Competence Quadrants

Creating a Learning Culture

Leaders may think that getting their organisations to learn is only a matter of articulating a clear plan, giving employees the right incentives, and providing lots of training. Well, in this era discontinuous change this assumption is not only flawed—it’s risky in the face of changing competition, advances in technology, and shifts in what our customer expect.

So, does your organisation have a learning culture?

Do you have a process in which you strive to improve your performance, to detect and correct errors and adapt to your environment? Learning is the key characteristic as it enables the organisation to sense changes and to adapt accordingly in the face of an increasingly discontinuous environment.

Working with organisations that have varied cultures reveals that there are two basic attitudes which inform a company’s approach to learning:

  • Compliance with mandatory legislation and industry regulators.
  • A desire to improve performance, morale, explore human potential, attract, develop and retain talent, create a learning, questioning culture and drive innovation.

If you’re simply completing training for compliance sake – sorry, it doesn’t mean you have a ‘learning culture’. So before we examine why a ‘learning culture’ is important, let’s be clear on what we mean by ‘learning’.

 Learning (particularly as an adult) must involve the following:

1. An active, participative process – adults learn through problem-solving and doing

2. There should be less emphasis on ‘teaching’ than on supporting and facilitating the growth of people through their processing of information into knowledge, values and skills (that’s what an experienced a coach provides)

3. Adult Learning involves:

  • Questioning
  • Problem solving
  • Developing the full potential of employees
  • Fostering an innovative and responsive environment
  • Idea sharing to stimulate and develop best practice
  • Learning events followed by ongoing coaching, to continually better performance
  • Mentoring and developing talent; continuously, and with an eye on the future (succession planning)
  • Developing successful habits via the process of learning
  • A mindset of ongoing learning; for practical reasons,

In any organisation the ‘learning culture’ is crucial. It affects the capacity to remain agile to the changing needs of the market – to cater to the changing desires of its end users, and consequently its overall performance

 Here are nine reasons why you should be adopting a ‘learning culture’:

  1. Developing morale and motivation – being valued is crucial to your team’s satisfaction.
  2. To improve staff retention and lower costs. People may or may not leave your company – but do you want loyal, yet low morale, staff staying and only giving you some of their potential? Absenteeism and the associated Presenteeism can cost your organisation thousands or in some cases millions of dollars.
  3. Learning and development go hand in hand. Learning helps develop sound working practices aligned to organisational goals.
  4. Learning fosters understand and appreciation of other perspectives, critical in the changing expectations of our community
  5. Learning at a rate faster than change is critical. This can be seen in the large companies that have failed over the last decade – not changing will invariably kill you!
  6. Learning usually increases productivity – through efficiency gains
  7. Learning can produce an often massive return of investment
  8. People, service and attitude are increasingly important to organisational success. These factors differentiate you from your competition
  9. Learning and change are inextricably linked.

Are you convinced yet?
I’m an educator – so I’m biased, but the facts are pretty compelling you must admit!

To start, you must have some tangible ways of moving your organisation to one that focuses on learning as a vehicle for high performance, success and adaptability.

Here are two practical ways you can start that process right now…

1. Demonstrate the value of formal training.

Formal training has not gone away, and it still plays a huge role in career development and professional capacity building.

If you have lots of formal training available, managers should promote such opportunities and help people make time to learn. Yes, it might take them away from their jobs for a few days, but ultimately the return is much greater productivity and satisfaction.

As one of my high-performing clients put it: “we are paying our managers to develop people for the entire organisation. If I find them hogging the talent or preventing people from improving their skills, they won’t be in management for long.”

2. The Competence Model

Recognise people need development in 4 areas to impact on their capacity to learn something. Competence is made up of 4 distinct areas – all interwoven to impact on an individuals ability to do something effectively, these being:

  • Knowledge – understanding information/data/theory behind something
  • Experience – ‘the doing’ which requires trial and error, test & measure
  • Skills – practical, demonstrable ability in a given task
  • Behaviour – The want of belief that underpins an individual effort and ‘why.’

This graphic above explains how the competence model evolves as people learn


As a learning organisation, you can’t simply throw some training at people and hope they become amazing! You must know who your team is, where they have gaps, and fill these strategically.


3. Allow people to make mistakes.

The best learning occurs right after you make a huge mistake. These are the most important learning opportunities you, your team & your organisation has.

Take a lesson from the military, the largest learning organisation on the planet (they only do two things: fight and train – and most of the time it’s the latter). Whenever a manoeuvre is completed, there is always an “after-action review.” This is a formal process which forces the team to analyse what worked, what didn’t, and what processes will be changed to improve the outcome next time.

