With all that you have
Two weeks ago, courtesy of a gift from my auntie, I purchased a second hand 2004 MGTF convertible. It needed a little work doing and fixing it up was to be part of the fun. One of the jobs that needed doing was a replacement rear silencer on the exhaust system. I’m reasonably handy and so I set about planning how to fix this. I could take it to an exhaust place, like most people would. I could buy the part and fix it myself. A quick look underneath, told me this was possible with my skills. So, I researched exhausts and purchased the part. I joined an MG online forum to find out more about the issue and it revealed that ‘rusty nuts’ joining the two exhaust parts was to be the nemesis. I set about them with the rust freeing spray and let that soak in overnight. Tomorrow would be the day when my mechanic skills would be put to play once more.
And so, the following day, as I lay underneath the car, with my array of spanners and tools, it was obvious with the first place of a spanner on the rusty exhaust nuts, that this was not a quick and easy job.
Now before you confuse this leadership blog with a car mechanic’s course, there is a point to this story. This is the second of a three-part series on
Do the best that you can
With all that you have
In the moment that you are in
This week it is the turn of ‘with all that you have’.
My car fixing needed me to be the best that I could be and, in this moment, it was going to need all that I had to ensure the car was roadworthy and safe. So, what does ‘with all that you have’, look like in this situation? I realised as I assessed the situation that it has these core components:
Being present & focused
The steps I took now could be the difference between a good job being done and it going very wrong. So, the process I went through was
Present & focused – I weighed up the situation. As part of that I considered what I had at my disposal.
Experience – I had not done this job before, but I had many years of basic car mechanics.
Tools – I had the spanners, but more importantly now, I had an angle grinder!
Skills – I had the skills to undo bolts and angle grind. I could bolt things together. I could read the workshop manual.
Contacts – My car forum contacts had told stories of the difficulty of the job. I also had contacts in the motor trade and two garages that I could ask to do the work.
These same principles are key for ‘with all that I have’ when we lead. When we face situations, where we want to be the best that we can be, these same areas apply.
Being present & focused
We have to be truly present in the moment. There will be lots of things trying to vie for our mental attention, but we need to focus on the task at hand. It means listening, truly listening to understand the situation and people’s perspective. Asking questions to really understand as much of a 360-degree view as we can. Paraphrasing and summarising back to people to check you understand all the issues.
Drawing upon all of your own experience. What have I learnt in other situations that might help me here?
As a leader, we will have a range of skills. The key ‘with all that I have’ is to consider skills you have gained in other areas of your life and to blend them into the situation that you face. What skills do you have in your family life, as a parent if you are one, in your free time or charitable context? It is about using your range of skills too. Listening, problem solving, vision casting, communication. Using all of them that you have.
The correct tools were definitely needed for the car. If you didn’t have an angle grinder, there is no way a spanner would get the rusty nuts off. But tools are equally important for facing leadership challenges. What tools for analysing the situation have I got at my disposal? If I don’t have any, where can I find them? Who could I borrow them from? As a coach, we often ask fellow coaches or supervisors what tools they have used to help clients with a particular issue. Just like a neighbour who may lend you a tool, we readily share.
Our contacts are crucial to success. Our immediate ones are our colleagues who face this with us. What can they bring in their skills, tools and experience? We can extend this even further when we consider our leadership networks. Whether it is asking for advice or seeing what tool they can recommend from their experience. Being the best that we can, with all that we have, is not just about solving it by ourselves. My coaching clients have found that coaching is a key component to helping them be the best that they can be. Having opportunity to reflect on situations and plan, enables them to be the best.
What do you have?
I have discovered over time, that when you face situations as a leader, it can sometimes feel daunting, but taking a moment to reflect what you have at your disposal can be empowering.
By asking questions linked to these core components you can see more clearly.
Present: What do I need to focus on? Whose voices do I need to listen to?
Experience: What experience do I have that I can draw upon?
Skills: What skills do I have to deal with this? Which ones do I need to use? What skills do others have that I can use?
Tools: What tools will be helpful here? Where can I find them?
Contacts: What people in the team can bring something to help? Who do I know in my network that can help?
If you have got this far in the blog, then maybe you are wondering what the result of ‘with all that I have’ was with the MG & its exhaust? . . . The car is booked in with the local garage, one of my contacts, on Wednesday. Sometimes, it’s good to ‘phone a friend’!
If you would like help to discover what the best of you could be, or want to arrange a coaching conversation, then do get in contact with me for a no-obligation conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can help you to be the best that you could be!