I can be in one of those three zones in the way I’m behaving and thinking. If I’m in adult, I’m grounded in the present. If I’m in parent, I’m adopting behaviours that I’ve learned from people in a parental type position. If I’m in child, I’m back in behaviours, thoughts, and feelings that I learned in childhood.

Now, let’s just think about where we want to communicate to our team from. I would put it to you that we very much want to be communicating to our team from adult to adult. Now, if I was going to draw this, and we’re going to go really high-tech here with this diagram. So we’ve got two people here. You can see P-A-C, P-A-C, parent, adult, child. It’s called the PAC Model for very obvious reasons.

Now, if I’m going to just add to this, okay? Where we want to be is not in parent, but adult to adult. So I’ve just drawn that on there. Adult to adult conversations. We want to be engaging across the middle.

Now, if I say to someone, “Yes, but we’re going to monitor you from home.” Now, I might try and dress that up as being from adult, but what’s the real message?

Now, in psychotherapy, we call this the ulterior message. Where am I really talking to? And the ulterior message is the one that hits home. So what are they going to hear? Well, I’ll put it to you that actually what they’re going to hear in this case is parent to child. They’re going to hear that message coming across. I don’t trust you. I might be dressing it up in adult, but actually it’s really that.

Now, if someone talks to us in child, how do we respond? Well, it can go one of two ways. Either we can really push back and go, “Whoa, hang on a minute.” Now, actually, where is that coming from? It’s probably going to be a highly emotional response, so were am I coming from? It’s quite likely to be an aggressive child back to the parent, and I’m going to kickback. So what we’re going to end up with is a communication that rather than being adult to adult, it’s now parent to child and back. And that’s going to set a tone, because are these people really going to produce their best performance for us if we’re in a parent to child relationship? No, especially if it’s not a rebellious child. If they’ve gone to a place of going, “Stuff you. I’m not going to behave like, I’m sorry, I’m not interested.”

And actually, or the adult goes, “Oh, I’m sorry I’m not being treated like an adult here. I don’t like this.” We’re not going to get the performance we want, okay?

So there is a really clear model here. I want adult to adult. How does an adult treat an adult? They’re trusting. This is what I need from you. How are you going to deliver? I’m going to do it like this. Okay, great. That’s what I propose here. Let’s not monitor people.

Okay, something else. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People want to feel good about themselves, okay? So once they’re part of the group, level three social, okay? So they’ve joined the organisation, they’re now part of us. The next stage up, level four, is all about feeling good about myself, about what I do. If I’m being told we’re going to monitor you, ooh, I’m going to question whether that’s going to help them get up to that place, okay?

We want to be affirming them. Going, “Great. Off you go. Let’s go. Let’s do this work.” So there’s a second piece. Let’s not go there.

Now, the third piece is what’s called McGregor’s X-Y theory, a brief introduction. This is one of the oldest pieces of leadership theory. And McGregor’s X-Y is the idea that you’re either an X type manager or a Y type manager and it’s all about what you believe, and therefore the behaviours that you display, and therefore what you get back. Now, if I’m an X type manager, what I believe is that people are out for themselves, they’re good for nothing, they’re looking to rip me off, and basically I don’t trust them.

Ooh-ooh, how am I likely to behave? I’m likely to behave, I’m going to monitor them, I’m going to keep an eye on them, I’m not going to trust them, I’m going to do lots of things to control them. Guess what behaviour I get back if I’m an X type manager? I’m going to get what I expect. And this is the whole point about McGregor’s X-Y theory, you get what you expect.

Now, the Y theory manager believes that people want to be engaged in something. They want to be a part of it. They want to contribute. They want to be actively involved in what’s going on. Now, okay, if I believe that about people, how do I behave? I trust them. I want them to be involved. I invite them in. I get them involved in what we’re doing. I don’t push them away.

Guess what I get? Guess what I get? Now, okay, there’s going to be the odd person who perhaps tries to take a flyer on me. Okay, we deal with it. But the vast majority are going to respond positively to this.

So my case here, three bits of theory. One, transaction analysis, the PAC Model. We want adult to adult, not parent to child, okay? Let’s have adult to adult conversations. Let’s trust people.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People want to feel good about themselves. I put it to you that not trusting them is not going to do that.

Thirdly, McGregor’s X-Y theory, if you don’t trust them, you will get behaviours that prove to you that you’re right. If you trust them, if you invest in them, if you believe in them, you’re going to get the behaviours that tell you you were right.

Okay, so this is really important. Let’s think about how trust, positive trust, is going to impact on the performance of our people, because I think this is just so important, especially now with this situation we find ourselves we. What we want in business is high performance. Monitoring people is not going to deliver you high performance.

Okay, that’s it. Let’s have a conversation about it. If you’ve liked this, please hit the Subscribe button, so you don’t miss any of the others. I’m aiming to get, from now on, one out per week and let’s see what we can have as a conversation. If you’re interested in taking this any further, neil@neilpoynter.com, and we’ll see where we go with this.

Thank you very much for watching and I look forward to getting your comments. Thanks.

Explore the series:

  • Building trust with work at home staff – video 1
  • Building trust with work at home staff – video 2

Is monitoring staff working at home a good idea?


Hi, my name’s Neil Poynter and welcome to the Leadership Soapbox.

For those of you who’ve been here before, welcome back. For those of you who are new viewers, you are very welcome. This is where I sometimes get on my soapbox about things, and I talk about things that matter to me, and I think are pertinent around leadership and management.

Today’s is one of those. I want to talk about something that’s really relevant to COVID, to where we find ourselves in the work situations that we’re dealing with now.

It’s caused and provoked by some news I saw last week that Microsoft are bringing out some new software for monitoring homeworking. I’ve got a real problem with this.

What’s the message that we are giving our people who are the people who go out and do wonderful work for us and make all the things happen? And I say to you, now you’re going to do remote working, you’re going to work from home. Now I’m going to monitor you. I think there’s a real problem in the message, if you like.

The underneath message that that sends, because what is it? I think it is, we don’t trust you. We don’t trust you to put the hours in, to do what we say, to be good employees.

So what’s the impact of us saying to people, we don’t trust you? I think we’re going to see a drop in performance. I don’t think we stand a chance of getting that real optimal performance that we would really like to get from our people.

If you look at all the studies around engagement, around motivation, one of the big things is you’re trusted, you’re empowered, we believe in you, we want you to go, go do it. Organisations that work on the basis of this is the result I want, how you do it is up to you.

And yet here we are in really testing circumstances, where people are feeling under pressure for loads of reasons. There’s looking after children, there’s looking after relatives, there’s the worry of the overall context. And yet we’re saying to them, we don’t trust you.

I have a real problem with that. Now, if you are in an organisation, that’s thinking of doing this, I want to challenge you about this and go please think about this and really don’t do it.

What I really want you to think about doing is going, we trust you, we want you to go away and work like this, and we believe in you. Now at the end of this video, there’s going to be a link onto another where I’m going to go into three bits of theory that really back this up. Okay?

First of all, there’s a psychotherapy model. Some of you will not know that I’m a trained psychotherapist. Well, there’s a piece of theory that really backs this up. I want them in adult. I don’t want them in child. I don’t want to talk to them as a parent. I want to talk to them as adults. Do I monitor them as adults? Hmm, interesting.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Are they going to feel good about themselves if I don’t trust them?

And then finally McGregor’s XY theory X theory manager, versus Y theory manager. I’m going to go into those on another video. But right now let’s just think about the impact of a message that says I don’t trust you. I think this is really key.

Now I’d love to hear your views on this. What are you doing? What do you think about this?

How do we develop an environment of trust, where we want people really performing at their highest level as much as possible giving us their best but at the same time we’re telling them we don’t trust them. I think this is critical, I think it’s vital that it’s something we think about before we go too far down this avenue of over monitoring them. Sure there’s a right amount, but is it monitoring how they do it or what they do?

There’s the jury let’s have a think, let’s have a chat about this. If you’d like to have a conversation about this neil@neilpointer.com, send me a comment below. Let’s have a conversation about it. What are you doing about it?

Let’s open this up to people and follow up, click on the link on to the next video, and I’ll tell you more about it there. But let’s just think about this. What are the benefits of really developing trust?

Thank you very much. I’ll see you in the next video.

Explore the series:

  • Building trust with work at home staff – video 1
  • Building trust with work at home staff – video 2

Leadership during COVID


Hi, my name is Neil Poynter and welcome back to The Leadership Soapbox.

This time what I want to talk about is what we’re all going through at the moment, COVID. I want to talk about the impact, I want to talk about what we’re seeing and I want to talk about what we as leaders need to perhaps be doing right now.

So let’s just step back from this for a moment and think about what we are all going through. I am seeing and hearing lots of people now starting to suffer from some form of fatigue from this. There’s a lot of people who are feeling the pressure of the environment, of the loneliness, of the change in the way in which we are working and living. And this is I think now starting to really impact on people.

So there’s two aspects to this that I want to particularly pick up on and I want to touch on a bit of theory here because I think we can bring some stuff into this that we can learn from.