What happens in your organisation when someone fails or makes a mistake? Do you punish them? Or do you take the time to diagnose what happened and put formal programs in place to improve?

There are lots of ways to build a learning organisation, and they all get back to management. If you build a learning culture which gives people time to reflect, develop and share expertise, stay close to customers, and learn from mistakes you will outdistance your competition and thrive in the face of huge market change.

Take a lesson from companies like Apple and Google: two great examples of companies that have built expertise and promoted organisational learning, and look what they’ve achieved.

Next month I’ll be sharing my view of the manner in which we give and receive feedback – a critical element of anyone’s success in business!

6 Keys to Influence you weren’t taught at school

Only a lucky few have it; most of us do not. A handful of gifted ‘naturals’ simply know how to capture an audience, sway the undecided or covert the unconvertible. Watching these masters of persuasion do their thing is both impressive and frustrating at the same time!

What’s impressive is their ability to use charisma and genuine eloquence to convince others to think a certain way. It’s also how keen those around them are to follow their requests. I’m sure like me, you’re thinking of people with this natural talent right now?

The exciting thing I’m going to share with you is, you too can become an impressive influencer – and it’s not as hard as what you might first think.

You’re about to learn about 6 fundamental principles of influence that will have a profound impact on how you associate with others, and influence your team with confidence.

In the 80’s Psychologist Robert Cialdini developed the theory of influence, based on the principles of reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity.

1. Reciprocity

Give what you want to receive.

  • People repay in kind – and tend to return a favor, we feel uncomfortable if we ‘owe’ someone until we can return that favour.
  • Ever caught yourself smiling at a team mate just because they smiled at you first? You know how this principles works.
  • You can use reciprocity to your advantage with others by giving first and doing it in an unexpected way.

2. Commitment and Consistency

Make your commitments active, public and voluntary.

  • If people commit to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment – why? We all are drawn toward things that make us feel consistent and congruent in our behaviors and choices.
  • Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. Most people once they take a stand or go on record in favor of a position, prefer to stick to it

3. Social Proof

Use peer power whenever it’s available [ethically]

  • The most powerful principles is Social Proof or Consensus.
  • People follow the lead of similar others. We feel safe when part of a crowd of others people all thinking and believing the same thing – and safety is the most powerful driver in our lives.
  • For example, if one or more of you look up into the sky, others around you will then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing (try it!).
  • The recent Ice Bucket challenge going viral around the world is driven largely by social proof – an powerful example of peer power in action.
  • Advertisers use this every day to influence our buying habits, managers use it to make us feel our behaviors are unacceptable, social media like Facebook and others survive because of it.

4. Authority

People will general look to an expert – “what do they think?

  • Expose your expertise; don’t assume others see it the way you do!
  • People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform tasks they’d prefer not to perform. You will respond to a policeman or your school principal in a different manner to your husband or wife largely because of their authority.

5. Liking

People like those who like them.

  • Uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise
  • People are more easily persuaded by other’s they like. That’s why you’re more likely to buy from someone that’s happy, cheerful and talkative. Approaching your interactions with people with this in mind reinforces the need to develop genuine rapport and relationships with those around you.

6. Scarcity

People want more of what the can have less of.

  • Highlight unique benefits & exclusive information and build value & anticipation!
  • Perceived scarcity will generate demand. Managers can learn from retailers how to frame their offers not in terms of what people stand to gain, but in terms of what they will loose if they don’t act on the information.
  • For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales, or commitment from your team on an idea.

Putting it all together

There’s really nothing too obscure about the 6 principles, in fact all Cialdid did was codify our intuitive understanding of the ways people evaluate information and make their decisions. As a result, these principles are pretty easy to grasp.

The Practical Example…

When discussing the importance of experience with your staff or a new partner, I’d suggest managers use informal social conversations to establish their credentials. That same conversation allows the opportunity to gain information as well as providing it [people love to be heard].

While you’re showing them that you have the skills and experience your particular business problem demands, you can also learn about their background, like, dislikes – information that will help you identify genuine similarities and the opportunity to give sincere compliments. By letting your experience surface and also establishing rapport, you double your persuasive power.

Same conversation you will have had many times before, but combined with the power of persuasive design.


The Key to making them work for you is 2 fold:

A) You must be the student!

  • Make a deliberate [committed] decision to test each principle in your daily work.
  • Testing these will allow you to measure how you went.

B) You must be ethical

  • Not only is it ethically wrong to trick or trap others, it’s not good business practice, and people I’m glad to say can pick a phony!

Enjoy the benefits that come with being a person of influence, observe the way others change their approach to you, enjoy the increase in sales, conversion of customers, and the genuine value you can add to those you come into contact with every day!

