Home  Habits

Why We Get Back To Nature

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You can see the stress oozing away. The frowns seem to dissolve too.

Considering that 50% of Bridgeworks’ programs are outdoors, nature needs to take a fair chunk of responsibility for the significant changes people experience on these journeys.

However, there could be science behind it.

We know that Nature has healing and restorative powers, but how does the healing actually happen?

First of all, nature provides a great stress relief by enabling you to remove yourself – both physically and mentally – from the things that cause you stress in the first place: office, family, relationships, etc.

And while being outdoors won’t make problems go away, it will help you relax and see the bigger picture. Being away from your everyday environment gives you a different perspective on things. Just looking at a problem from a different angle, helps you find a solution or at least an opportunity to come up with a different approach.

Nature is a great healer and absorber of negativity. To tap into its healing power all we need to do is tune-in and reconnect with where we once belonged.

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Helping Farmers get the Edge

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Last month Wayne was asked to work with some of the top performing dairy and beef farmers in South Australia. Some of these farms have up to 25 staff and herds of over 1,000 cattle.

For 3 days we worked together exploring how their leadership can turn their respective workers into ‘Professional Teams’. The most significant highlight for them was understanding the difference between managing people and leading them.

There were a lot of laughs but equally a lot of learning. Even the greatest technicians are not necessarily the greatest coaches. For many of these farmers, this was the missing link in taking their farms to the next level of performance and production.

The fact they all wanted to develop themselves as leaders, highlights why they are at the top of their industry.

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Do people really trust you as a Leader?

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Logical Engineering

I’m not saying engineers can’t lead people, but the bottom line is engineering is logical, people are not. Management is also more about logic, i.e. budgets, resources, ROI, where leadership is more about emotions, trust and respect – you don’t think trust, you feel trust.

So what do YOU need to do to be more successful as a leader not just a manager?

Consider the following:

You might be your team’s manager, but would your team vote for you as their leader? Titles mean nothing when it comes to leadership.

When was the last time you looked in your leadership mirror? Do you really know the impact you are having on your team?

Note: At the risk of over generalising and offending a whole group of engineers, I will point out before I start that these observations are not meant as judgements and are based on all the wonderful engineers and asset management professionals I’ve worked with over the past 20 years.

Engineers and Asset Management professionals are generally very process oriented, data driven and logical. They are usually confident of their decisions because they are backed up by quality data. While these are all great characteristics, they’re not necessarily characteristics that develop good relationships.

I often see highly technically proficient people being singled out for their excellent work and suddenly given a team to manage. The organisation will say, “Actually, you’re very competent at this process, so therefore we are promoting you to be the team leader.” Immediately the skillset required changes completely. Those highly technical skills honed over many years have to be shifted towards people skills – understanding a group of people who each have different motivations, personalities and egos.

  • The real challenge is that people no longer want to be ‘managed’
  • People want good leadership.  Do you know the difference between ‘managing’ & ‘leading’?
  • You might be your team’s manager, but would they vote for you as their leader?

Here are four questions that will dictate your personal, leadership and team effectiveness.

1. Why does your leadership style work with some people but not with others?

  • When was the last time you looked in your leadership mirror?
  • Do you understand the impact you have on your team members and colleagues.?
  • Are you a bridge ‘burner’ or a bridge ‘builder’? This is where the name of our organisation, Bridgeworks, originated. Exploring how well you build bridges with people.

It takes courage to look in the leadership mirror, but then again leadership is about courage. Those that need to look in the mirror the most, resist the most.

One process we use is called ‘How Others See Me’. It’s not like the classic 360 feedback tool, which measures what you do.  How Others See Me measures more who you are – your behaviour, your attitudes, how you build trust and your interpersonal effectiveness.

2. Have you thought about what motivates you, compared to what motivates your staff, family, others?

  • Do you understand that you can only motivate yourself, but you can influence others – positively or negatively?
  • We are not talking about ‘rah-rah’ extrinsic motivation more intrinsic motivation – what gets you out of bed in the morning.
  • What drives you, what drives your team, what drives your teenage kids!!

