How to Motivate Unmotivated Workers

Production is down. Morale is down. The staff kitchen is like a wake. People stop talking when you come near. The same people who used to be sticklers for punctuality are now turning up late and having a suspiciously bad run with their health. This is what you might call a sick workplace. Ignore the symptoms and you’ll have a full blown profit plague on your hands.

High tech doesn’t mean high spirits

Your offices, machinery and computer systems can all be as state-of-the-art as you like, but if the states-of-the-minds are behind the times, you’re in trouble. At the end of the day people run your business, not machines, and they need regular maintenance too. So how do you get people motivated and performing at a high level? They have to want to perform and your job is to make them want to.

Be a benevolent boss

And no that doesn’t mean giving to charity, it means giving more of yourself to your workers. It means getting to know your workers, their needs, their hopes and fears. Basically it means showing you care and listening to any concerns. If you have an office, leave the door open and put a big ‘Welcome’ sign on it; tell all staff you’re available any time and encourage them to bang on your door for a chat.

Make weekly one-on-ones number one

It might seem like a massive intrusion on your time, but informal one-on-one chats with staff can make a huge difference to morale and profits. They nip potentially disastrous issues in the bud and allow potentially great ideas to blossom out of nowhere and from the most unlikely source. Obviously if you have a hundred workers you can’t be expected to talk to every one of them once a week unless you have a few doppelgangers. Get all your department heads to do the one-on-ones with their staff, and then have one-on-ones with the department heads.

Show a bit of social

An agent – let’s call him Ethan – works for an international intelligence agency and he sometimes finds it hard to reach other staff when he needs them. As a result Ethan begins to feel anxious, stressed and isolated. His missions become impossible. Now if the agency installs a secure online social tool – much like a private Facebook – Ethan can reach all kinds of staff instantly and get the home addresses of arch enemies and what not without delay. His stress levels drop and suddenly anything seems possible. If your company is large, widespread or run by remote workers, a social connectivity tool can greatly improve communication and collaboration and make staff feel more empowered.


Here’s to a world of happiness!

Dylan Forbes, B.Sc. Psych (Hon.), Pr. AINLP

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The Power of a Growth Mindset Part two of a series

Your company has just upgraded its computer system and it’s doing your head in. You loved the old system. You had your head around it and could almost do your job with your eyes closed. Now you’re forced to reinvent your job to new software and as far as you’re concerned it’s not software at all; it’s way too hardware. Sound familiar? It might not be that exact scenario, but we’ve all had our work goal posts moved just when our job was curving perfectly in the wind. But as is always the way, when we think we know our job inside and out, someone somewhere in the organisation goes and changes everything.

The ‘I’m taking my ball home’ response

It might seem like the appropriate reaction when you’re confronted with ‘it wasn’t broken, why fix it?’ changes to your comfy working day – you have a fit and refuse to embrace anything other than the nearest neck. However that, in all its stubborn, resentful glory, is a fixed mindset.

The All Purpose Adaptor response

You could, however, accept change, welcome it. You may as well, because one thing’s for sure – change will be the most consistent thing in your life. Think of all the reasons why change is good. If you know your job inside out, you’re one step away from boredom. Change challenges, invigorates and rewards us with new skills met head on and mastered. Change makes us better people. So roll with it and enjoy it. That’s a growth mindset. In fact, rising to the challenge, growing and developing turns out to be one of the most rewarding and satisfying ways to live life.

You are what you think you can be

“I was born this way.” “I’ve always been like this.” “I’m just set in my ways.” Which one of those statements is most likely to help you realise your full potential? Answer: none of the above. How about these: “I can learn.” “I can change.” “I can achieve when I set my mind to it.” While such profound confidence should stop short of trying to fly or breathe underwater, it’s the only way to think if you intend to be the best ‘you’ you can be.

Let’s play Spot the Difference

Fixed mindset: “I wish I could paint, but creativity doesn’t run in my family. We’re accountants through and through.” Growth mindset: “I’m going to take art classes at night school, develop my skills and learn the craft. Who knows, I might be able to substitute ledgers for landscapes!” Fixed mindset: “I’m the only original staff member in this department; everyone else has been promoted. I’ll be stuck here forever.” Growth mindset: “There’s a reason I’m still here and haven’t been promoted. I’m going to find out what I need to do better and progress as far as I can in this company.”  Confront your faults with honesty and intent. Embrace your weaknesses with the will to win. In no time your weaknesses will be your strengths and your biggest strength will be an all-pervading and empowering mindset of growth and newfound possibilities.