So the first one I’m looking at and I’m seeing is an impact on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Now, if you understand Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or if you don’t rather, there’s five levels of need.

First one is physiological that’s food, water and air. Second is safety and protection, we need to feel secure. Third one is social need, we are a social animal. Fourth need is self esteem. We need to feel good about ourselves, about what we do about where we are, what we provide and fifth level is self fulfillment that we grow, we develop.

Now the very simple idea in Maslow’s model is that if a lower level is removed or is threatened then the requirement for the higher levels dissipates or disappears. So what we are seeing at the moment is that level three, our social need is actually being taken away from us at the moment. Now I’m not going into the politics of whether that’s right or not but it is.

I’m noticing and hearing a lot of people now struggling to be motivated, to push forward, to achieve which is probably around self-esteem because of that pressure at level three. So there is something here for us about creating some social networking. Let’s park that one out to one side.

The second piece of theory that I’m noticing is the Kubler-Ross change curve or grieving curve. And if you’re familiar with that, is as we dip down into the curve and as we come down into it, we’re going through anger, denial and then despair and into acceptance. And then hopefully what happens is that we start to come up, acceptance, realization, looking forward, anticipation and coming out in the other side and starting to the mood pick up.

Now, if you think about what’s been going on, we’ve been stuck in and around the bottom, there hasn’t been any real idea of when we can start to pull out of this. Now, I can see both hope and challenge in what’s going on, which I’ll come to in terms of our actions. So the Kubler-Ross curve we’ve been stuck down here.

Now, normally when we’re managing change, what we’re doing is we give people hope by giving them some way on a timescale, we haven’t been able to do that. So people have been stuck down here in the bottom of the curve, wondering what’s going on. So we’ve got two impacts, we’ve got two things really, really coming into play here.

Now the third one is threat, there is a threat. There is a virus out there. It impacts people, we’re seeing people dying, we’re seeing people suffering long-term health issues. There’s perhaps that element of threat there for people.

We’ve also got the winter coming. If you’re watching this in the Northern hemisphere, we’re into winter, long, cold, dark evenings, nights. We don’t have the summer anymore that we had for the lockdown one, lockdown two seems to have really got to people.

So what do we need to be doing? Okay, couple of things that are springing to my mind, we need to be creating those social networks. We need to be creating opportunities for people to engage with one another in a relaxed and social manner. How can we do that? Is this around having quiz nights, some form of entertainment, relaxed scheduled coffee mornings? I know a scheduled coffee morning, a relaxed schedule coffee morning may not sound relaxed but getting people together, but without work, without any other purpose apart from to connect, how can we do that? Let’s explore that.

The other thing I think we need to be careful of is that we’re starting to get some hope in terms of a vaccine. Okay, but there’s still probably going to be some months before that is completely rolled out. This is not going away fast. And there is the prospect that we’re going to come back from Christmas, whatever form Christmas takes or the festive season to what we don’t yet know. But there may be some months yet before this situation changes.

Now, that means we as leaders have got to be prepared for that. So what can we do?

Okay, I’d like to point you back to my three videos about what we need to do. If we want people to work for us, the morale videos and I’ll put a link back to number one at the end of this one. We need to be actively leading and not only the team but individuals. I think it is very important right now that we respect that individuals are going to have their very specific needs.

How do we behave? Okay, I’ve stayed out of the American politics but I want to just compare and contrast that the mode of behavior and the way people are talking, Joe Biden, calm, considered, we are fighting the virus, not one another, okay. Whether or not we agree with the politics, the manner and the way in which he is now starting to communicate is that that we would normally expect of a leader. And I think that’s very important.

What we need is calm voices but portraying hope and moving forward when we can but not lying about the reality. And that’s important, people will know when you are not being authentic and genuine. This is a time to be authentic and genuine with the news you have on what you are telling people.

So let’s just wind that up. First of all, COVID, not going away for a while.

Two, Maslow, social needs. What can we do? Let’s do something that gets people together on a social networking basis.

Three, we’ve got this pressure on the Kubler-Ross curve on the grieving curve, people are stuck down in this very depressive, quite depressive place at the bottom of the curve. We need to be aware of that, that we’ve got to handle that. Therefore, how do we deal with that?

Okay, this is the leadership, this is the morale piece, giving people some hope that the business is okay. Refer back to those morale videos that I spoke about and the final piece being authentic and real and caring about our individuals. This is so important right now.

Okay, that’s it. There is so much for us to do. I think I’m going to break this one down into a number of bite-sized chunks and I’ll speak to you all soon. Thanks very much, bye.