Dr William Marston back in the 1920s wrote a book called Emotions of Normal People. He was fascinated at how people behave differently, and in particular how the Greeks 2,000 years ago went about classifying behaviour. If you were a direct, confident, strong-willed person, you were called ‘choleric’, whereas if you were someone that’s more laid-back and ‘She’ll be right mate’ you were seen as more ‘phlegmatic’.

In the 1960s Dr John Geier, developed the ‘DISC profile’ based on Dr Marston’s principles. Since then over 50 million people globally have used DISC to help them understand why people do what they do. We will be exploring this tool during my session at Mainstream Conference.

3. Do you understand the real difference between management and leadership?

You manage ‘things’ but you lead ‘people’. Both are important – a job or project has to be done, but people need to be engaged in the process.

How well do you engage others?

As mentioned earlier management is more about logic, where as leadership is more about emotions. In your past have you worked in what you considered was a good job but with a poor leader? Their technical skills and process was excellent but people skills lacking. I’m sure this environment didn’t get the best out of you.

4. Do you understand why being trustworthy does not always build trust?

Do understand that people build trust differently? What are your strengths and weaknesses in building trust?

Many people in senior management roles assume their role makes them a leader.

Leadership has nothing to do with your management title, the size of your office or even your MBA.

IQ does not correlate with emotional intelligence (EQ).  Leadership is an EQ skill and it should be seen as a ‘special gift’ from your ‘followers’ based on trust and respect, not position power or formal appointments.

You may believe that you are ‘trustworthy’, but why is it that some may NOT trust you?

To simplify ‘How to build trust’ we will be working through a powerful model – ‘The 4 Elements of Trust’. This provides a logical system in understanding how best to build trust with others. Elements include; straightforwardness, openness, reliability and acceptance. We all have a preference for certain elements.

Ask yourself these simple 4 questions above. Quality leaders continually do this. They are prepared to learn, be more open to change and be able to build a climate of trust and respect with their teams. Their leadership harnesses the best from their teams and stakeholders.

Isn’t that what we all want?

You can hear more from Wayne Dyson at Mainstream Conference in March 2017 (in Melbourne and Perth). Join him for a 2.5 hour interactive workshop “Engineering is Logical, People Are Illogical” – People Skills for Engineering Managers” to discover a logical, practical, easy to use system to understand yourself and others you work with.


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You don’t need the best people. You need the best team.

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There are now more books on leadership than ever, many highly researched as to what works and what doesn’t work.

Are we better for it? I’m tempted to say “No”.

In some cases, due to people’s fixation on Social media, we’ve slipped back a number of pegs in my view. The focus tends to be more about self than overall business.

Enter Western Bulldogs and their gutsy AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final win on the weekend. Their first in 62 years.

Even if you are not into sport, look no further to see:

  • the power of collaboration,
  • the power of commitment to each other,
  • the power of commitment to the customer (loyal supporters of a club that took 60 years to reach their pinnacle)
  • the energy and result when people truly work and lead together


The 22 players were not the best 22 in the league, but they were the best ‘Professional Team’ in the league. Guts, determination, never say die attitude.

Many businesses I work with I would describe as  “Teams of Professionals” –  a ‘collection’ of people very good at what they do (in fact, many at the top of their field), but not focussed on the passion and result of collaboration. Wanting passionately to work as a “Professional Team”.

Managers are often more concerned about their Division or their personal ‘Branding’ rather than showing passion for overall business performance.

Many Executive teams need to take note of how the Western Bulldogs beat all the odds:

  • Only team to win the Grand Final from 7th on the league ladder
  • Were plagued with injuries all year
  • Lost their Captain for the season in the 3rd game of the competition
  • Had a virtual replacement of key staff in the last 3 years – Captain, coach and significant on ground players.

What can we learn as a business?

