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Blog

16 July 2020

the blame game 002

No one is coming to save you! Your life is 100% your responsibility!

One of the things I have found fascinating about COVID-19 is the constant and predictable cycles of the “blame game”, as people and leaders seek who to blame for the virus becoming a pandemic,  lack of medical equipment especially PPE, increasing unemployment, difficult economic conditions, race riots and everything else that has happened in  the disruptive, challenging year that 2020 has become! At an individual level, we could choose to focus on what we can do to contribute to finding solutions, demonstrate compassion, appreciate others, express gratitude daily and reflect on what we can learn from the current pandemic and preceding natural disasters. Then maybe, just maybe we are ready to re-frame our thoughts, our language and our behaviour to find a way to create a “new but different normal”.

Looking back to the past and attempting to utilise solutions from the past to new, different crises will not work. We will simply create a dying future before it is even here!

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11 May 2020

In the early 2000s leaders were found to be failing in five significant ways:  

  • Not being good listeners
  • Not managing poor performance in the workplace
  • Being resistant to change
  • Not giving regular, constructive feedback
  • Lack of willingness to adapt command and control leadership styles to more inclusive and collaborative leadership styles.

These were the findings of a study conducted by a global consulting firm, and our own research at AHAA!

Fast forward two decades to the current global COVID-19 pandemic and one may say that nothing has changed for the majority of leaders! My observation is that it appears to some degree to be generational as Anglo-Saxon Baby Boomer men continue to dominate key leadership positions around the world.

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7 April 2020

International Women’s Day has been celebrated on 8 March annually since 1911. While progress has been made, given that it has been over a century the pace of change has been glacial to say the least and frankly, myself and many other women are a bit “over it”! Yes, we are mad as hell, and the older we get, the more likely we are to speak up loudly and boldly because we’ve got nothing to lose!

There are many myths about women at work that are simply wrong. Ironically these myths exist across 10 different countries as diverse as Australia, China, France and the USA, and across four generations. I interviewed 91 women from 10 countries across four generations, Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y for my book Leadership Revelations III How We Achieve The Gender Tipping Point, and women’s experiences were exactly the same. Leadership Rev III Cover HR 300 dpi

These are the most common myths about women which are just wrong:

  • Women are not as ambitious and competitive as men
  • Women are less committed at work once they have children
  • Women are too emotional, and don’t like conflict
  • Women want it all
  • Women do not aspire to leadership roles
  • Women with children don’t want senior leadership roles
  • Women don’t care about the money
  • There is a lack of qualified women for leadership roles
  • Today’s workplaces are meritocracies where the best person gets the job!
  • If women are given equality, men will be disadvantaged

Let’s look at the facts and statistics, so we can’t be accused of being overly sensitive, taking things personally or out of context, or even creating fake news!

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2 April 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic we can be anything BUT close to you! It was however while watching the YouTube clip performed by the Couch Choir of the song Close To You, (originally performed by The Carpenters in 1970) that got me thinking about what we miss most as humans. The performance recorded earlierthis year brought both my husband and I to tears. It was sung by over 1,000 people from 18 countries around the globeand was the brain wave of the founder of Pub Choirs and Choir Director, Astrid Jorgensen. These events have been joyous and fun, filled with music, laughter, camaraderie and community.

There’s the magic word – COMMUNITY! 

I believe what everyone is missing due to self-isolation is exactly that – community, as humans we long to be close to each other. We miss the communities we belong to through work, sport, social clubs, pubs, family gatherings and social events with friends – weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, christenings and even funerals to farewell loved ones with dignity.

So, what do we do? Many of us find ourselves in a “no man’s land”, and we are confused, frustrated, angry, sad, disbelieving and hoping this is a bad nightmare and we will wake up tomorrow and everything will be “back to normal.”

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18 December 2019

This past festive season has been surreal to say the least.  The bush fire catastrophe across Australia has demonstrated the best of Australian culture and community spirit, and the best and worst of Australian leadership.  Many of us feel sadness, disappointment, frustration and anger, yet we have hope and gratitude in our hearts too.  We have witnessed so many acts of kindness by Australians and especially others around the world, at a community level. 

It caused me to reflect on what I learnt from Michelle Obama, who I had the pleasure of listening to in Singapore in December 2019, and would like to share wih you. Michelle would be one of the most humble, funny, smart and compassionate people I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Her words caused me to reflect on the past year and think about the year ahead.

The final question of the Evening with Michelle Obama was: “What do you think are the most important things in life, and what you’ve learnt, given your life’s journey to date?” She paused thoughtfully, and then said:

“Kindness, dignity and accountability.” “If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in life, it’s the power of using your voice. I tried as often as I could to speak the truth and shed light on the stories of people who are often brushed aside.”

