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The Wellness Couch is the brainchild of the hosts of Australia’s #1 health podcast show The Wellness Guys – a weekly show composed of chiropractors Dr Laurence Tham, Dr Damian Kristof and Dr Brett Hill – that has consistently ranked at the top of iTunes since their debut in mid 2011.

I spoke to two organisations in the past week about leadership, behaviour and culture, and both had the same challenges.

Feedback — how to give it and how it should be received — is important. My first point I made very clear. If you are a leader and not prepared to communicate and be honest, you are not taking your responsibility seriously.

As a leader you can always surround yourself with people who have technical expertise.

Staff can also complement you, and perhaps operate slightly differently and have different personalities.

What you cannot do is abrogate your responsibility to hold people accountable and drive your culture. You must do this by honest, open and direct communication.

There is no doubt that coaching a football team demands communication skills, and constantly making deadlines.

Football clubs are made up of people and people drive the business. They do not have a product or a service; they have 44 players who represent the club each week and winning football games is their business.

They do not have the luxury of putting off a deadline. You simply cannot ring up the AFL and say, “Sorry, we are not ready for the 2.10pm game on Saturday. Can we push it back a couple of days?”

Here are the keys to giving feedback to staff:

1. Don’t think of your business as selling cars, insurance, light bulbs, etc. Look at your business as a group of people trying to get the best out of themselves and each other.

2. Be really clear on what your behaviours/values are. If possible get your staff involved in the decision-making and make sure that everyone understands them and agrees with them.

3. Meet regularly, not to talk about the product but to openly discuss how people are tracking. Don’t see this time as an impediment to your business. Just because you are not directly selling, setting budgets, or writing marketing strategies doesn’t mean you are not having a positive impact on the bottom line.

4. Mastering feedback takes time. It is like any skill: it needs to be practised. If you are clear on your values, all your feedback should relate directly to these ­values.

5. Understand people’s personalities. How do they best like to receive feedback? You must invest in relationships to fully understand your staff, and take time to get to know people in your organisation.

6. Use your leadership group to lean on each other and help each other. You don’t have to give the feedback yourself. If you feel someone else will have better success with that particular person than let them do it.

7. Make sure you give positive feedback as much as possible. People will feel good about themselves and others will look at that positive behaviour and want to reproduce it. Everyone wants to feel values and positive feedback will drive positive behaviour.

8. Try not to give the feedback when you’re angry or emotional.

Let yourself calm down. Then you are more rational and able to articulate the message more ­clearly.

Finally, the two most important points to remember when giving feedback:

9. You can’t control how people receive the feedback.

You can only control how you give it.

I have no doubt that many people don’t give the feedback because they are terrified about how the recipients will respond.

10. Always give feedback because you want to help the person improve. Above all, you are doing it to improve your team and ultimately your organisation. If it is done for any other reason, it is personal, selfish and unnecessary.

One of my main objectives when arriving at the Melbourne Football Club was to transform the culture of the organization.  The club had just completed a season winning two games and losing 20 games and hadn’t seen success for many years.

Whilst the word ‘culture’ is widely used, I often wonder if people really understand what it means?

Brett Kirk, my former captain at the Sydney Swans, found a great quote which I believe sums up exactly what culture is.

“How things are done. It is typical of an organization, the habits, prevailing attitudes, the grown up pattern of accepted and expected behaviour.”

Think about this in your day-to-day life.  Whatever company you are dealing with at any particular time, how often do you talk directly to the managing director, CEO or owner of that company?  Depending on the size of the company generally the answer is never.

Your perception of that organization will be determined by any of the following:

  1. The person on the end of the phone.
  2. The person at the reception desk.
  3. The serviceman that comes to your house.
  4. The sales person that drops in to see you.

In summary, every single person in an organization is responsible for the culture of that organization.

Having spoken at many conferences I know the majority of companies have a set of behaviours or values that they have agreed upon.

The size of the organization will determine how these values have been set and how many people were involved in setting them.

I guarantee that many companies spend hours defining those behaviours/values and look for as much input from staff as practically possibly.

Equally I can tell from experience that once those behaviours/values have been agreed upon often they are rolled up and placed in a desk and the only time they are discussed is at the annual conference.

Dissecting that quote lets see how you can have a good culture if you never discuss your behaviours and values.

HOW THINGS ARE DONE:

-If people don’t fully understand what their role is and what the company expectations are you cannot even start the process of developing a great culture.