  • Personal egos need to be put aside for the team
  • In everything we do, learn & practice – team is first, personal focus is second
  • Leaders need to be humble – Bulldogs coach, Luke Beverage was a quiet, unassuming man who when presented with his Grand Final medal, immediately gave it away to injured Captain Bob Murphy.
  • Think long term, rather than short term gains. For Beverage, he is already looking at how the team and club can sustain their success for many years. That dictates his thinking and attitude. Does it dictate yours or are you forced by shareholders to deliver the best short term return?
  • The critical nature of language. Words easily build people up or tear them down. Virgin Airlines, even behind closed doors, refers to passengers as “guests” not as a “pax”. I like that.

If your “Why?” is strong enough, you will find the will and energy to build your ‘team of professionals’ into a ‘Team of Professionals’. It’s only an attitude away!

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Are you getting your Vitamin “F”? (F=Friends)

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This great message was passed onto me by one of my “Iceberger” friends and I thought it had a powerful message:

At a recent meeting of a club I am part of, a member spoke briefly on the subject of friends. This gentleman is in his mid eighties and his eloquence is not surprising given he is a retired QC.

I was so taken by his brief but powerful message that I thought I’d share it with you. It is a reminder to us all that in this world we have nothing if we don’t have friends.

He said: “Real Age doctors tell us that friends are good for our health. I call them Vitamin F (the F is for friends). I count the benefits of friends as essential to my well-being.

Research shows that people in strong social circles have less risk of depression and terminal strokes. If you enjoy Vitamin F constantly, you can be up to 30 years younger than your real age. The warmth of a friendship stops stress and, even in your most intense moments, it decreases the chance of cardiac arrest or stroke by up to 50%. 

We should try to see the funny side of things and laugh together and pray for each other at the tough moments. Some of my friends are online. I know I am part of their lives because their names often appear on my computer screen and I feel blessed that they care as much for me as I care for them. The most beautiful thing about friendship is that we can grow separately without growing apart

Each of my friends helps to bring out a different part of me. With one of them, I am polite. With another, I joke. With another, I can be a bit naughty and I can sit down and talk about serious matters with others. With another I laugh a lot and with yet another, I listen to his problems. Some even listen to my problems.

My friends are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. When completed, they form a treasure box – a treasure box of friends. My friends often understand me better than I understand myself. They are friends who support me through good days and bad. 

I’m so happy that I have a stock of Vitamin F. In summary, we should value our friends and keep in touch with them. I hope you also had some Vitamin F today.”

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did and that it reinforced the importance of friends in all our lives.

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“God” does exist!

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He’s found in many workplaces where a management title has allowed the ego to take over.

The fiasco with Bronwyn Bishop reminds me so much about many managers I deal with. Having their title means that they are now “God” or the font of all knowledge, having all the rights under the sun.

A great way to build a high stress, 60-hour week, where your people are disengaged and spend more time on seek.com!

Jim Collins in his book “Great by choice” highlights that a person’s attitude rather than their knowledge is the best measure of a leader:

“Change is accelerating, uncertainty is permanent, and chaos is common. Yet some leaders and entrepreneurs navigate these conditions exceptionally well. They don’t merely react; they create. They don’t merely survive; they prevail. They don’t merely succeed; they thrive”

One of the most powerful tools used on our unique Leadership NOW program is our “interpersonal flexibility” measure. It is a game changer for many people – like being hit in the head with a piece of “4 be 2”.

If you have a title ensure that you DO allow opportunity for plenty of “How Others See me” feedback. Both formal and informal feedback is critical for keeping your leadership sharp and on track.

For some strange reason this also engages people to create fun, productive workplaces where ideas, innovation and trust thrive.

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How do you define happiness using brain research?

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I recently attended a conference in Sydney in my search to determine how brain function effects our leadership and relationships.

What attracted me to this event was that the program, called “Search Inside Yourself” began at Google through one of their software engineers, Chade Meng Tan.

It became a powerful process as to helping building personal happiness and success translating to Google’s success (and we all want a piece of that action!) The key according to Tan is your ability to be more ‘mindful’ – increasing the ‘bandwidth’ between the Thinking Brain and the Emotional Brain.

