Lynne Peyton: Reforming Leadership with Innovative Ideas

The 05 Most Admired Leaders in Management Consultancy, 2021

In an exclusive interview Lynne Peyton, Change Management Consultant and Executive Coach of Lynne Peyton Consulting, shares some inspiring insights about her success journey. A master at solving organisational challenges, developing strong leadership, and supporting teams to achieve outstanding results, Lynne believes in helping others and making a difference.

Every leader has a unique definition of success. Tell us about your thoughts about success and why do you feel that?

I absolutely agree with the late, great, Jim Rohn, that ‘success is not about what you achieve, It is about who you become’. For me success is a feeling.  Success is about ‘being’ more than about ‘doing’.  Success is about being grateful for all the opportunities to make a difference.  It is about seeing what is needed and taking action to move people in that direction. As Prince Philip said, ‘if you make it about yourself, you will never be happy’. The focus has to be on how we can serve and how to add value to others, especially those who are more vulnerable.

You have come a long way in your professional journey as an organizational consultant and personal coach to senior managers. Tell us what inspired you to pursue a career in consulting?

They say that all progress starts with dissatisfied people.  After attending a Tony Robbins “Unleash the Power Within” event in Geneva in 1999, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo and my role as a Senior Manager.  I wanted to do something different to improve services for children and families and initially secured a number of consulting projects at Government level, looking at issues affecting children that were of national concern in Ireland.  Realising that my training in social work was not in itself enough,  I started an educational journey to learn more about both personal and organisational success and particularly the need for strong leadership in organisations.

Challenges make you stronger. What is your take on this? What were the roadblocks that taught you valuable lessons in your professional journey?

Like anyone else, I have encountered many challenges but none of them ever felt insurmountable.  I attribute this to my father whose philosophy on life was always “the day he was beaten was the day he didn’t show up”.  He taught me that there was always a way, you just need to look at things from a range of perspectives and if you cannot find the whole solution immediately, at least make a start on trying to resolve the issues.  At the end of the 1980s I was responsible for delivering a range of services for children and families in an area of Belfast which was at the heart of the “Troubles”.  Ensuring staff’s physical well-being was a daily challenge while still trying to provide high quality services to children and families within a politically divided area, where there was huge unrest and sporadic violence on an almost daily basis.  Within this context it was important to keep staff focused on the purpose of our services and the children who were depending on us. When I encountered challenges afterwards, they always seemed relatively minor in comparison. The biggest lessons I would share with others is to not take anything personally and not to be afraid to ask for help.

Tell us about your CORE multi-level, leadership program that supports organisations in coping with constant change management by improving leaders’ Communication, Optimisation, Relationships and Evaluation Skills.

Many years ago when driving past the Admiral Farragut Academy in St Petersburg, Florida, I was struck by their banner which said “success is never accidental”.  That theme forms the basis of my Core Leadership Development Programme. As leaders we have many, many strategies for success, both conscious and unconscious and we also have strategies for sabotaging ourselves.  The Core Leadership Programme is about helping you get clear on proven strategies for success and then adapting them to suit your particular circumstance.

Success is the sum of all of the choices we make and above all else success requires awareness, decisions, commitment and it requires action.

The aim of my Core Leadership Programme is to help leaders at all levels to be more successful by developing core skills in four key areas.

  • Communication – how can you be more effective in your communication as a leader?

Communication is more than just words – we communicate with our energy, our facial expressions and body language. By listening to understand someone else’s model of the world, we greatly increase our chance of influencing them.

  • Optimisation – it is about optimising all of the resources at your disposal, not just the human resources, the budget, the buildings.  It’s about optimising your energy, your time and your mindset as a leader.
  • Relationships so many things need to be done in collaboration and partnership with others.  We need to learn how to relate to people, how to build a successful team, how to broker partnerships and relationships with colleagues in our own organisation and in other agencies
  • Evaluation – whatever it is we decide to do, we need to assess the  impact  it makes?  How do we get better at understanding the outcomes of our various strategies. Success is simply doing more of what works and less of what does not, so constant evaluation is critical.

Tell us in brief about Lynne Peyton Consulting.

Lynne Peyton Consulting has a simple purpose – to help organisations working with children and families to get better outcomes through promoting the leadership and change management skills of leaders at all levels in the organisation.