WHAT IS TYPICAL OF AN ORGANIZATION

THE HABITS

THE PREVAILING ATTITUDES

THE PATTERN OF ACCEPTED AND EXPECTED BEHAVIOURS

-At the Melbourne football club just as we did in Sydney, we collectively agreed on a set of behaviours.  We endlessly discussed those behaviours and clearly articulated what was expected.

On a weekly basis we looked at the behaviours both on and off the field.

The vision of the matches was shown to match up to the behaviours both positive and negative instances in the game.

The players need to be 100% clear what each and every behaviour means and get shown and told over and over again.

One of the keys to success is the habits you have formed.  A habit is something that occurs instinctively as it has been practiced/reinforced continually over a long period of time.

In a great football club if you have a clear set of behaviours that have been embraced and have become habitual you will have success.

Watching a great football team live is in effect a magnificent visual of what culture looks like.

  1. What do you see from that team every week that they play?

(typical of an organization)

  1. Do their behaviours on-field appear consistently, naturally and seemingly without consciously thinking about them?

(the habits)

  1. Do you see players constantly talking to each other, either congratulating a teammate on good behaviour or counselling when someone makes a mistake.

(the pattern of accepted and expected behaviour)

As important as the process of agreeing on the behaviours is it is completely pointless if you do not spend time discussing them.

As a CEO, Director or Manager, how confident are you that when that person comes in contact with your staff that they will clearly see what your company values are?

Be honest, when was the last time you even discussed them?  Was it at the big company conference six months ago?

One of the first questions that you get asked when you coach a football team is, “How many games do you think you will win?”

The follow up questions, depending on what team you are coaching, generally go like this;

Do you think you can make the finals?

Do you think you can win the Premiership?

The industry is incredibly outcome focused and presents the greatest challenge to the coach.  The art of great leadership is not focusing on the outcome but focusing on the process.

Certainly you need goals and you need to understand where you are heading but the main focus of your role is the HOW.

When I first took over at the Sydney Swans the club had not won a Premiership since 1933, the longest Premiership draught in the AFL.  However, the immediate concern was how we were going to play on a consistent basis in order to win games of football.

I had to have a clear plan of how my team was going to play and sell it to the players daily.

Too many times I go to speak at conferences and when I walk away I get the feeling that the company is so focused on the long-term budget that they have no idea of the process of how to get there.

As a coach, my role was to create a clear game plan with KPI’s that the players could aspire to and carry out weekly.

There is an incredible amount of statistics and the truth is that most of them mean very little when it comes to winning and losing.

A leaders job is to clearly articulate to his staff what makes a good day/week in the office.

It is fairly simple if you have enough good days, you have enough good weeks then at the end of the year you make budget.  AFL football is no different if I could get the players to buy into the weekly habits than we would win enough games to make finals.

This is often where the expertise and the resilience of a leader is tested

My game plan came through many years of experience and I was very clear in how I saw the game.  You have to back yourself and don’t go into a position of leadership unless you do have a very clear plan for your staff.

Not everyone wants to or is equipped to be a leader.  Leaders will always be tested as it is very rare that everything goes smoothly all the time.

My first test was in my first full year of coaching Round 5, 2003.  We were one win and three losses and 10 points down at three quarter time.

Many thoughts were swirling around in my head but ultimately I had to reassure the players that our game plan would work if we stuck to it.  We kicked 10 goals in the last quarter and the players came away from that game with a great sense of belief.

The second and most public test came in the middle of season 2005 when the CEO of the AFL publicly questioned our plan.  It is these moments that your knowledge, confidence and resilience is put to the test.  I was confident in what we were doing and equally confident in all my staff.

Poor leaders will buckle and change the message completely.  The staff will become confused and the team will become filled with doubt.

I couldn’t suddenly focus on the outcome and succumb to other people’s beliefs of what we should be doing.  These challenges as hard as they seem can be some of the most powerful and beneficial to the organization.

While at the time it seems as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders by sticking to your clearly articulated plan, you can build a wonderful and long standing trust within your team.

Ultimately we went on that year to win the 2005 AFL Premiership because:

  1. We had a clear plan.
  2. We didn’t waiver when the outcome was not what we would have preferred.
  3. We kept working at our plan harder, smarter and held each other accountable to it.
  4. We trusted each other and leant on each other.
  5. WE SUCCEEDED BECAUSE WE STUCK TO THE PROCESS.

Having just completed my final coaching stint in AFL I reflected on the dramatic change that has taken place in leadership over the last 35 years.

When I started out as a 17 year old kid from Doncaster the industry was very much part-time.  My first coach was a school teacher by day and after hours would take charge of the Fitzroy Football Club.

The model back in the 80’s on leadership and coaching was very much about “do as I say”.  There was over 60 players on the list and were all part-time footballers, there simply was no time for close relationships with your coach.  Everyone got on fine but the mantra very much was the coach would decide everything and the players would follow.

There was a certain survival of the fittest mentality and the environment could be fairly brutal.  No one complained it was leadership in the 80’s.

As I put down my whistle on an 11 1/2 coaching career, leadership has been completely transformed.

We now hear words such as culture, empowerment, consultation and talk about player leadership groups.

In my view, a great leader has to make his staff invested and valued.  That is why the old model no longer works.

How do you transform a group of people from simply punching the clock in and out to feeling like shareholders?

Would you prefer your staff to get up in the morning and say, “not work again” or “I can’t wait to get to work?”

Great football clubs now have strong leaders but one of their greatest traits is empathy.  They understand each and everyone of their staff and the only way you can do that is by building strong relationships.

My first message to all the football staff at the Melbourne Football Club was ‘get to know the players’ by spending as much time with them in order to understand them we had to know them as people first and footballers second.

A great leader also needs to be a brilliant communicator and must be prepared to have an open door policy as all times.

What are the benefits of having strong relationships and communicating openly and honestly?

  1. I find if a player genuinely feels you care about them when you need to have a difficult conversation they don’t take it personally, they understand you are simply trying to make them and the team better.
  1. If their performance is suffering from something outside the football club they are more likely to open up about it and you are more capable of finding a solution.
  1. In all aspects of your organization staff are more comfortable coming to you with a problem or more importantly a great idea.
  1. Being honest and open and talking directly with them avoids the water cooler talk, rumour, and innuendo.  They may not always like what you have to say but they respect you because you have told them face to face.
  1. If everyone feels valued and invested they share in both the triumphs and disappointments and both will drive your staff to greater performance.

There was a philosophy in football that existed that there had to be a distance between a player and coach.  You couldn’t be friends with a player in order to get the best out of him.  That philosophy no longer exists, you certainly don’t need to be friends with all of you players but leadership should be built around strong values and not antiquated myths.

Leaders will always have to make decisions, some will be popular and some not so.  It is something that coaches face on a weekly basis when the team is selected for the weekend matches.  Often there is a player who we have to leave out of the team that thinks he should be in the best 22.

The decision can be difficult and has to be made collectively by the staff that hold that responsibility.  The leader must canvas all the views and ultimately make the decision.  Importantly, once that decision has been made all members of the selection panel must walk out of the room united.

The coach must then talk to the player directly and must articulate the groups views openly and honestly.

Great leaders and great organizations when put to the test in tough situations like this, always revert to their strong values.

If you have built strong relationships and your message is honest and delivered with empathy you have stayed true to your values.

 

 

You do not have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ to make a difference or add value to your sense of worth.

What does it mean to be the greatest version of yourself? Can we cultivate our life to not only include but embrace ‘small steps’ that lead to greater happiness and kindness on a daily basis? And if doing those things, would our days be more fulfilling and allow us to more easily ride the uneasy ‘waves’ that life throws at us?

The answer to this is an unequivocal YES!

This morning I went to yoga and at the end of class, the yoga instructor wished for us a day where we were able to do something nice for ourselves and asked that we share a random smile with a stranger. What a lovely intention for the day!

Kindness for the self and kindness for another human.

So why is that so powerful? Does it mean that you are trying to embrace a greater version of yourself? Absolutely.

We have gotten so caught up in thinking that we are not doing enough and constantly keep re-setting the bar to do more, be more, etc… that the little things in life often get overlooked and they tend to be the most important and have the most impact.

I remember always being reminded as a child to ‘put one step in front of another’. Every step leads you towards a destination. You do not get from A to Z without first going to B, then C, then D, etc…

These small steps create ripples, just like a stone being thrown into the middle of a pond, you can witness the result and watch how the ripples ‘impact’ more than just the spot where the stone was thrown.

An action that is positive in nature feels good. And with time one positive action, becomes two positive actions and before you know it all of your ‘so-called’ small steps become a field of positivity that impacts not only yourself but many others in your family, your neighbourhood and your community.

