Home  Team effectiveness

Lessons in Happiness – From the Third World

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In my team, I have some exciting people. Peter Jensen and I have worked together for over 10 years and recently have developed an excellent program around Mental Wellbeing – “It’s all about me. It’s all about us”

Much of the program is built on a book Pete has written, “Lessons in Happiness – From the Third World”. It’s a powerful reflection from his childhood experiences living in a South African village and coming to the land of ‘milk and honey’ – Australia.

Depression, anxiety or stress

Did you know that the cost of mental ill-health in Australia is around 4 per cent of GDP or about $4,000 from every taxpayer? It costs the nation more than $60 billion.

Everybody seems to know somebody who has been impacted by depression, anxiety or stress. Have you ever felt helpless, not known what to do next or overwhelmed by self-help programs that seem like too much hard work?

Healthy and productive workplaces 

As Pete and myself are passionate about building engaged, healthy and productive workplaces we have been overwhelmed with the feedback from this program.

What are you doing to build mental wellbeing in your life or your business? Reach out if you need us!

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Building a Growth Mindset

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Kurt Hahn was a German educator and a key figure in the development of experiential education.

In 1934 he founded the famous Gordonstoun school in Scotland. Additionally, he founded the Outward Bound movement and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

To this day his philosophies have far-reaching international influence that has stood the test of time.

Bridgeworks is strongly influenced by the philosophy held by Hahn:  building courageous and compassionate leaders.

Hahn believed that students could only really understand life by experiencing it in many exciting and challenging ways. By testing themselves, students would be able to develop their courage, generosity, imagination, principles and resolution.

Ultimately they would develop the skills and abilities to become the guardians and leaders of the future. Kurt Hahn’s philosophies also founded Outward Bound and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Bridgeworks programs are 50% delivered in the outdoors.

Challenging scenarios are smartly designed to challenge mindsets, encourage courageous conversations and build effective leaders and teams.

When did you or your team last do that?

Return email or call Wayne to find out more.

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3 Heads are Better than One – Hewlett Packard

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While the formal partnership of Hewlett-Packard was between Dave and Bill, David’s wife Lucile’s contributions placed an indelible stamp on the human face of HP. Her husband, in the dedication to his 1995 book, “The HP Way,” cited her encouragement and participation in the early years as the genesis of the HP Way

We all know that 2 heads are better than one when it comes to finding solutions, overcoming barriers and being innovative. We all need to find our own “Lucile”.

I always look for ways to broaden my view of an idea. When I do, I like to do this with people who challenge but encourage at the same time. As we get more time poor why muck around with people who just always want to agree with your ideas?

For example, I have recently joined an accredited group of consultants called NCP (Network Consulting Professionals). Many members are past CEO’s, CFO’s and senior executives. It’s a powerful team who help me add more value to my client offering.

Be smart. Think of who you can work with – ideally someone different to you. Let them give you honest feedback around the culture you create because of your leadership (or lack of).

Remember though, if they don’t  ‘rattle your cage’ you are most likely wasting your time.

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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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We Can Do That! (The Payoff When Collaboration Becomes the Priority)

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We often hear the joke about council workers ‘leaning on their shovels’.

You could not get further from the truth with an inner suburban Council’s Works Depot team.

Nearly 10 years ago I received a call from their manager who wanted to take action to improve the collaboration of his crew of around 30. The team regularly partners with Bridgeworks to build this ‘working together’ attitude.

It’s amazing what happens when you invite the ‘brains from out of the car park’ and into the workplace.

Their commitment to learning, including getting along with others and building trust amongst their team has led to stellar results including:

  • Saving council over $1,000,000 in the first 15 months alone by making and installing signs in-house.
  • Saving over $200 per tonne treating drainage waste in-house at their own purpose built facility.
  • Scoring a perfect 100% twice in their CMP road management plan audits, thus reducing council’s insurance premiums… to name a few wins

All these ideas generated by team members (not leaning on their shovels!)

This caught the eye of their new CEO who was invited to attend the morning session:

“The depot is really leading the way in this as a department, and you and your coordinators deserve to be commended for the culture you inspire in your team.

Well done to you all – it was a delightful, inspiring, thoughtful and fun morning – thank you for inviting me!” 

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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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The Business Culture Trust Matrix: What Builds a Great Business?

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Profit and productivity are directly linked to business culture. It follows that culture is directly linked to leadership. Leadership can either destroy or restore culture. The Bridgeworks process puts a ‘hard edge’ on the ’soft’ people skills by measuring organisational and leadership health.

Destruction of Organisational or Team Culture
- How Culture is Destroyed

Everyone wants to work in a ‘Win-Win’ environment. This includes open, honest conversations and working together for the greater business cause. But first, let’s explore how a good culture turns bad…


However poor leadership breaks down this productive, engaged culture.

As culture deteriorates, employees will take one of two ‘downward’ routes. These are based on whether the company puts them first or they put themselves first (self-centered) or whether ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t’ trust the business.

You may have a high performing, self starter who provides exceptional results. For them the team may come second as they put themselves first. Eventually that ‘self-centred’ approach leads to a lose-lose work environment as fewer people choose to work with that person.

People loyal and honourable to the business tend to continue to put the business first. These people become disillusioned if they feel the loyalty and support is not returned. Disillusionment turns into self-preservation. The end result is again ‘lose-lose’.

Restoration of Organisational or Team Culture
– Bridgeworks Restoration Process

What are the issues holding us back from being a high performing leadership and organisational team? What are the honest conversations avoided because of political correctness or wanting to keep the peace? What is the vision we have for our business? Do we have one? If so, is it communicated?  Does it excite and engage staff & stakeholders? 

We may have good managers, but what we need in a thriving culture are good leaders. 

The real challenge is that people no longer want to be “managed”. People want good leadership.  You might be your team’s manager, but would they vote for you as their leader?

The first step may be to have the courage to ‘face the facts’. To admit that there are issues or challenges. An even bigger step of courage is to admit that you may have been responsible! Those managers that need to look in the mirror the most, resist the most.

Bridgeworks uses a process 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.

If you want maverick performers in your business or team, you need to keep them accountable to the team’s agreed acceptable and non-acceptable behaviours. For your more loyal and honourable employees to be at full potential, you need to prove that any leadership attitudes and behavioural changes are real.

Acting on the data and feedback in the way you are now leading your team, your business, your behaviour proovides the best insurance for restoring culture. 

Thorugh a combination of personal and team action plans a positive road map is established taking the business forward.

Contact us to discuss how we can help your team move forward!

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Bonuses & the Brain

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Want a bonus? Rather than check your IQ, check your EQ (Emotional Intelligence).

The other day, Beyond Blue Chairman, Jeff Kennett addressed a forum of senior business executives calling for performance bonuses of Chief Executives to be partially tied to the mental wellbeing for their employees.

Neuroscientists, studying the impact of stress on the brain, have built a clear case for a new approach to leadership: one that involves a nuanced approach that adapts to the needs of individuals.

Forget ‘feel good’, this is about productivity and results

According to PwC, Mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10.9 Billion each year, according to Safe Work Australia. This staggering figure includes time lost from low performance, absenteeism and compensation payments.*

Here’s one way to get over 100% return in your dollar spent. PwC research also highlights that for every dollar spent on mental health a minimum of $2.30 is returned (up to $5.70 in some industries).

Having a clearer insight into your leaders’ and organisations’ health is the starting point – an effective platform to start with is Bridgeworks’ Organisational & Team Health check. and exploring your DISC profile or effectiveness as a leader.

Call 03 9585 7990 today if you would like a free trial of this powerful workplace health diagnostic.

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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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“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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