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15 October 2019

I have always found it both perplexing and amusing that the people who have the most to say about feminism, misogyny, sexual harassment and gender discrimination are people who have NEVER experienced it – often men! And they tell you to: “Lighten up and get over it.” I am hugely in favour of experiential learning where you are introduced to the experience in a controlled environment and have an insight (not the real thing) into what it may feel like.

Any woman, I included, who supports women’s rights and calls herself a feminist is seen as some sort of “left wing, Femi-Nazi, lentil-eating, raving lunatic who hates men”. I have been called all these names online or in heated conversations, often again with men. These accusations could not be further from the truth. Firstly, I really like men and enjoy their company, I just do not like or converse with misogynistic men who disrespect women, and why should I? I am not sure what Femi-Nazi means, as no one who has called me that name has been able to explain it to me. I enjoy lentils and I don’t think eating them is a crime, a disgrace or in any way fascist behaviour and I’m not a raving lunatic, except perhaps when I watch sport that I am passionate about like AFL or Rugby.

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24 September 2019

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Yes, that is correct – we need quotas for men! I am weary of hearing the same questions on this topic for more than a decade.

“Should we have targets, or quotas?”

“Won’t quotas result in reverse discrimination against men?”

“Aren’t we risking not selecting people based on merit if we have quotas?”

“Aren’t most women themselves against quotas?”

When I first entered the workplace, I believed that if you worked hard and did the same job as your male colleagues, you would be subject to the same promotional and remuneration opportunities. Wow, did I learn very quickly in my first management role that that was not the case at all. I was a degree qualified accountant and worked in finance in a financial services business.  A male colleague who joined our team about six months after I did was given a company car (I didn't have one), and a starting salary 20% higher than my salary; and oh, another thing, he was only half way through his accounting degree which he was studying part-time.

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22 August 2019

I have returned from a month of rest, relaxation and reflection. Much of my reflection was about how we as human beings and leaders can be better, connect in more meaningful ways, enable ourselves and others to be the best we can be, and truly imagine what it means to walk a mile in another’s shoes. This reflection was brought about after months of observing poor leadership around the world. The lack of kindness, empathy and understanding for the plight of those less fortunate by key leaders worldwide, is both appalling and a call to action. Political, religious and business leaders on a growing scale are guilty of causing deliberate polarisation and division, all in the name of short-term transactional power.

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1 July 2019

REST REFLECT RESET

By Avril Henry

 

David and I are about to embark on a long overdue break; my plan for this trip is to Rest Reflect Reset. I learned this practice from my dear friend and colleague, Dr Adam Fraser, who created this as part of his theory and practice of Third Space. Third Space transformed the way I lived and worked; but sometimes as often happens, we get so busy that we stop the daily routines and practices that are so good for our overall well-being.

My plan as we wind our way down the Danube River is to rest and reflect in order to reset when I return to Australia in August. What do each of these three stages mean to me?

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23 April 2019

As a nation,we are united as one for the celebration and remembrance of Anzac Day and those who have died for the freedom of this great country in which we live.  Australian ideals had been both tested and proved at Gallipoli.  Wayne Swan  once said this about Gallipoli: “What emerged was a moral value that rapidly established itself as our supreme national virtue: a combination of bravery, resilience, the ability to improvise, and the duty to stick together in hard times and protect your friends.  At an Anzac Day service, our previous Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, said that we were a nation that was able to test its courage “in our willingness to persevere through misfortune and adversity, to remain hopeful in our dry gullies, in our capacity to reach out …” 

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20 February 2019

Welcome to our new GLAM Alumni Network. More than 500 women over 8 years have attended GLAM programs in Sydney, Canberra and Darwin. This is your network where you can learn new skills, exchange experiences and knowledge, and embrace networking opportunities.

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8 February 2019

I love research that draws our attention to the positive aspects of leadership, people and life, and challenges you to see things differently, rather than to see what’s wrong and why new ways won’t work!

In a study done by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones, professors at London Business School and IE Business School (Madrid) respectively, several years ago, they identified 6 virtues of a dream workplace, as follows:

  1. People can truly be themselves

This means that people can bring their “whole selves” to work, they are encouraged to express their opinions even if different to their boss or their peers, passion is encouraged even if it makes others uncomfortable, and people who are different are the norm, rather than the exception. Being yourself is core to authenticity, one of the key characteristics younger workers look for in their leaders.

  1. People are told what is REALLY going on

People are encouraged to tell the truth, even if it means bad news. They do not sanitize the true situation for senior management and pretend that all is well when it isn’t. It is not seen as being disloyal to say something negative, provided you are able to support your comments with data and evidence, and a proposed solution to the problem. One of the characteristics of effective, inspiring leaders is that they are open, honest and transparent in their communication throughout the organisation, and are great listeners who ask good questions.

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30 January 2019

Are you listening?

By Avril Henry

“It is better to remain quiet and be thought of a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt”       Anonymous

Most of us don’t actually listen, we simply hear. This means that we comprehend less than 50% of every verbal conversation we have, so much of the message is either forgotten or lost. Many of us practice the art of “half an ear” or “stunned mullet” listening. We are so busy these days that I believe our capacity and willingness to truly listen has diminished significantly in the last two decades. I truly believe that the greatest gift you can give anyone – your team members, peers, clients, partners, children and friends is to actively listen with intent, and to be truly 100% present.

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17 January 2019

2019 & Beyond

By Avril Henry

Some things to remember with closing a year and starting a new one.....

  • Stop being a “human doing” and become a human being
  • Stop using your technology 24/7 – shut it down, turn it off and BE PRESENT
  • One for women – Stop saying “I’m sorry” if you didn’t hurt someone’s feelings!
  • Stop using BUT – it disconnects people and conversations, start using AND
  • Stop talking on your mobile phone when walking on sidewalks and crossing roads
  • Stop talking and start listening – to your peers, employees, partners, children and friends! Listen with your ears and your eyes and your heart
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14 August 2018

What Matters Most

By Avril Henry

Many people I know here in Australia and around the world are having a challenging year – ill health, financial difficulties, job insecurity, loss of loved ones and increasing dissatisfaction and disengagement with political leadership around the world. At times it feels as though the world is becoming less tolerant, less generous, less kind, more judgmental, more impatient and more willing to exclude anyone who doesn’t “fit in”, whatever that means. My family and I have not been immune to these challenges, and many times I have felt my patience and resilience tested.

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2 May 2018

In its 28th year, the Global Summit of Women was held in Sydney, Australia, with over 1,000 women attending from more than 65 countries. It was three days of sharing, networking, wisdom and fun. I have had the privilege of attending three summits and being a speaker at each of them – Beijing (2010), Paris (2013) and Sydney (2018). At every summit, I have met amazing women from around the world, made new friends and learnt so much from each of them. Every woman attending the conference, every facilitator, moderator and speaker were incredible, smart, generous and often humorous, way too many to mention specifically by name. This month’s newsletter seeks to share a few of the lessons and wisdom from this year’s Summit.

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6 March 2018

What's The Lesson

By Avril Henry

Building on my January mantra of:“Find the joy in every day and situation, no matter the circumstances,” my mantra for February has been “What’s the Lesson?” I had decided that following some demanding situations at the end of 2017 that I would find the joy in every situation, and was delighted to find that there is always joy in every situation and every day. This got me thinking that if we were asking ourselves to find the joy, and the circumstances were challenging, then we should also ask ourselves “What’s the lesson?”

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1 February 2018

FIND THE JOY

By Avril Henry

As part of reflecting on the year that was 2017, I decided that in 2018, I would create and adopt a mantra for each month, then reflect on its effectiveness at the end of each month. I thought I would share with you how that has worked in the first month of 2018.

January’s mantra:

Find the joy in every day and situation, no matter the circumstances. 

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28 June 2017

Time for reflection is very important for our mental, physical and emotional well-being, and our ability to engage in self-care. I think it is indicative of our “busyness” that the number one workers compensation claims today are stress related, rather than physical injuries. Stress is also the most significant contributor to ill health. And yet we work harder and harder, much of which is driven by fear of loss of security through loss of employment. Yes, things are challenging economically in Australia and around the world, however, I believe there is too much fear-mongering and negativity, which simply compounds many irrational fears.

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12 April 2017

As a nation, this month we will unite for the celebration and remembrance of Anzac Day and those who have died for the freedom of this great country in which we live.  A past federal Treasurer speaking on Anzac Day a few years ago said Australian ideals had been both tested and proved at Gallipoli.  Further, he said: “What emerged was a moral value that rapidly established itself as our supreme national virtue: a combination of bravery, resilience, the ability to improvise, and the duty to stick together in hard times and protect your friends.” 

As someone who has lived my adult life in Australia, and who regards herself as a very patriotic Australian, these words resonated with me about what it means to be Australian – brave, resilient, adaptable, sticking together, looking after your mates, persevering , courageous and reaching out to our community!

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