Here’s to a world of happiness!

Dylan Forbes, B.Sc. Psych (Hon.), Pr. AINLP

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Why EVERY Woman Should be Super-confident in the World AND Workplace

I’ll cut straight to the chase: any man who views women as inferior is weak and unsure of his own masculinity. That’s a fact and whether you’re a man or a woman reading this, I hope you agree. Three things and three things only oppress women: religion, tradition, ignorance and fragile men; often all four at once. And just to clarify in case you’re wondering: I am a man.

It’s a man’s world?

There are approximately the same number of men and women in the world. We all have the same sets of organs and the same skin. We share equivalent brain structures and mental capabilities and we breathe the same air. We, largely speaking, seek the same things out of life – happiness, love and security. So how do women get past the unfortunate attitudes that exist? Well, the first thing is to accept that those attitudes do exist and will probably continue in our lifetime. Accept that for many, these attitudes will never change. Once you do that you’ll cease to be disappointed and disenchanted by them. It’s a bit like the first Noble Truth of Buddhism – “there will be suffering”:accepting that you will suffer is profoundly liberating when it comes to dealing with suffering.  Accepting that some men will disappoint you with their conveniently biased beliefs is equally profound when the inevitable happens.

Believe that you deserve success

You know that many men believe they deserve it, so why shouldn’t you? Don’t be the slightest bit apologetic about your career aspirations. Likewise don’t be the least bit embarrassed when you get there. It all comes down to self-respect. Men may try to erode that, often through their own insecurities. So don’t give them the opportunity, or the satisfaction. You’re equals whether they like it or not. If you end up being better than them at being equal, so be it!

Assert yourself not your soul

Niggling uncertainties can stick their hand up in funny ways – talking too much or too honestly; openly comparing yourself; and being conservative in workplace actions. In the end it comes down to having unbreakable faith in yourself and your abilities, not as a woman, but as a human being. So create a positive, empowered work persona who clocks on and off when you do.

Picture men as they really are

There are many things you can do to focus on your own learning and developing your own capability without comparing yourself to others, which is where real confidence comes from. But here’s a fun exercise you can use to remind you that we are all human and we are all vulnerable: the next time a man tries to assert some sort of chauvinistic dominance over you, picture him playing Twister naked. This tried and true technique is a wonderful leveller and an emphatic (often humorous) way to bring ANY man down to size. It might be the belittling bank manager or the creepy boss; it might even be a member of your own family. Strip them bare (figuratively speaking) and throw them into an unflattering position on a sheet of coloured plastic. Then see how intimidating they really are. This great little mind game washes away any irrational inferiority you might feel and allows you to operate on a level playing field.


Here’s to a world of happiness!

Dylan Forbes, B.Sc. Psych (Hon.), Pr. AINLP

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Unleashing your Inner Leader Part Three of a Series

In parts one and two we focused on bringing your inner leader forward and getting more freedom in your life. Now we’re going for the real leadership challenge and how to become a bona fide leader without a hint of dirty politics.

Who are the great leaders?

When you think of leaders, what names immediately spring to mind? Martin Luther King? Churchill? Aung San Suu Kyi? Gandhi? Lincoln? Cleopatra? Tutu? Abbott? We probably should have stopped at Tutu. But what’s the first attribute that springs to mind when you think of a great leader? If you said ‘the way they orate,’ you wouldn’t be alone. We do tend to equate great leaders with booming, fist pumping speeches rather than any actual deeds. Clearly though, true leadership isn’t just about holding a crowd.

Great leaders come in unlikely packages

Look at Bill Gates; he’s hardly yourgarden variety‘I have a dream!’ leader. Look at Richard Branson; he leads by smiling enthusiasm rather than soaringorations. And leading isn’t just about countries and corporations. Think of the dad coaching the under 10s basketball team; the mum hosting a positive parenting workshop; the teenager running an ice cream stall with friends. They’re all leading in their own way; instructing, informing, convincing, enlightening, motivating.

Lead the way your way

That’s the first key to understanding the real concept of leadership and how it can play out in your life. It’s not about suddenly going from door mouse to starring role; it’s not about some all encompassing change. It’s about distributed leadership; letting others lead when they know better than you do and taking the lead when you do. It’s about leading selectively and choosing aspects of your life where a more assertive you could make a difference. It’s also about bringing the positive nuances of your personality to the fore.