Due to the Neuroplasticity, (our own ability to train our brains) we can have greater control over our response to any stimulus. Training the brain is as simple as Stop, Breathe (deep breaths – you know, the old ‘count to 10’), Noticing, Reflect and THEN Respond.

This puts science behind why it is important to set clear goals and objectives. If you don’t, someone else will for you!

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Do You Back Yourself?

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In 1963, Bob Clifford was awarded the apprentice of the year award for printing. He began his boat building business in his backyard before expanding it to a commercial operation.

Clifford was both an innovator and entrepreneur. Although he made many more mistakes than you and I combined, he backed himself. He never ‘made mistakes’ just ‘discovered’ learning opportunities.

Clifford founded the INCAT (International Catamaran ferries) business based in Hobart Tasmania, which now build 100m high-speed, wave piercing catamaran ferries supplying world markets. One of his blackest ‘learning opportunities’ was in 1994 accidentally running aground his 40 million dollar catamaran Condor II on Blackjack Rock on the Derwent River.

He found doing business on a gentleman’s handshake, built on relationship and trust rather than complicated legal contracts was more his style. Particularly on major projects with the Chinese who, in business, tended to value relationships over contracts. He used what many described as an “authentic leadership style”

Clifford surrounded himself with loyal employees passionate about the business, encouraged to innovate. It seems very few, if any employees were sacked or laid off from INCAT – even during very lean years.

He had built a community of people all aligned to the cause: being the best, challenging past ideas and taking risks along the way.

…. and of course backing yourself!

Would people call you authentic? Do people trust you and your leadership? Why not discover how you shape up to these important qualities?

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Values Posters – Pathetic or Practical?

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Take down your VALUES posters. You know, the ones that say how much “Integrity” or “Teamwork” etc you display.

Unless your staff can put their hands on their hearts and say that you, as their manager/leader, live and breathe what these posters articulate – leave the wall blank.

Otherwise they will do MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD.

I just finished a teleconference with graduates from our recent Leadership NOW program. We all agreed that VALUES statements on display do more harm than good if such values are NOT lived and breathed by leadership. Until the evidence reinforces such values, leave the wall blank.

How do you know whether you live and breathe your corporate VALUES? It starts by having the courage to ask the people you lead open and honest feedback (that’s if the trust is there). It’s called ‘looking in the mirror’ and highlights how people see your behaviours, actions and attitudes.

Remember, leadership is not necessarily about being nice. It’s about being HOW you communicate, what level you respect others including your effort to continually engage and include others in decision-making.

How good you are at getting worker’s brains out of the carpark and into your business?

This is the focus of our next Leadership NOW program on Lady Elliot Island in October.

Join us if you have the courage!

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Building Best Culture Requires Lateral Thinking

I love this story from the Smart Company newsletter.

Risky stuff, but a great long term investment in Building a Culture that attracts the best.

Coffee giant Starbucks has announced it will foot the bill for online university education for thousands of its employees in the US.

The coffee chain launched a new program yesterday which will pay for its employees to attend online classes at Arizona State University.

Although the company has struggled in Australia, the US arm of Starbucks has been acclaimed for its human resource tactics in the past.

The program is open to any of the company’s 135,000 staff based in the US and working in its company-operated stores, support centres and plants, provided they work at least 20 hours a week and have the test scores to gain admission to Arizona State.

It will allow employees to finish a bachelor’s degree from a choice of 40 undergraduate programs delivered online through the top-ranked University. Juniors and seniors will earn full tuition reimbursement for each semester of full-time coursework they complete toward a bachelor’s degree, while freshmen and sophomores will be eligible for a partial tuition scholarship and need-based financial aid for two years of full-time study. 

Staff will have no commitment to remain at the company past graduation.

“I believe it will lower attrition, it’ll increase performance, it’ll attract and retain better people,” Starbucks CEO Howard D Schultz told The New York Times.

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