How does your Team Building and Leadership Development program work?  How do you create a strong infrastructure in which safe and effective services can be developed, delivered, audited and strengthened?

Creating a strong infrastructure within any organisation is always a work in progress and is reliant on the vision and purpose of the most senior manager and his or her top team.  They create the culture in which safe and effective services can be developed.

You are also a specialist in risk assessment and in recommending remedial action in complex situations through audits, inspections, case management reviews, and the investigation of complaints.  Brief us more about that and how do your audits help your clients?

Essentially, that is where it all started.  In the early years of my consultancy, I was often brought in after something had gone wrong to get a better understanding of the issues and make recommendations about improving services.  Actually,  undertaking audits and chairing case management review were where the consultancy started and over time I realised that the recommendations were often similar and these identified the need for changes in leadership.  While there may have been challenges with the multi-agency  management of individual cases, there needed to be attention to the context within which services were delivered . Also, the recommendations of audits have to be implemented and that is down to the leadership and change management approaches.  When changes are implemented you need to re-audit and check, not just that the actions have been followed through but have the actions resulted in better outcomes for clients.  Under-resourcing and under staffing is definitely an issue and so too is ensuring that teams at all levels optimise their resources at their disposal.  Often this is about having the right people in the right positions.  In the words of Jim Collins, author of “From Good to Great”, it is not just important to have the right people on the bus, it is essential we have the right people in the right seats on the bus.  Bureaucratic, civil service type approaches to appointments can often result in the wrong people in the wrong seats.

You are a change management specialist.  Tell us about this role.

Change is an absolute constant and all change needs to be managed, from the appointment of a new Team Leader who needs to establish him or herself by in the first instance being clear what they stand for, what are their non-negotiables as well as areas they are willing to negotiate. How do they engage with their team? How do they involve the team in setting the standards and values for their work?  Bigger changes such as restructuring the manner in which services are to be delivered or the introduction of new policies must be carefully managed if they are going to be successful.  It is essential that Senior Managers understand and implement the six essential change management steps:-

1 Define what changes are needed and why.  Align the change to organisational vision and goals.

2 Consider the impact of the changes.  Who is going to be most affected and how are they going to be affected?

3 Communicate the change Plan – Process – Timescale.

The challenge with change management is that while the change tends to be communicated at the outset, the ball gets dropped due to failure to communicate the progress in managing change over and over and over again.  People need to understand the successes, the progress, where they are at in the plan and what’s still to come.

1 Identify the training needs to implement the change effectively

2 Put in place a support structure to mentor and coach people throughout the change process

3 Evaluate the change management plan.  What is working? What is the learning?  and above all celebrate progress in an inclusive way, ensuring everyone is aware of how well things are working

Brief us about your CEO Coaching & Mentoring program.  How do you help CEOs with different issues such as management problems, time management, procrastination, and so on?

It is really tough being a CEO of a Not for Profit Agency and/or a very Senior Manager in a public sector service.  For most of them, the challenge is to get out of the trenches and maintain a Heli-view, seeing current challenges in the context of the whole organisation and being more involved in big picture, strategy decisions rather than day-to-day operational tasks which should be delegated to subordinates.  Einstein said that a problem cannot be solved at the same level it was created.  CEOs and Senior Managers need to bring higher level thinking to problem solving by providing a sounding board and by asking relevant questions.  I support Senior Managers to identify solutions to a wide range of problems from staffing issues to their personal time management. Without the emotional attachment to the issues or personnel I can help provide an independent view of the various issues and above all, help them to build trust in the organisation, empower their staff and stay focused on strengthening governance and in particular outcomes.

What are your plans for the future of Lynne Peyton Consulting?  What is your message to aspiring businesswomen and leaders?

Like everyone else I have had to adapt to the Covid restrictions which has meant more remote working and online workshops instead of face to face events. This has led to an even greater reliance on one-to-one coaching for managers at all levels.  This has been well received and I will definitely continue with the model of one-to-one work as well as group mentoring sessions with staff at all levels.  However, I cannot wait to get back to running events as nothing compares with the energy of being in a room full of committed, motivated leaders who want to take themselves and their teams to the next level. 

My message to aspiring businesswomen is to be clear on your purpose, enjoy what you do, recognise the need to work with and through people and fix problems when they are small.

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