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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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Do Accountants Make Good Leaders?

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Not usually when it comes to motivating or inspiring people – but there are exceptions. I know some great leaders who have finance background.

You would think accountants and finance professionals have an edge over other professions when it comes to leadership in business.

The language of business matters now. If you can’t speak finance, it’s very hard for you to be a CEO or senior leader. The catch is accountants and finance professionals might have to unlearn some of the things that made them experts in the first place to make successful transitions to leaders.

In fact, my experience is that unless they have a high level of emotional intelligence, they can be ‘interpersonally inflexible’ and too controlling or tendency to micromanage.

As an accountant you are not meant to make mistakes, take risks and always focus on detail. Good leaders tend to make more mistakes, take several risks and see the big picture rather than the micro detail.

According to research from Dr Byron Hanson from Curtin Graduate School of Business in Perth there are 5 critical changes or transitions that will accelerate the journey to successful leadership:

  • 1. Moving from being the expert to leveraging expertise - Accountants pride their expertise, but despite what some people think you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to be a good leader.
  • 2. Moving from the apprenticeship model to a coaching model - its good to help hone a learners technical skills – a leader is more a coach, less doing, more motivating and influencing
  • 3. Moving from being a reporter to a translator - providing the numbers is no longer how they add value – leaders need to ‘create meaning’
  • 4. From having the right answer to navigating multiple answers - Finance professionals are taught to see problems as complicated but having a correct answer – they need to unleash their thinking a bit!
  • 5. Moving from being a value protector to a value creator - learn how to create wealth, rather than to think in terms of being risk-averse and a protector of wealth

I have worked with many very powerful leaders with finance backgrounds. Not only do they have the critical financial insights but a high level of knowing when to lead, when to manage. All of this comes back to their ability to stop and look in their leadership mirror.

(Some references made from Tony Malkovic’s article in Acuity “Five changes that will make you an exceptional leader”)

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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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Failing to confront the bully

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You don’t need to go too far back in history to see what happens if we don’t confront ‘bully behaviour’.

We can easily blame Hitler for what he did. But up until when he committed his atrocities during WW2, few people and even countries failed to keep him to account.

It is claimed that this is what Britain and France did with Hitler in the 1930s.  

Hitler built up his army.   After 1936, he reintroduced conscription, and by 1939 Germany had 95 warships, 8,250 airplanes and an army of 1m..  Hitler even war-tested his armed forces in the Spanish Civil War.   Britain and France turned a blind eye to these breaches of the Treaty of Versailles – Britain even made a naval agreement with Germany, accepting Germany’s right to a navy 35% of the British navy.   

Using the DISC behavioural system, Hitler could be seen as employing RED/negative “D” (Dominant/Decisive) behaviour.

The least effective way to handle this bully behaviour is to appease, rather than confront – usually RED “S” (Steady/Supportive) behaviour. I believe people who exhibit D behaviour appreciate more being confronted that people pandering to their controlling nature.

I see this all too often in business, people would rather ‘keep the peace’ rather than call people to account.

In the end everyone loses.

Confrontation coming from a value base usually ends up a win-win for all – BLUE behaviour all around! It’s not usually the easiest action to take – that’s why it takes leadership to enact.

Next time when you see bully behaviour, before you decide to appease you may need to show some leadership, speak up, take action.

Good luck! 

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Boyhood to Manhood – Transitions in Life

As Westerners we do a pretty poor job of introducing our boys to manhood.

By the time my youngest boy Zac was about to turn 13, I thought of a couple of things I could do to help him journey from ‘boyhood to manhood’.

I didn’t think they were all that special, but this story came up when I was having coffee with Gareth Andrews of ‘Life Again’ – a foundation that targets men who struggle with transitions in life.

Our discussion highlighted that we are mostly ill prepared for these transitions, not just as ‘young men’ but also when we ‘retire’ or even when at 40 we may be married, have a family, mortgage and yet also have many unfulfilled goals.

Zac was nearly the end of his 12th year on this planet. I said I would take him to breakfast for his 13th Birthday. As he was dressed in school uniform he thought we would be going around the corner.

Instead we headed to Avalon Airport – “I’m taking you to Sydney for breakfast” (I had packed a bag for him which was concealed in the boot) – “school can wait!”

That night we did the Twilight Bridge climb over Sydney Harbour and the next day canyoning in the Blue Mountains before heading home!

A day or so later, I got together a bunch of my special mates together and invited Zac as the special guest. Although we did talk about a lot of light stuff, my mates talked about the challenges (and delights) about being a bloke.

The highlight for me was my good friend Bill Sayers who handed $100 cash to Zac and said, “Take your mum out somewhere special for dinner”

I’ve always remembered Bill’s generousity and clear message to Zac to always respect and honour his mum.

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Leadership? Of what?

“Leadership” is a word that is overused.

What are you leading anyway? Yourself? Others? Your business? Your family?

Maybe it’s time to review what we mean by ”Leadership”. Should our focus be more on ‘culture’?

My business, Bridgeworks essentially works with ‘people of influence’. People that help shape the lives of those around them.

In fact, isn’t leadership just a tool to help shape or influence an environment or culture? Surely this could be family, home, business, local community, nation or even global.

What is it like walking into your workplace? Does it inspire? Do you get fired up or let down? Is it dictated by the way you are managed? Is it fun?

Is your imagination as to let lose or are your ‘brains left in the car park’? Are you just another cog in the business machine? Pity.

As Stephen Covey said in “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” – ‘Begin with the end in mind”. Thus let’s define the business culture that gets you inspired and firing on all cylinders!

What sort of leadership would that take?

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