So consider of your own life. Think of work and home and friends and family. Think of things you’re not happy with or that you feel could be better; areas of your life where you’ve following someone else’s lead and got hopelessly lost. Then offer helpful directions. Lead in your own style and let it happen organically

In the last part of this leadership series I’ll give you some practical tips on taking the lead in important parts of your life.


Here’s to a world of happiness!

Dylan Forbes, B.Sc. Psych (Hon.), Pr. AINLP

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Unleashing your Inner Leader Part Two of a series

In part one of this leadership series I gave you a few general tips on how to drag your inner leader kicking and screaming out of the School of Submission and get some well deserved control. And it’s not easy: if we’re used to giving in, giving up and going with the consensus, taking a stance on anything can seem pretty foreign and frightening. Family and friends are going to be put out, bummed out and, above all, confronted that you’re suddenly not the ball of putty you used to be. So in part two we’ll continue on your road to inner leadership; a road that requires no foot stomping and soap boxing, just a nice confident march into self respect. Let’s first face your dilemma.

People might not like me if I start saying no

Well, guess what, if people walk all over your red carpet of malleability, they hardly like you in the right ways anyway. In fact they’re taking advantage. For example, a born ‘people pleaser’ – we’ll call her Rachel – has a hot date. She’s getting ready for this date when a friend – let’s call her Phoebe- calls asking if she can babysit. Rachel loves to say yes because she loves to please. Actually, she says yes because she hates to disappoint and she’s said yes at the expense of her own happiness for exactly nineteen hot dates. Effectively she’s disappointed herself nineteen times so she doesn’t disappoint someone else. Crazy, but we all do it.

Cue Rachel’s inner leader

Rachel tells Phoebe she can’t babysit, she has a date. “Oh?” says Phoebe with a tone positively dripping in indignant surprise. Rachel hears this, but doesn’t bend. She gets her date, a healthy dose of self respect, and her days as a soft target for Phoebe are over. For sure, Rachel will babysit again, but she won’t babysit every single time she’s asked.

From beholden to golden

That’s the joy of inner leadership. You don’t suddenly go from obliging to obstinate. You don’t suddenly refuse every favour that got you in favour in the first place. You simply pick and choose your moments according to what works for you. Pick one right now. Think of a way your life is being compromised. Who or what is the prime reason? Confront it, cue your inner leader and lead it ever so nicely to where you want to go.


Here’s to a world of happiness!

Dylan Forbes, B.Sc. Psych (Hon.), Pr. AINLP

For more visit if on another site)


Unleashing your Inner Leader Part one of a series

No, that’s not some dubious Fifty Shades of Grey analogy, though we will be discussing a bit of polite domination. This article is the first on the very weighty subject of leadership. And before you say “I’m not leader material,” there’s a leader in all of us whether we think we’re born followers or not. Leading isn’t just about managing people or being captain of the local sports team. You can lead people, yes, but you can also be a leader of your own life and live a far more liberated, empowered existence as a result. Believe me? Allow me to lead the way.

Baby steps to your leading role

When you think of leadership, you might be thinking of leading people. And we will be dealing with that in a later article. But first I want to talk about taking inner leadership of your own life. And part of that means being selectively assertive.

Prioritise your principles

To paraphrase the great leader Winston Churchill – if you haven’t accumulated any enemies in your life, you’ve obviously never bothered to stick up for yourself. And while the word ‘enemy’ is a bit extreme, the sentiment is quite revealing. We do want to be popular. We do want everyone to like us. But if those real world ‘likes’ are at the expense of our principles, are we really being true to anyone, including ourselves? Does ‘like’ go hand in hand with ‘respect’? Does ‘easy going’ really just mean ‘push over’? How many principles are we compromising in the pursuit of a conflict-free status quo?

I’m not suggesting you suddenly go from Politeness Contender of the Year to Principle Warrior overnight; no one will take you seriously. And even the word ‘conflict’ tends to get bad press. We avoid conflict for obvious reasons. But every issue we tip toe around may one day become a major hurdle with a water hazard. Here are a few examples.

The game of love

A man – let’s call him Anthony – is addicted to a war game and he plays that game constantly at the expense of his partner, Cleopatra, who seethes and says nothing. The longer Cleopatra says nothing, the more Anthony drifts from the real world and the more their relationship dismantles (believe me; the world is full of Anthony and Cleopatra’s; they’re a sad modern phenomenon). Now if Cleopatra brings her inner leader to the fore, sits Anthony down and makes a calm plea for game playing in moderation, chances are he’ll be horrified to learn there was a serious problem in the first place. Anthony plays his game less (or stops completely) and Cleopatra’s inner leader has had an important victory.

A work in progress

Another scenario: Chuck works for a well known real estate developer – let’s call him Donald – who is a compulsive micromanager. But because Donald can be a bit confrontational when challenged, Chuck remains mute at the expense of his job satisfaction and progress. Cue Chuck’s inner leader. He finds a subtle way to broach the subject, asks for more trust and accountability in his job role and, after a brief period of awkwardness, his work environment is vastly improved.

Yes, taking leadership in your own life sometimes comes with an element of discomfort or risk, especially if you’re not used to sticking up for yourself. But try it. Try engaging your inner leader and making one compromised aspect of your life better through honest communication. Then another.And another.Before you know it, your world will be an easier, more enjoyable place to live.

Here’s to a world of happiness!

Dylan Forbes, B.Sc. Psych (Hon.), Pr. AINLP

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The Power of a Growth Mindset Part one of a series

“I can write, but I can’t draw.” “I’m no good at tennis; I’m only good at squash.” “There’s no point in communicating with the neighbours; they’re never going to change.”“Are you kidding, a manager’s job? I don’t know how to manage people!”

Sound familiar? It might not be you, but you’ve probably heard others express such attitudes to keep them comfortable and protected in their bubble of familiarity. Or should that be ‘bubble of mediocrity’? A fixed mindset like this can infiltrate every decision we make. A fixed mindset is our ‘Thought Police’ and not the nice variety – these Thought Police use stand over tactics to keep us locked securely away in a rigid regime of Ground Hog Days and reassuring routine. A fixed mindset limits what we can achieve and what we can help others learn.

Become a law unto yourself

What would happen if we stood up to our Thought Police and said “Hang on a minute,I’d like to try these things I’m apparently bad at! I’d like to see if I can improve!”or “What if those people can change?” How liberating would that be?

A fixed mindset is a belief that people can’t change very much– they have a fixed level of talent and that’s it! A growth mindset is the belief that people can change considerably if they put in consistent effort and continually develop their skills. It focuses people on looking for opportunities that will help them be more successful. People often have a growth mindset in one area of their life but a fixed mindset in another. Just becoming aware of being in a fixed mindset can help a person learn to do things they never thought possible.

Empower your impulses

Going from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is like flicking a switch; it’s a decision to react to the same impulses in a different way. You’ve been told you can’t dance and with a fixed mindset you’ll believe it. Flick the switch to a growth mindset and suddenly you’re taking those much maligned twinkle toes off to dancing lessons! Your partner has faults that annoy the living daylights out of you; faults you were sure you could groom out of them in time. With a fixed mindset those faults grow horns. With a growth mindset you accept and celebrate your partner as they are and look for opportunities to grow together. Suddenly you’re seeing them through fresh eyes.

Embrace something you’re spectacularly bad at

With a growth mindset every limitation becomes an invitation to give it a go. So let’s really focus on your biggest weaknesses and equate them with their potential worth. Say for example you’re the world’s worst driver. Those around you have been more than happy to reinforce this dubious honour with what they thought was light-hearted banter. With a fixed mindset you’ll probably lose confidence in your driving completely. With a growth mindset you’ll do a defensive driving course or find the nearest empty car park to hone your skills with a helpful friend. Your driving will improve because you’re no longer fixed to the notion that it won’t.

Do what you love, not what you do

If you’re good at selling, but you hate it, don’t do it. If you’re awful at floral arrangement, but you love it, do it until you can do it well. That’s the basic principle of a growth mindset. It puts you where you want to be, not where life’s taken you.

In part two of this series I’ll go into greater detail about how a growth mindset can rejuvenate you both personally and professionally. Meantime give a growth mindset a go – think of something you’re really awful at; something you’d love to be good at and give it a go!

Here’s to a world of happiness!

Dylan Forbes, B.Sc. Psych (Hon.), Pr. AINLP

For more visit if on another site)

360 Feedback: Feedback from Subordinates

Getting feedback about your leadership and managerial methods is absolutely vital to improvement. It offers insight in to how your employees perceive you, where you excel, and where you may be falling short, but it isn’t all that easy to obtain, as many employees are hesitant to criticise their superiors. This is one of the reasons our 360 feedback surveys operate anonymously.

There have been differing methods of gaining feedback from subordinates. Julius Caesar was well-known for touring the front lines of his army, intent on rallying the troops, ensuring that they knew he was fighting alongside them, and evaluating the performance and feedback of his generals first-hand. He knew that staying personally on top of any issues, and knowing the inner workings of a team, is vital to effective and productive management.

Asking your employees for feedback directly, and often, creates an atmosphere of communication within the group. Encouraging broad and inclusive discussion keeps issues out in the open, and allows them to be fleshed out immediately among each stakeholder or worker within a project.

There are psychological elements as well. Asking for feedback makes your employers feel as though they are active participants in the management of the firm, by taking their accolades and criticism seriously, and adopting them in to their routine. This invokes a team attitude, and encourages them to work like stakeholders in league with the company.

At Leaderskill, we believe constant improvement is the path to greater success. Our 360 feedback allows your managerial staff the chance to learn from their subordinates, and take these lessons on board.

Contact Leaderskill to access Australia’s finest leadership resource team at 1300 769 909.

Employee Feedback

This is an ‘edgy’ post. We in no way condone what the protagonist in this piece did to others during his lifetime. In fact, most of what he did goes completely against everything we believe in and strive to achieve in our society. It actually makes us a bit uncomfortable to include it here.

So why put it in at all? Three reasons: one – it is sometimes good to know how people become successful – even people we don’t like and don’t want to emulate in any way. We can still learn from them (if only how to think of ways to prevent their success in the future!) Two – this story shows that bringing people together, for whatever purpose, requires developing relationships, continually learning from each other and improving. Three – it is worth remembering that even the very best tools for development can sometimes be double-edged swords. They have to be used in the right way for the right purposes or they can have serious consequences. This is something we, in our daily work with our clients, keep in mind from the start of every project.

So, with all that said, enjoy the read!

An unlikely ‘hero’ in the debate on leadership styles has emerged from continuing research into the life and empire of Genghis Khan(!) An empire that has known no rival in the eight hundred years since his death. A man with a reputation for utter ruthlessness and unrivalled cruelty. However, there is one surprising truth: if any historical figure could vouch for the notion of ‘employee survey‘, it could be this one.

Khan’s empire spanned a region of some 12 million square kilometres at the time of his death. His forays in to China and the Middle East have earned him both a profound respect and a simmering hatred, depending on the standpoint. There is no doubt that his abilities as a wartime leader were unassailable. But most importantly, in a region of the world torn by sectarian strife between warring tribes, the genius of this man lay in his ability to unite. The Khan made a habit of acting the mediator.

His ability to foment agreements between warring parties was not due to a winning smile or threats of reprisal. Khan used his position to encourage parties come to general agreements. He forgot few of those around him, and used multiple parties to evaluate those in whom he placed trust. He was merit-based, rather than authoritative, and used a primitive form of employee survey to evaluate these traits.

It’s an odd comparison, but one of the reasons he was able to maintain his empire was the love he gained from his countrymen. While allowing his fearsome reputation to flourish outside his borders – to ease the difficulty in military campaigns, by striking fear – Genghis Khan used many of the same tenets of 360 degree leadership to maintain the world’s greatest empire, through direct dialogue and through multiple sources of intelligence.

We think it can work for you too. And we insist there will be no blood-letting! In fact we will explain the part that Khan never knew – the part that engages people and gets them working together collaboratively from their strengths, without fear. And managers say they love it!

Contact Leaderskill to access Australia’s finest leadership resource team at 1300 769 909.

360 Feedback

The methodology behind offering employee feedback has changed considerably in recent years. Far from the top-down method of yesteryear, when only immediate managers were offering their judgement of a workers’ performance, this process has been altered as more stakeholders have had their input heard. Managers have realised the importance of gaining a better picture of their worker, and what they have to offer, in order to make them happier and more productive on the job.

A more detailed picture of an employee helps to uncover the best usage of their talents and particular skill set. 360 feedback is perhaps the finest application of the methodology which lies behind forming this detailed picture. Using a wide variety of sources, from co-workers to direct and indirect management, to the employee themselves, works to offer the company a wide range of examples of the contributions and preferences of the employee. It departs from any squabbles between the employee and his managers. In short, it paints a far more detailed picture.

At Leaderskill, our wide body of experience has confirmed our devotion to this particular method of feedback. We have seen its effectiveness across hugely diverse corporate and social groups, and we don’t believe that our faith in 360 feedback is at all misplaced. We maintain a devotion to the concept that a satisfied employee will work at their personal peak, and the first step to finding their happiest niche is to understand them.

Whether you are a newcomer to this method of employee engagement and improvement, or simply ready to reemploy it, Leaderskill has your employee engagement ready. Let us transform the way you gain insight in to your employees.

Contact us today.

Contact Leaderskill to access Australia’s finest leadership resource team at 1300 769 909