There are so many positive ways in which we can practice being a better version of ourselves. Maybe you pick up some trash that you found on the sidewalk or in a park instead of ignoring it. Have you not just benefited the environment and shown care so that others may enjoy a clean environment? Perhaps it is simply that you are going to go outside, take a deep breath and get some fresh air so that you are feeling more relaxed and less stressed. Is that not benefiting, not only you but perhaps your colleagues and family too? The random smile that someone receives may just be the one thing that person really needed that day to see that someone else cares. And even if the person does not respond with a smile or a nod of the head in return, does it really matter?

If your intention is clear and not based on an expectation that they have to smile back at you, you will slowly begin to recognize that you are feeling better within yourself.

The beautiful thing that you will then notice is how many of these so-called ‘small steps’ actually lead to something that is more meaningful and has an impact on your total sense of well-being.

1. Emotionally, you are happier,
2. Physically, you have more energy,
3. Spiritually, feelings of contentment arise,
4. Mentally, your mindset shifts by the very action of focusing on someone else and then you are less worried, preoccupied, and more present.

You do not have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ to make a difference or add value to your sense of worth. It is not about being perfect and it most definitely includes moments where we may feel we could have acted better or responded better in a situation. But guess what? That’s life. We are here to learn and grow and part of that process is making mistakes. It has never been about living a life free of flaws. That is impossible and is not the point of this conversation.

The point of this conversation is to remind each and everyone of you including myself that:

Living a life to the best of your ability is actually BEING ‘the greatest version of yourself’!

It is that simple.

Victor Perton: Tami, what are the unique qualities of leadership in Australia and by Australians?

I believe one of the unique qualities of leadership in Australia is an Australian’s sense of humour. Some may or may not view that as a quality of leadership, however, I believe if you are able to make people feel at ease and are able to find some ‘common ground’ through humour than that is when you can really begin to have a positive impact.

Breaking down barriers between people regardless of gender, race, age, socioeconomic background, religion, etc… is incredibly important as our focus should be on finding solutions and not focusing on problems. This is definitely one of Australia’s and Australians’ strengths in leadership.

Victor Perton: Tami, what are the qualities that Australians seek from their leaders?

Honesty is first and foremost with what Australians are looking for when they look at leaders in many different fields. Honesty lends itself then to being a person that is Trustworthy and has Integrity.

I believe those are the 3 most important characteristics that Australians seek to find in their leaders:

Honesty
Trustworthiness
Integrity

Victor Perton: Tami, what is your favourite story of a contemporary Australian leader?

My favourite story is David Bussau AO who was raised in an orphanage after being abandoned by his parents and who went on to create MicroFinancing for the poorest of peoples around the world. Initially, he was an entrepreneur who then gave it all away at 35 years of age to create enterprise solutions to poverty through Opportunity International. He is honest, humble, an amazing humanitarian and truly one of the greatest ‘social’ leaders in the 21st century in my opinion. I remember hearing him speak and he said he believed he was put on this planet to do something good for God and that is what he has been trying to do ever since. He called it is his ‘bank account’ with God and he was working towards credit. Very funny comment and once again I heard and saw how an Australians sense of humour endeared himself to those around him.

Victor Perton: Tami, what’s been important in developing your leadership journey?

This is going to come across quite biased I am sure but I would have to say that I have learned about leadership from having watched my husband, Paul Roos, over the past 28 years.

I have watched Paul develop into one of the most respected leaders in the AFL firstly as a player when he captained Fitzroy which then culminated to one of the games highest honours when he was named as captain of the Victorian State of Origin team. As a player, I remember people commenting that he was the ‘general’ on the field. Always trying to impart knowledge to the younger players and directing his teammates while on the field.

I later watched him develop into a very respected coach bringing the Sydney Swans to their first Premiership win in 72 years. What has always stood out for me though was Pauls wish to empower his players, an area that he felt needed developing within the AFL industry. I have watched this transformation first hand and know the respect with which his past players (Sydney Swans and Melbourne Demons), peers, media, etc…hold him in.

Paul allowed the players to set their own set of behaviours which they would be held accountable by, introduced new training standards that he had learned from visiting professional teams in the USA and lived by his infamous 25 points, his ‘ gospel’, which he wrote when he retired as a player after 17 years of playing. He wrote those points so that he would never forget what it was like to be a player and could refer back to those points as a coach.

Paul has always had an ‘open door’ policy with his players and staff and encouraged strong relationships. I believe Paul’s qualities as a leader are enhanced by his communication skills, calm demeanour (especially in a very stressful environment), and always putting family first. He has the ability to find balance off the field and strongly encourages meditation, visualisation, yoga and other modalities that he knows helps others sense of well being.

There is much written and spoken about meditation these days. The ancient sages, prophets, and yogis all declared the many benefits of meditation thousands of years ago.

Scientific communities around the globe have conducted more than a 1000 research and review papers about the many benefits of meditation.

The conclusion of these studies have supported the ancients ~ Meditation works.

My journey with meditation began in 1999. It is still ongoing and my daily practice is nonnegotiable. I love it!

tami-bw-333x500

What is meditation?

Meditation is learning to relax the body and quiet the mind.

It is simple and easy. Any man, woman or child can practice. It is not defined by religion, gender, race, or socio-economic means. You don’t have to sit in the lotus position or take yourself off to a cave.

And if practiced regularly will have a bigger impact on your health and wellbeing than you could possibly imagine.

In order for you to understand a bit better where I am coming from I want to take you back to 1999. I learned to meditate while embarking on a weekend meditation course in Primordial Sound Meditation. I hadn’t really heard much about meditation. In fact, I really didn’t know what it was.

But I went along as a girlfriend was singing its praises. The decision to learn to meditate was one of the best decisions I have ever made and meditation has had a positive impact on my life since then.

I don’t want to give you the impression that everyone has the same experience with meditation. Because they don’t. Meditation is and will be unique to anyone that practices and the longer you meditate the more you will benefit because the benefits are real.

We live in an incredibly fast paced world and the demands are great. The technology craze has had many benefits in that we can access information quicker than ever before and we have become accustomed to how instantaneous it is.

However, this also brings with it some downfalls. Primarily, most people don’t know how to shut off anymore. From the mobile phone, to instant messaging, Facebook, Instagram, emails, etc… we are on 24/7. We then add on to that the demands of careers, family, friends, school, etc… all the many details that make up our life and we wonder why we feel stressed.

So what happened to me and what did I experience so that I could begin to recognise that I had to honour myself and slow down?

meditation

Initially, I noticed two things. First, I ‘craved’ my meditation practice and couldn’t get enough of it. And second, I felt incredibly tired and couldn’t understand why.

After a few weeks of practice, I began to comprehend that I felt this way because for the first time in my life I was honouring the importance of slowing down and ‘pausing’ thus looking after my mind. I then began to notice that the longer I practiced I had more energy, felt calmer and more relaxed, slept better and truly felt that I had more patience with my young family.

But the big ‘aha’ moment came when a neighbour of ours asked me what I was doing as I seemed different! At first, I replied that nothing was different and then she added you are more relaxed and seem to be ‘glowing’.

Then the lightbulb went off and I knew it was the meditation practice and in my mind I went back to what the instructor had told us that first weekend a couple months earlier. She said, “you may not think anything is happening to you but you will know it is working when others begin to comment”!

That was my validating moment because the changes I was experiencing, others were noticing.

I am incredibly passionate about the state of well-being you can experience if you meditate.

So much so that after meditating for a few years I not only began teaching meditation privately to clients/students but I pursued a PhD in Parapsychic Science and wrote my dissertation on meditation and the many benefits to the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual bodies.

Always remember

There is a wealth of wisdom inside of you, hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Meditation is a gift. It is there for all of us to tap into. Honour yourself and enjoy a practice that will bring you clarity of thinking, peace of mind and greater contentment.

~ Tami Roos, PhD

If you are interested in learning more about meditation I recommend my book,  The Gift: Presence to Power available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

This book is also available as an ebook or in Audio format.

Also available for purchase are Meditation CD/s/Audios

About Tami
Tami Roos is an author, meditation facilitator and intuitive counsellor.

American born, Tami was raised in Santa Clara, California before relocating to Australia in 1993 after marrying her husband, Paul. She currently resides in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two sons.

She attended San Diego State University where she received her undergraduate degree in International Commerce (BA) and spent her third year of university abroad in Salamanca, Spain furthering her Spanish studies. She completed her MBA in International Management at the Monterey Institute for International Studies with an emphasis in trade and marketing in the spring of 1991.

In the fall of 1999, she attended a Deepak Chopra primordial sound meditation workshop and embraced a daily practice of meditation.

Wishing to follow her passion, Tami gained a PhD in Parapsychic Science from the American Institute of Holistic Theology in 2007 and wrote her dissertation on the beneficial effects of meditation. She has been teaching meditation for the past 13 years and facilitates a developmental course in meditation, which draws on her own experiential experience. Tami is an experienced public speaker and also teaches popular corporate meditation programs.