Small Steps…

One of the most enjoyable pieces of work I do is to run a postgraduate management and leadership programme through Edinburgh Napier University for members of a trade association. I am privileged to be able to mark their work in which they have to write about something they took from one of the workshops and apply it back at work. I’m really humbled to read some of their work and the changes they have made in the way they operate and deal with people as a result of coming on the programme. I get a huge sense of pride when I read the reports on the things that they have actually done, and the impact this has had. This made me reflect on 2 things:

Firstly, small steps can make a huge difference. One of my students initiated a discussion with a staff member she had been avoiding, which led to her not only feeling better and becoming more engaged, but led to a much more positive overall atmosphere in the office. One conversation did all this. Sometimes doing that one thing you’ve been avoiding can create a series of things happening which has an impact well beyond what had been expected.

Secondly, Positive Unintended Consequences can have a profound effect on success. Another student described including his team in a discussion about the company’s strategy. From initial scepticism, all got engaged and produced some amazing new ideas which hadn’t been considered before. They then took some proposals on new business to the M.D., which were acted on with promising results. Although the intention was only to increase the team’s understanding of business strategy, it went well beyond this and the company, team and MD got so much more out of it than anyone had expected. One small positive step can generate enthusiasm, passion and spark creativity in unexpected ways.

The link between these two things is that having great conversations, listening, engaging people all truly do make a difference. We can easily get stuck in our daily grind without really engaging with people. It sounds easy – and it is – but we need to make the time, be deliberate and really focus to make these conversations really work.

So what great conversation can you have today which will potentially lead to something fantastic?