Making more when ‘Networking’

Most of us find it difficult to find our place and hit the ‘effective extrovert’ button when networking, or meeting new people for the first time. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an easy way of changing all that?

Well there is!

How to turn small talk into big ideas at the next social event:

Ask for stories, not answers

One way to get beyond small talk is to ask open-ended questions. Aim for questions that invite people to tell stories, rather than give bland, one-word answers.

Instead of . . .
“How are you?”
“How was your day?”
“Where are you from?”
“What do you do?”
“What line of work are you in?”
“What’s your name?”
“How was your weekend?”
“What’s up?”
“Would you like some wine?”
“How long have you been living here?”

Try . . .
“What’s your story?”
“What did you do today?”
“What’s the strangest thing about where you grew up?”
“What’s the most interesting thing that happened at work today?”
“How’d you end up in your line of work?”
“What does your name mean? What would you like it to mean?”
“What was the best part of your weekend?”
“What are you looking forward to this week?”
“Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room?”
“What does this house remind you of?”
“If you could teleport by blinking your eyes, where would you go right now?”

Break the mirror

When small talk stalls out, it’s often due to a phenomenon we call “mirroring.” In our attempts to be polite, we often answer people’s questions directly, repeat their observations, or just blandly agree with whatever they say.

Mirrored example:
Nic: It’s a beautiful day!
Grant: Yes, it is a beautiful day!

See? By mirroring Nic’s opinion and language, Grant has followed the social norm, but he’s also paralyzed the discussion and missed a moment of fun. Instead, Grant needs to practice the art of disruption and move the dialogue forward:

Non-mirrored example:
Nic: It’s a beautiful day!
Grant: They say that the weather was just like this when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. If that actually happened.

See? Now Nic and Grant are talking! Be provocative. Absurdity is underrated.

Go ahead, be bold. Up end the dinner table conversation! Turn small talk into big ideas at the next business event you to attend!

with thanks to TED Ideas

Master Stroke


Though my 20’s whilst studying human movement at UTAS, like most of my peers I participated in excessive binge drinking most weekends. Not thinking anything of it, this was the central part of any social event. We’d get drunk, run a muck and behave like complete idiots unaware of what we were doing to our bodies.

In March 2013 I experienced something most never have – I was given life’s golden ticket – surviving an ischaemic stroke caused by a bloody clot in the base of my brain stem.

An event like this makes you sit up and consider your life in quite a different way, a purposeful way, and a way that leads to your life really meaning something.

Now only a year off 40, many of my friends are experiencing the sadness and loss associated with loosing a loved one. Having seen this from my own eyes [as the one almost departed] – it seems more important now than any other time in my life to step up … step up and be counted … to influence others… and to lead.

That’s why I teach, coach and inspire leaders in our community to achieve lasting results.

My strategy is simple… share the messages that matter!

Want to know more?

It’ll only cost you the price of a coffee…

The Leadership Formula

The art of leading your team to success with confidence

So you’ve landed yourself a promotion, taken a step up in the pecking order and finally made it! Everything feels like it’s coming together, and as you drive home that night after another long day you’re feeling the anticipation of things to come (I remember being there myself many times!).

On your way in to work the next day it finally hits you… what have you got yourself into, “I can’t lead others, I don’t know where to start”

Thousands of people in the Tasmanian workforce are promoted into positions of leadership without any real direction, support or formal training. In many cases it’s the individual that performs best in technical work that is promoted into a position leading others doing that technical work.

As a new manager and leader of people the role might seem overwhelming and daunting, there is however a simple formula that if followed will mean you can lead your new team to success with confidence.

In this whitepaper, let me share 5 Secrets of Leadership, especially if you’re starting out – these are a great place to start. Click HERE for more


Learning the EFFECTIVE way

When I think about learning, I’m reminded of a time when I first started teaching.

Fresh out of uni – I had a somewhat simplistic view of how things work, full of knowledge and theory, confident that the understanding I’d developed from 4 years of emersion and direction from “learned professors” would see me in good stead in a classroom …. how wrong was I!

Now – 16 years later, a realistic view of learning has emerged.

Learning occurs when a combination of elements are satisfied:

A – It must be relevant to YOU (you are juiced about things you find interesting aren’t you?) You must have a compelling reason as to WHY you’re doing it!

B – It needs to include a combination of Knowledge (information), Discussion (context), Skill development (practical application), and Repetition in the form of experience…

C – Knowledge must be applicable to the context (your situation), and inspire you to THINK about how they link

The list could go on… but you get the picture.

If you want to experience something a bit different – and actually learn something of real value – check out for an idea of the inspiration we make available.

Click HERE for more: