Adaptive Leadership: the key to performance in your organisation

July 21, 2016 3:33 pm
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There’s no doubt about it – great leaders are key to retention. Studies show that leaders with a high level of emotional intelligence contribute to their employee’s creativity and job satisfaction. Conversely, employees will disengage and become cynical when they perceive “value erosion” or a lack of authenticity from their leaders. The question then becomes “why do some leaders help their organisations to flourish while others fail?”. What traits and behaviours separate the successful leaders – those with satisfied, creative and ultimately high performing teams – from those that don’t? It turns out that there is much more to read on the topic than the musings of top CEO’s. Psychology shows us that it is adaptive and flexible leadership which generates true organisational success.

The aim of any business leader is to move the organisation forward. There is always some way in which an organisation can change for the better. The styles of leadership which can be used to achieve this fall into some rather broad categories:

  • Transformational leaders: The inspirational visionaries who lead by example and challenge those around them to do better every day
  • Transactional leaders: The more traditional leaders who encourage good performance with rewards (contingent reward type leaders) and discourage poor performance with punishments (management by exception).
  • Laissez-faire leaders: The coaches, those who empower their employees by allowing them to make their own decisions. This leader provides their employees with guidance rather than rewards or punishments.

But which type of leader is best for organisational performance? Should those in management positions lead, drive or coach their teams to achieve continuous business improvement? The answer lies in the behaviours that the organisation needs their employees to embody.

Employees exhibit different behaviours when faced with different leadership styles. The most beneficial to the organisation is that of genuine emotion. Here, the employee resonates with the aims of the leader and organisation on a deep and true level, and they act to bring these to fruition accordingly. Second is “deep acting”. In this instance, the person truly wants to resonate with the vision of the organisation. They wilfully change their internal perspectives and emotions to bring them in line with what is expected. Finally, “surface acting” is when a person fakes the emotional state that the organisation wants them to display (ie. when your barista wishes you a pleasant day after you’ve just ordered your soy, decaf, caramel mocha latte in a mug…).

So which leaders provoke which behaviours? You can probably guess that transformational leadership is a predictor of genuine emotion and deep acting. Transactional leaders tend to generate both deep and surface acting amongst employees. A laissez-faire leader predicts genuine emotion in the worker.

The answer implies that we should fill our businesses with inspirational coaches… but this will have its detriments. Despite the emotional labour that is implied through surface acting, burnout in employees is most associated with genuine emotion. And we cannot neglect the effect of personal preference of leadership style on the employee. The reality is that some people prefer authoritative leadership, whilst others prefer trainers and mentors.

Adaptive leadership is the true key to organisational success. Leaders must be able to exhibit different leadership styles at the appropriate times – a great leader has the ability to inspire, and coach, and reward their people. Most importantly, they know which situations demand which skills. Successful businesses utilise people who inspire genuine emotion without burning through the talent they have nurtured. They are flexible enough to tailor their offering to their employees because ultimately, it is the workers who create value within the business. In summary, train your leaders to be flexible to limber up your business for success.


Written by Selina Foo, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd


Ronald A. Heifetz, Marty Linsky, Alexander Grashow, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World, Harvard Business Press, 2013, ISBN: 1422131025, 9781422131022

So what do you do? Addressing the myths of a Consultant’s career

July 21, 2016 2:47 pm
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Pronunciation: /kənˈsʌlt(ə)nt/

Noun: A person who provides expert advice professionally.

While attending a recent dinner party I was inevitably confronted with the uninspired question of ‘so what do you do?’ As an Operations Consultant the question can trigger a range of responses from “so your good with Excel then?” to the ultimate conversation killer, “I don’t like consultants”.

A lot of people don’t really know what it is that Operations Consultants actually do.

So, hopefully I can take this opportunity to dispel some of the myths and answer some burning questions for anyone interested in venturing into Consultancy…

What’s in it for the client?

Unlike many Management Consultancy businesses, Coriolis offers our clients a bespoke project delivery package. This is because we see ourselves as much more than just Consultants and sector experts. At the centre of our business is client focus, which is why we never provide a predetermined set of solutions to a client’s challenges. Instead, we develop a bespoke offering to respond directly to the needs of our client, and we partner with them to challenge conventional thinking and bring ideas to the table. We never really stop looking for ways to be smarter, leaner, more affordable and more than sustainable.

So on first meeting a new client, what happens next?

Once an initial understanding of our clients’ needs is established, we conduct a deep dive analysis into their business. Coriolis are renowned for their unique delivery as we work with the client delivering a project to build capability and sustainability. This helps everyone to realise the benefits identified during the analysis stage. The analysis is a great opportunity for Coriolis to develop significant insights into our client’s business, developing a compelling case which is based on facts.

Typically, an analysis is a period of high energy and short time frame delivery. As a Consultant you’ll work with other Consultants and Project Managers over a period of a few weeks to develop, prove or disprove your hypothesis.

The analysis phase of a project certainly lends itself to a highly analytical mind. If you relish the opportunity to challenge assumptions and replace them with factual information live from the shop floor, you’ll love the analysis phase.

Utilising the Coriolis toolkit, we focus on gathering real information through observation and scrutinising available data. This helps us to fully understand the opportunity to the bottom line for removing waste and realising cost savings. Diversifying our approach to form a connection with the shop floor to mine information from the ground up is key. Working across all functions gathering data and converting this into information is critical, as is presenting a clear and succinct opportunity in the business to senior stakeholders.

What about the projects themselves?

The crux of Coriolis’ offering is to work with the client to realise the opportunity available on site. Running a project while still requiring a strong analytical framework involves a wealth of skills.

Building capability, reducing waste and embedding a sustainable platform for the client to continue their journey post-Coriolis is the game. Strong project management, change management and stakeholder management are the tools.

As a Consultant you are not expected to be an expert in all fields (we leverage our network for that). However, you are effectively implementing Operations management tools which will allow the client to deploy their resource where it will add most value to their bottom line or desired focus area.

We utilise our analysis to identify opportunity, focus on the largest areas and build the capability of the site to realise future opportunities and inefficiencies analytically. We might need to build a sustainable Management Control and Reporting System, give a daily focus on KPIs within the business, or hold the site accountable to their targets.

Projects are diverse, ranging from efficiency improvements in high volume glass bottling lines, to optimising labour within a high-street clothes retailer. We might be called to utilise all manner of tools and strategies to assist the site in realising opportunities. Expect to become a facilitator, a fly on the wall, an assistance manager, a mentor, a coach and possibly most importantly of all, an outside perspective. Building strong relationships at all levels of a business, maintaining a positive can-do attitude, and embedding the behaviours which will allow the client to succeed in their journey make a successful Coriolis Consultant. All these elements align to ensure every day is hugely rewarding.

What else?

Outside of the day job, Coriolis offers Consultants much more than other Consultancy firms, or indeed other businesses in general. At some point in your career you’ve probably felt bogged down by an overbearing corporate structure. Given the option you might like to work in a flexible environment with the opportunity to travel and work in a range of industries and businesses. At Coriolis we work with inspiring leaders and high performing peers in an environment where significant growth opportunity is in your grasp and capability is rewarded. I know it sounds like a sales pitch from a recruiter’s job ad, but these are all the things I love about working at Coriolis.

“Every day is a school day” has never been more prevalent since I’m continually learning and developing myself across a range of disciplines. Couple that with being rewarded by the development of clients and the continued growth of our network throughout Australia.

I am proud to be part of Coriolis and always look forward to getting together with the team over a few cold ones. As we are spread far and wide geographically, we organise regular social events and activities (go karting, golf, sailing) to share our experiences and generally get together and have some fun.

If this appeals to you, get in touch. I will look forward to welcoming you at our next event!


Written by Oliver North, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd

Project Management 101: The best tool for prioritising your projects effectively

July 8, 2016 1:53 pm
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In the second of this series of blogs, once we’ve identified and established what the projects are, how do we decide which one to do first?

My first blog on the topic of Project Management looked at idea generation and what exactly makes a project a project. I am confident that if you read that blog you will have come up with a long wish list of projects you would like to progress.

Now you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, it’s time to decide where to start… It is essential to select the right projects to enable achievement of the organisation’s targets and goals.  By focusing resources on prioritised projects rather than trying to stretch across many different ones will ensure completion in a more effective and timely manner.

At Coriolis we have developed a Prioritisation tool which focuses on the Impact and Ease of Effort within each project(shown above)

Some examples of criteria used to define the priority are shown here.  Within your organisation you need to decide whether these are effective criteria or if anything else needs to be added to ensure alignment with the business’s targets and goals.

With your criteria selected, the weighting of each element needs to be defined to enable the prioritisation activity to commence.  For example, safety is always the highest priority so this will have a greater weighting than, for instance, Customer Impact. Similarly, in a cash-stripped business Capital Expenditure will be unlikely to happen in which case the weighting will be designed to reflect this.

By asking specific and focused questions we can assign values from 1 to 10 to each element of the Impact and Ease of Effort categories. From this, each project examined generates an individual score.  We are then able to complete the Project prioritisation activity, listing the projects in order by their scores.

A common sense review should then be completed to ensure that the weightings and prioritisation present a logical order.  Whilst the tool eliminates personal opinions, it is still reliant on the weightings and values applied by those same individuals.

The reality exists that this process is never-ending as there are always additional projects which will be added, and others which are being completed.  With each addition of a project, the same methodology needs to apply in order to understand where it falls in terms of priorities. Equally, if there is a change in the organisation’s targets which leads to a change in the goals of the project then a complete review would be required.

Now we know the order in which we wish to commence the projects identified we need to decide how to resource and plan them which will be covered in the next blog in this series.


Written by Sally Wood, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd


Effective Marketing: Getting started with Social Media Marketing

July 8, 2016 12:48 pm
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Social media is rapidly expanding, with over 72% of web users also using at least one social media platform. It is forecast that there will be over 2.2 billion users of social media by the end of this year. As a business of any size, it is imperative to effectively market your brand through social media outlets and tap into this vast and ever expanding network of potential and existing customers.

Businesses have witnessed significant benefits through effective social media marketing, from growing brand recognition and loyalty to improving customer insights, increasing sales and attracting new talent. However, before rushing off to create a Facebook or Twitter page for your business, it is important to take a step back and develop a well thought out social media strategy.

Each and every move on social media should be tactical and form a part of your wider social media plan, which needs to tie into your businesses’ overall marketing strategy. A small start-up company may be primarily looking to engage and grow their client base through a two-way communication model, whereas an established company may want to increase sales through targeted marketing. Keep the end goal in mind and set SMART objectives to attain it.

Once your objective has been set, it is important to understand which platforms will reach your target audience. Demographics such as age and location are different factors which will inform your choices for which social media platform suits your business best. BMW leveraged the platform WeChat (a popular text and voice messaging app in China) to advertise to potential car buyers – a move that reached 46 million WeChat users and added 200,000 followers to BMW’s WeChat account in just 17 hours!

Develop a content plan to outline what you intend to post and promote via social media. Embracing visual content is key. In recent years, photos have proven to be an effective and inexpensive marketing tool. Photos shouldn’t need an explanation – the less reading, the better. Consider investing in video footage for marketing campaigns. Videos erupted on social media during 2015, with Facebook and Snapchat reporting 8 and 6 billion daily video views respectively. It is predicted that video views will continue to increase in 2016. TEDx has successfully created short videos from their informative lectures in a shareable format which is promoted on their Twitter page, attracting over 400,000 followers in the process.

Schedule all your posts with the strategy in mind, ensuring content is not only seen by your audience but that the audience has a chance to read and share the material. Utilising trending hashtags such as #TBT will further increase your reach. Some of the best times to post are outside of working hours when people are taking their lunch break or on their daily commute. Twitter have found that tweets in the late afternoon and early evening generated more traffic and click through rates than those published at any other time of day.

The most important reason to market your business through social media is that your customers are already spending so much time there. The global average is reported as 1hr 40mins every day. On average Australians spend almost a quarter of every waking hour on their social media networks. Developing a social media marketing strategy and releasing planned content on the right platform at the right time is paramount in enabling your business to effectively engage with customers. The time to start your social advertising journey is now.


Written by Karen Starr, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd


Following suit: are company uniforms a good idea?

July 8, 2016 11:05 am
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PwC recently made headlines in the UK for all the wrong reasons after an agency worker was sent home for refusing to wear high heels. The news story went viral, a petition was swiftly set up, and uproar ensued as the temporary agency was branded ‘sexist’ for their 2-4 inch heel stipulation for female employees. The agency reacted swiftly and scrapped the policy, and some rather funny videos of chaps trying to walk in heels appeared on social media.

Back in 2010 UBS also made headlines with their 44-page manual instructing their bankers how to dress (and even smell…) – if you speak French you can probably find a copy of the manual online for some light entertainment (it was ridiculed extensively and subsequently scrapped the following year), here are some of the best bits.

Dress codes and uniforms should not be confused; dress codes typically provide guidance in defining what you should wear, whereas uniforms are what you must wear. While uniforms are rare in the corporate Western world, in most Asian businesses a uniform is the expectation.

For most of us, school uniforms were the norm during our childhood. In everyday life we expect those working in public-facing roles to wear a particular outfit as a form of identity. Chefs in aprons and chequered trousers, doctors in scrubs and the army in camouflage all show professionalism. Similarly in the retail sector, imagine trying to find a product in the supermarket and not being able to identify a member of staff by their uniform in aisles crammed with shoppers?

Uniforms have their pro’s and con’s – from an employee’s perspective, a uniform can generate a sense of belonging and pride, and probably saves a lot of time and money. A uniform also removes any ambiguity or differences in interpretation of a dress code; how many times have you turned up to a meeting feeling too smartly dressed or too casual?

From an employer’s perspective a uniform promotes safety in the workplace and shows a duty of care to employees, as well as an investment. By defining the clothing your team members must wear you can actively manage your health & safety requirements. From a security perspective it’s easy to spot an intruder too. Uniforms can be designed with company image and branding in mind, and provide companies with free advertising (providing employees are acting in line with company values)

In the past, suits and ties were the preferred dress code of consultants, but we have moved to a adopt a more casual approach to dress code in recent years. This is predominantly so that we can transition more effectively between working with leadership and those on the shop floor, the latter being whom we tend to spend the most time with on a day-to-day basis.

As somebody who hates clothes shopping I personally think that company uniforms are a good idea, and I look forward to receiving my Coriolis-branded polo shirts in due course…


Written by Sally Wood, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd