How can you balance advocacy and your own personal development in the workplace?
In the latest episode of the Happier at Work podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with seasoned team leader Dan Daly, who shared invaluable wisdom and practical tips on how to create a positive and empowering workplace environment.
In this episode, Dan emphasises the importance of ensuring that tasks are completed before diving into efforts to improve culture and employee experience. By prioritising the delivery of work, leaders create the space necessary for improvement initiatives.
First-line leaders have a crucial role in advocating for their team’s needs and professional development. By recognising and highlighting team achievements, as well as advocating for their needs, leaders can create a supportive and inclusive work environment.
Dan discusses the impact of organisations not hiring enough people, which can lead to increased workload and decreased morale. Proper prioritisation and resource allocation are important strategies in managing workload effectively.
Taking personal responsibility for learning and development is crucial for career growth. Dan encourages individuals to find multiple ways to learn and to advocate for more time within organisations to focus on personal development.
Dan acknowledges the challenges that first-time managers face, including a lack of upfront training and the broken rung on the career ladder for women. He encourages first-time managers to believe in themselves, take ownership of their learning, and seek out opportunities for growth.
The main points throughout this podcast include:
- Practical tips on how to create a positive and empowering workplace environment.
- By prioritising the delivery of work, leaders create the space necessary for improvement in initiatives.
- First-line leaders have a crucial role in advocating for their team’s needs and professional development.
- The impact of organisations not hiring enough people
- Ways to learn and advocate for more time within organisations to focus on personal development.
Connect with Dan
Do you have any feedback or thoughts on this discussion? If so, please connect with Aoife via the links below and let her know. Aoife would love to hear from you!
Connect with Happier at Work host Aoife O’Brien:
Aoife O’Brien [00:00:02]:
Dan, you’re so welcome to the Happier at Work podcast. I know that you are a longtime listener. I feel like saying longtime listener, first time caller, but you’re so welcome. I’m I’m so thrilled to have this conversation with you today. I don’t recall exactly how we first connected, but I know that we connected on LinkedIn. And I suppose you captured my attention because you’re always commenting and supporting on the post I put out there, especially in relation to the podcast. And I know subsequently then we were connecting via email, which I always love to get emails from people who listen to the podcast. So I really, really appreciated that support and letting me know, you know, feedback and suggestions and all sorts of stuff.
Aoife O’Brien [00:00:43]:
So really, really appreciate it. And for that reason, I’m so thrilled to have you on the podcast today. Do you want to introduce yourself and let people know a little bit about your background, what you do, and how you got to where you are.
Dan Daly [00:00:55]:
Yeah. Thanks, Zifram. Thanks for having me on. It’s a real pleasure to be here. So I’m currently Well, we’re dialing in from New Zealand first and foremost, so outside of the world. Yeah. Night time
Aoife O’Brien [00:01:08]:
for me, morning time for you.
Dan Daly [00:01:10]:
Exactly. Exactly. And summer for us and not such warm weather for you. But anyway
Aoife O’Brien [00:01:15]:
Well, warm weather where I am, but it’s not summer anymore.
Dan Daly [00:01:22]:
Cool. So just to introduce myself. So I’m a, I’m at a team leader level. So leading frontline teams, I’ve been in That capacity for around about 20 years now, I have dabbled in various industry sectors, moved from, different industries. My my focus and my attention has always been on people leadership. And I managed to carve Carbon niche out for myself back 20 years ago when having that as a as a sole discipline was not necessarily what businesses were looking for. It certainly is growing now. Back when I started, it was, yes, you could be a people leader, but you also have to have skills in x, y, zed if you want to work here, and so to contribute to the organization’s goals.
Dan Daly [00:02:09]:
So I’ve stayed fast to really just focusing on people leadership. And I’ve seen that shift change. Unfortunate that the, the, the places that I’ve worked in, in recent years Have, have brought me on board because I do focus on the people leadership side. I’ve worked in public sector, private sector. And for the last 15 years, I’ve I’ve focused on local government roles. So working for outcomes for the communities, in which which I live in which I work. So currently working for a regional council In public transport space, leading a team of subject matter experts and contributing to community and public transport across the The Canterbury region based here in Christchurch. So that’s that’s a very brief intro to to my background.
Aoife O’Brien [00:03:03]:
Yeah. But I love that. And it’s really interesting. And then and I’d love to explore in a little bit of more detail if we can this idea of exclusive people leadership. Because What I’m seeing more and more as the challenges that a lot of managers have is that they’re trying to do the day job and manage people at the same time, which is really Hard. And in fact, I I was speaking with the team. It was last year actually already, I think. Pretty sure it was last year.
Aoife O’Brien [00:03:32]:
And the real struggle there was knowing how much time should I be spending on my day job versus managing people. And it’s like saying how long is a piece of string. Like, there really is no correct answer. You could have really intense projects personally that you’re trying to work on, but then also some real challenges with the team that you need to on the admin that goes with that as well. So what I would love, first of all, to get your perspective on of people manager roles. And are you seeing that growing in number? Because I think it’s really important to have those skills, and it’s really important to have Those roles in organizations.
Dan Daly [00:04:10]:
Yeah. A good good question. That’s, you know, a perfect scene set. I mean, that is exactly what my experience is. How much time should we be dedicating to people management leading people versus what the organization wants? That there is no magic number. You’re absolutely right. And I think I think organizations are getting wise to that. And it is again, coming back to my role.
Dan Daly [00:04:37]:
I came into this role that I’m currently in and I sold myself. This is who I am. I’m exclusively a a people leader. Yes. I can add value to the business in other ways. But that was actually the hook which got me into where I’m working right now. That’s what they were looking for and they were explicit about We recognize this is a skill that we need and the businesses need and we’re leaning in that direction. So I do see I do see the trend going upwards in that regard and I see it in job ads that come out.
Dan Daly [00:05:09]:
It’s it’s talking more and more about, Yeah. There’s some value there, and we want to capture that.
Aoife O’Brien [00:05:14]:
Yeah. Yeah. Because I think I think someone who manages a team has a unique Set of skills. I I’m sounding a little bit like, Lee Neeson now. A special set of skills that, you know, that you can use. But really, I do I I mean that Genuinely that, you know, being able to bring out the best in people and being able to develop people and being able to create an environment where Subject math matter experts, as you mentioned, that you manage, can really, really thrive. And it’s really Great to see if there’s an increase in in numbers in that area, but also what I’m seeing as well is an increase in numbers in subject matter expert. So, like, the manager track is not the only way to progress in an organization that you can progress in multiple different ways.
Aoife O’Brien [00:06:04]:
But if people progress in multiple ways, you still need to have people to manage those people and to to create that environment where they can can actually really thrive.
Dan Daly [00:06:15]:
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And it’s a conversation that I’m having more and more. And I think I mean, those 1 on ones, those coaching conversations I have, There are constant always having those. And, when we talk about career development, people in my experience, They automatically go to an assumption that you’re thinking about, okay, how do I get to the next rung up on the hierarchical ladder, so to speak? But it is much more than that. You can diversify and career growth and progression isn’t just vertical. It’s, it’s it’s across the organization.
Dan Daly [00:06:52]:
It can be around, really what’s, What do you want to get out of your role? And going back to your previous guest episode with with Zach, what is the significance that you want to bring to your role. And what’s what do you want to get out of? What’s gonna make this, The place that you want to be where you can go home and say, yes, I made a difference. And if that is, you know, you going up the hierarchy in the organization, then that’s great. But if that is sharing your skills with your colleagues, if that is getting involved in other projects, if it is being seconded to go and support another part of the business, then that is equally rewarding as well. It’s individual for everybody.
Aoife O’Brien [00:07:40]:
Yeah. And I I know certainly in, in my last corporate role, there was a huge Push on those lateral moves and understanding more about the business. And if you think about it from the perspective that you want to rise through the ranks of the organization, You need to know the inner workings of the different departments anyway. You can’t just come from a a comer like, my Background is has always been in commercial roles, always in commercial teams. You can’t just exclusively have experience within the commercial team. You have to understand the operations. You have to understands the different departments and how they actually operate before you can make those progressions. Another thing that I noticed, and this again is large global teams, but there was a huge emphasis on going to other countries, especially kind of, Asian countries and learning there and being immersed in a different culture, learning a new culture, progressing through the ranks there, having that experience and then bringing that experience back to Europe or the US or where wherever it may be.
Aoife O’Brien [00:08:48]:
But it’s really interesting because I think a lot of people do get hung up on this idea that in order to progress my career, I have to move up the ladder. But for me, it’s it’s it it boils down to really understanding what your strengths are, what you bring to the table, the impact that you want to have to the work that you do and kind of doubling down on that and really going all in. Like, really understanding what your strengths are, what lights you up, How can you have an impact on those people around you, those people who are your colleagues, your friends, your community, the clients that you deal with, the the world at large, however you want to define that. But really thinking about, well, what is that impact? And I think sometimes we get lost in that. In the day to day of the job that we’re doing, it Kind of we lose that sense of what you know, putting your head up and thinking, what is it that I’m trying to achieve here? What is it that I want to to get done? So thank you so much for bringing up that, really valid point of it’s not just about progressing. It’s about thinking, Like, where where are the lateral moves I could make I could make here? How can I apply the skills I already have but in a different setting, for example?
Dan Daly [00:10:00]:
Yeah. And I think and I think I would add to that as well, Eva, that, you know, I can remember a really strong Feeling early in my career where it was my sense was the only way to grow your career is to go up the organization chat. Whereas I’m I know now firmly that’s not the case. And so it’s actually, I would say to people who are thinking about what direction do they want to go that there is that there are far more options there than just going up the organization challenge to explore that.
Aoife O’Brien [00:10:35]:
I think I’d love to kinda come back to this idea of career development as well and having those conversations. Because what I see, is people oftentimes and I’ve been guilty of this myself as well, that you’re expecting their manager, or the organization, or senior leader to recognize the contribution that you’re making and almost give you an opportunity that you haven’t told anyone about. And there’s this kind of unrealistic expectation that an opportunity is just gonna land in our lap. Do you wanna kinda talk to me about how you handle those career type of conversations with your team.
Dan Daly [00:11:12]:
Yeah. Absolutely. So I think first and foremost, the the thing that works the most is Having those 1 on ones and doing that consistently so that when you have when you have to have a conversation like that, that is potentially challenging, that It is not a performance review time. It is not in a standalone meeting. The conversations are happening Regularly. So you have trust build up. You understand how each other think. So that kind of conversation can happen more organically and in the moment.
Dan Daly [00:11:45]:
So that’s that’s that’s my first thought. And also again, everybody is Individually different, have different strengths, weaknesses, motivations, values. And again, in those 1 on ones For me, it’s all about understanding the person as a whole. And I guess what I’ve been able to finesse through the The coach conversation I have is that here’s a package or an expectation from the organization. This is how you have your coaching conversations. But as as a as a leader, as a coach, you can really you’re inside a box, but What colors you color inside the box with is kind of up to you. I love that. Yeah.
Dan Daly [00:12:30]:
You know, again, not going completely off Paced with, you know, multicolors, 2 different colors. So you can I would say to really leaders at my level, There is an awful lot you can do within those coaching conversations even though, it may seem and feel like you don’t have a lot of options?
Aoife O’Brien [00:12:49]:
Dan Daly [00:12:50]:
And and what I mean by that is you are the person who can find space and opportunity, Again, within context within your team or an individual who wants to develop in a certain way, you know, you can, you can control that. You have influence over that and you have probably more influence over that What you think, particularly if you’re a newer first level leader, into a leadership role for a first time unit, you know, I would say Find out find out the limit of your influence, build up your networks within the organization, Your peers at team leader or or or leadership level build up relationships, and you can have those conversations, and you can create Bespoke opportunities for people to go across into another team to to work for a period of time. You can you can make that happen. So Even though it can feel quite restrictive and constrictive, the confines that you have to work in, when You think about it in a different way and you do play around with it. You have got more influence than what you think. And then that then translates to, okay, Team member. It might not feel like you can go very far, but what we’ve been able to do, what I’ve been able to do is create this Opportunity and this is something I’ve done just for you and that’s really quite powerful. So that can then that can then help with that person to be more engaged and to Okay, right, maybe there’s more opportunity here than what I thought.
Dan Daly [00:14:24]:
And you’re certainly going to be able to expose them to more skills than What I would have had you stayed within the box and not chosen to color it in a different way.
Aoife O’Brien [00:14:35]:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s there’s a few things I’d love to pick up well, there’s loads. I mean, typical me style. There’s so many things I’d love to unpack there. And I suppose my first question is, in relation to the people that you manage. Like, do you find that they are proactively taking responsibility for their career and coming to you with opportunities as opposed to kind of waiting for you to present opportunities to them.
Dan Daly [00:15:01]:
My my So my my headline banner answer to that is that, everybody within my team absolutely open to those opportunities and they they they want to be better versions of themselves. They want to develop their skills. There is nobody who’s disinterested in that. The challenge for me and the challenge for the people in my team comes back. So I think what you headlined at the top of this podcast, which is is that where do we get the time to do that? How do we carve that time out with, the the organization is wanting, output outcomes, deliverables, pieces of work to be completed. The world is a more complex, busy place post pandemic and demands on businesses in general. So not just My organization, far more demanding and and that the net effect of that is we We push our teams to deliver more and to get higher outcomes. And that comes at a cost.
Dan Daly [00:16:09]:
So it’s really, yes, People are wanting to develop themselves, but there is always a risk that you’re gonna lose sight of that and the team members will lose sight of that because They have so much work to do.
Aoife O’Brien [00:16:22]:
Yeah. Yeah. As in, you know, they’re caught up in the day to day, and they don’t necessarily have that headspace. They don’t have that time. And I’ve certainly been in that position multiple times in my career where you’re so busy doing that It’s not even that you’re not thinking about developing. It’s that you literally don’t even have the time in your week to to even focus on it, to allocate that time. Yeah. So I know it is it’s a real struggle for people.
Aoife O’Brien [00:16:51]:
I’d love to come back to this idea of Skills as well that you mentioned. And the reason I ask is because I left my corporate role five and a half years ago, and I have discovered through running my own business. So many skills that I never knew that I had and so many compliments from people on doing the podcast. I don’t know. Is it because I come from a place of curiosity? But people really like the approach that I have in the conversations that I have. I don’t know. Is it from my coach training? I don’t know. Is it from an entire career of analyzing data, pulling out the key points, and turning it into a summary? You know, or is it something that I just am naturally born with? But I never knew I had this skill until I tried it, and people started saying to me.
Aoife O’Brien [00:17:37]:
And I’m kinda like, that’s nothing. So I think oftentimes when we have strengths, we don’t realize that there are strengths because it’s come so easily and naturally to us. Whereas for someone else, It might be a real struggle to do the to kind of replicate that. Any any thoughts around skills, understanding skills, and how to find out about what skills you have.
Dan Daly [00:18:00]:
Yeah. So I’m gonna dovetail that question with, just picking up on a on a thread from the last question.
Aoife O’Brien [00:18:06]:
Dan Daly [00:18:08]:
So the team that I work with, we work in local government. We’re all about public service. So they’re humble people. And so, you know, they, they are all about giving rather than thinking about what can I get out of this? So actually going back to making making space for people within my team to say, hey, This is an opportunity for you is, is really important because they want to think about themselves. So that’s, that’s a real insight that I’ve got to share from my observations then. And again, so getting to your your current question again, coming back to the 1 on ones. Again, my experience is that, maybe it’s a New Zealand thing, but people in general, in my experience, They don’t tend to self recognize what they have achieved nor the significance of what they’ve delivered or what the outcomes have been. And It’s your role as a leader to really, just say, hey, in a gentle way, we’re just we’re just gonna pause here Because I I want to really highlight something.
Dan Daly [00:19:17]:
And again, that’s that’s specificity. So if you can highlight something to someone to say, look, I know tooting your own horn is not your thing, but I really want to just point out the significance of what you’ve achieved here and just, holding up, holding up a mirror and asking her an open question like, would you have 12 months ago thought that you would be able to achieve this. And you know, that really makes people just go, actually, you know, I have come a long way because again, In the public service setting, we’re thinking about the here and there and the people that I coach and lead. They’re they’re certainly not thinking, how far have I come? How far have I grown? So actually just finding the right space to actually hold that mirror up is is a really powerful thing. And then, you know, that then allows you to able To look at, right, what are the skills that you used to get there? And then that can further demonstrate, right, So I’ve actually increased my ability with these skills. And then that really that’s the light bulb moment that makes People go, yeah. I’ve grown. And then that is the launchpad where we can say, hey.
Dan Daly [00:20:30]:
What’s happening today? What are you struggling with? Right. What skills do we need to get there? And then replicating whatever they use for success from 12 months ago to today, whether that’s the way they’ve learned conversations they’ve had, whatever it’s been and going, okay, let’s apply that same model. And then in 12 months time, I’m gonna ask you the same question about the challenges you’re having today and did you think you would get there? And just then being in it with them throughout the next 12 months and checking in having conversations So they know it’s top of your mind. It also keeps it top of their mind. And I think the thing I can’t stress enough is when you’re, when you’re trying to increase skills for people in your team, the onus is not on them. I believe You’re in it together. You succeed or you fail together. You really do.
Aoife O’Brien [00:21:28]:
Yeah. Yeah. No. I love that. And I kind of feel having listened to that. And anyone who’s listening today, I’m like, rewind it for 2 minutes, 3 minutes at and listen to that section again because for me it was so powerful. And I’m trying to think of a particular man like, I’ve had some good managers over the years, and I’ve had some terrible managers over the years. But I I just love that as It’s almost like a framework that you say, okay.
Aoife O’Brien [00:21:57]:
Let’s hold up the mirror. I love that kind of the idea that you’re holding up the mirror. Did you ever think that you would achieve what you have achieved here? And this old you know, the coaching tool of and what Skills were required to get there. Like, I think it’s so powerful for people to think about what skills are required in order to achieve what they’ve achieved. And It’s you know? Excuse me. It ties in with the work that I do as well in relation to imposter syndrome. And You don’t have to think about what you’ve achieved in a work context. It can be in a personal context.
Aoife O’Brien [00:22:29]:
And sometimes people really struggle to even think about anything that they’ve achieved. But ask the people around you, like, what have what have I achieved? What what would you say are my big achievements? And then you can start thinking about, okay, so what what did it take to actually achieve what I’ve achieved? Giving people that space to recognize that they’ve grown and then presenting new challenges and applying those same skills. And we’re in it together. I absolutely love all of that. It’s just so powerful as a manager to be able to to do that, to hold that space for for your people essentially.
Dan Daly [00:23:08]:
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And and also I had this very conversation with somebody yesterday in not just career development, but also in performance. Because I talked about if, the question I asked my team member yesterday was if If I need to give you, corrective feedback, how do you like to receive that? And, And again, I said to my team member, if we’re having that conversation, it feels very much, what have I not done? There may be something that you haven’t done, but for me, if I’m having that conversation with someone, There is a part that I’ve played in that. I’ve either under led or I haven’t been clear about something. Mhmm. You know, I haven’t given them the enough resources, whatever it’s whatever it
Aoife O’Brien [00:23:58]:
Dan Daly [00:23:58]:
So it’s again, you’re in it together. You know, you’re really Just that side by side kind of approach is what what I’ve always used. Well, in the start of my leadership career, I probably didn’t use it because I was using the the prescriptive model, but as as you learn what your strengths are as a coach and you go through, You have these realizations that actually, this this is a partnership. We’re we are side by side with this.
Aoife O’Brien [00:24:26]:
Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. And it it kind of reminds me of part of the conversation with Dan as well. The difference between That person is a poor performer versus we’ve created a a poor environment for them to thrive in. So I love that idea that you’re taking personal responsibility. And it is a case of, well, what was my role in this? What could I have Done differently.
Aoife O’Brien [00:24:51]:
How could I have supported my team member better as opposed to I think the standard is the blame game, isn’t That was the boss is on my back again, and the boss gets this bad rap. At the time of recording, the episode that’s coming out tomorrow morning is all about Bad bosses, essentially, and and how to kind of move on from that and the different types of bad bosses. But I think it’s it’s so important to recognize the the positive influences that bosses can have as well. I’d love to know, Dan, some of The challenges so we kinda talked about some of the strengths that you bring to that role. What are some of the challenges? I know we’ve we’ve talked about this over email as well. Either some of the challenges that you have specifically with your team or some of the challenges that you see generally with managers trying to implement the kind of stuff that I talk about on the podcast.
Dan Daly [00:25:44]:
Yeah, I think, at the top of that question for me is we recognize, I say we, Certainly in the organization that I’m currently part of conversations I have with people outside of my organization. There is definitely more of a leaning towards understanding, you know, happier at work ethos. So the the content that you bring, Yeah. Around employee engagements, safe spaces, psychological safety, leadership improvement style, that is more and more recognized. I think if organizations aren’t recognized the importance of those things, they’re certainly the So the, the, the needle is shifting on that. The, the challenge again comes back to that is well and good. However, the organization or an organization has expectations around outputs. We’re accountable.
Dan Daly [00:26:41]:
We have to provide deliverables. So let’s do that first and then we can focus on, getting really into the, into the weeds on improving cultures, career opportunities, the employee experience. And I think the best organizations, are the ones who act are deliberate about And and actually have a call out to say, right, we’re going to create space for this. Yes. This might create a bit of a bottleneck, but we’re actually going to create space for this. And then coming back to, What I think I’ve mentioned before is that as a, as a first line leader, 1st tier leader, you can actually Can take control of creating that space. Yes, you’re still going to be able to, we’re still going to have to deliver things. You can’t ever get away from that, but you’ve actually got more influence and control over creating space to make those kind of things happen.
Dan Daly [00:27:45]:
Whether it’s in a a micro environment or just advocating for look, we’re gonna take half a day. We’re gonna take a day Getting your next level up manager to to to get in alignment with that really and advocating. That’s the best thing that 1st tier leaders can do is to advocate. And then that’s, that kind of brings the circle, the whole way around, I guess, really. Yeah. So that’s a broad answer.
Aoife O’Brien [00:28:14]:
Yeah. Yeah. No, Brynn. I’ll I I love it. And I think one of the One of the big challenges I see is exactly that. And and I know that we’ve kinda touched on this before. You’re having stuff coming you’re in you’re kind of crunched in the middle because you Have stuff coming from above, and you have stuff coming from below, and you need to manage the messages. And for me, one of the big challenges is either changing priorities that are not communicated.
Aoife O’Brien [00:28:42]:
So, like, this is a priority today. You work on it, and then you find out that actually the priority It’s changed, but no one has communicated anything about the change in priority. Another big challenge that I see is just simply too much work. And, I mean, do you see that happening? And is is the challenge around people setting boundaries for themselves and knowing how to say no, knowing how to manage the work, doing work that’s just good enough, that it doesn’t have to be perfect. But knowing what good enough looks like, what are those kind of on the ground Challenges that you see when there’s too much work happening.
Dan Daly [00:29:19]:
Yeah. And I think that there is too much work. I’m not about my organization. I’m talking generally now.
Aoife O’Brien [00:29:26]:
Yeah. Yeah. So it just simply organizations haven’t hired enough people, and they’re just like, Right? We and it’s and I’ve seen that, like, almost at a deliberate level in an organization that I worked in previously where it was a very deliberate, decision not to replace someone who left the business. And the rest of the team were left to pick up the slack, and the morale just took a nose dive.
Dan Daly [00:29:52]:
Yeah. Exactly. And I think it also comes down to prioritization as well. So actually prioritizing what’s coming in and allocating resources against it correctly. And we’re doing some work on this at the moment within our public Transport team. We’ve got a a GM who is really across this and really advocating for this, and that makes a a really big difference. That creates space for me
Aoife O’Brien [00:30:18]:
Dan Daly [00:30:19]:
As a as a next couple levels down in leadership to go, okay. Alright. That creates space for me to be a bit more autonomous with the conversations I’m having saying, hey. Look. We are gonna prioritize things or we we We are prioritizing this. So there is space that we can have a conversation to to do some things differently. Yeah. If that if that wasn’t happening at the higher level, I wouldn’t feel as confident to have those conversations.
Dan Daly [00:30:48]:
But again, Coming back to, is it, is it people that need, need to carve out, carve that space out for themselves and put some boundaries in place That’s easier for some people than others and easier in some cultures than others. And again, thinking about my team, They are all about public service. We’re we’re wired up to say yes. We will do that.
Aoife O’Brien [00:31:14]:
Of course. Yeah. So say yes and figure out how to how to deliver later.
Dan Daly [00:31:19]:
Exactly. Exactly. So for for somebody in my team to say, hey, that’s great, but I just wanna focus on my professional development. I’m doing that for the next However long, that’s not something you’re gonna hear. So as a as a as a leader, you need to create the space for that to happen. And And again, it’s the advocacy and it’s, yeah, it’s about finding how you can pull those levers.
Aoife O’Brien [00:31:45]:
Yeah. Yeah. And when you talk about advocacy, See, is that basically maybe it’s a little bit more than this, but mentioning someone’s name in a room where they’re they are not. So you’re basically saying, Tim is part of my team, and actually he’s doing a brilliant job in this very specific way. We kinda touched on that idea of specificity earlier, but we didn’t elaborate on it. But I’ll I I think it’s so important when you give feedback to someone to be very specific about what it is that They bring and what what their unique capabilities are. Is advocacy something a little bit beyond that?
Dan Daly [00:32:20]:
It’s broad, Aoife, I think in in my view. So yes, it is what you mentioned. Definitely. And I think, certainly the senior leaders which I work with today, they want to recognize those things. And so it’s kind of a skill to be able to Slow them down and presents the work that the team have done in a in a humanistic, Impactful way. Okay. Either because it is by nature of their role. Okay.
Dan Daly [00:32:50]:
What are we gonna achieve? How are we gonna achieve it? And by when and on budget? So, you know, part of my role is
Aoife O’Brien [00:32:56]:
Once we’ve achieved that, let’s move on to the next thing.
Dan Daly [00:32:59]:
Exactly. Exactly. So so for me, it’s about, okay, bringing in the achievements of People to highlight that, you know, there are people at the center of that and it is always received well. So, so that’s, that’s good. Advocacy is Other than that, you know, it’s an individual, but it’s also advocating for your team. No one ever tells you that when you go for a team leader role, That’s not only a job description that I’ve seen, but you have, you know, part of your role as a good leader is to advocate for your team. So it is to say, Hey, we need to carve some space out, for X, Y and Z trading. Here is what I think we’re gonna get out of it.
Dan Daly [00:33:36]:
Here’s how it’s gonna make a difference. And you know, let’s let’s do it, let’s make it happen. So advocacy is it’s a broad, it’s a broad concept, but it’s something which is Always at the forefront of my mind, really, as something that you need to, you need to do, but you need to Need to present it in the right way. You need to pick the moments that you’re going to do that.
Aoife O’Brien [00:34:00]:
Dan Daly [00:34:01]:
How you’re gonna deliver it? So,
Aoife O’Brien [00:34:04]:
so it’s a bit more strategic and It needs to be genuine from the heart and all the rest.
Dan Daly [00:34:10]:
Yeah, strategic is the rights, is the rights phrase. You know, I can certainly think too early in my leadership career, I would have advocated in a very passionate way and you know, come on, why can’t we do this? Whereas okay, right. Let’s get some more skills around this so that my messaging is more effective. And so fortunately, I’ve been able to do that.
Aoife O’Brien [00:34:32]:
Yes. You’ve recognized it. You’ve addressed it.
Dan Daly [00:34:36]:
Yeah, Yeah. And it’s not perfect. It’s always going to be an evolution in progress, but you know, yeah, advocacy is really important at team leader level and you actually have more power in your advocacy than what you think. I know I’ve said this a couple of times already, especially if you’re a new a new leader at team leader level, for example. You actually have more parent advocacy than what you than what you think and what you’ve realized. So so play around with that would be would be my advice.
Aoife O’Brien [00:35:06]:
Yeah. I’d I’d I’d love to expand on this idea of first time managers because I know we’ve kinda gone back and forth over email on that in in previous occasions. So and you’re a huge advocate for first time managers, and supporting people who are managing people for the 1st time. Do you wanna talk to me about some of the challenges that you see? And I suppose I’m coming at it from the perspective that from what I see couple of different perspectives. From what I see, there is not that much support, so it Tends it tends to be sink or swim. We’ll promote you to be manager, and then we’ll give you the training. So the training is not necessarily done upfront. This concept of the the 1st rung is broken or the broken rung on the ladder for women, especially.
Aoife O’Brien [00:35:53]:
So women Don’t go for that 1st manager level. And that means that there’s there’s fewer in the pipeline to go for the more senior positions, which means there’s fewer senior women leaders in positions, which has all sorts of impacts on the the economy and The you’re gonna probably go on a big rant about that whole thing. But, basically, it’s yeah. What we’re looking to do is get more women into those senior positions. So would love to know in the context of that, what are the challenges that you see when it comes to first time managers?
Dan Daly [00:36:28]:
Yeah. And I think, I would say that if anybody finds themselves in the in the 1st time manager role, firstly, Believe in yourself. You’re not there by accident. Somebody has seen something in you that has made them think that you are gonna Be able to achieve this. So it might feel like a big sink or swim moment. I would say do recognize that It’s going to be a steep learning curve. There are plenty of days where I still feel like I haven’t figured this out. You know, so hang on.
Dan Daly [00:37:02]:
And, It’s it’s a case of, yes, you will get, more kind of off the shelf package type leadership training. That’s typically around, leading your team from a health and safety perspective. Yes, you might get, training around how you have, annual performance talks, for example. But in terms of how you actually learn your role and what your strengths are, it’s that old analogy of you really learn to Start to drive after you’ve passed your driving test. And, you know, it really is true for the leaders, you know, going into it for the 1st time. So I would say the temptation is to demonstrate to everybody and everything, that you do. Here’s my capability. I’m great at what I do, you know, have ambitions for that, but Be selfish.
Dan Daly [00:37:56]:
It’s not a word that I use a lot, but be selfish around your own personal learning and development. Make sure you’re Having a niche for yourself. I book in some time each week, unselfishly, for myself to to do that. Always have, always will. And recognize that your leadership learning, it’s not going to be Lydia, you are going to have peaks and troughs. There are gonna be times where there are things That you feel you have greater strength in and that’s great, but it’s going to be times that you have, we do feel like I need to develop this, a bit of developing the space and because you are a leader, you feel that isolation because you feel that responsibility. So for me, the approach that I take when I have a I feel out of my depth here, What am I gonna do is I just take a breath and I reframe it. And the word I use for myself is, okay, I’m curious about this.
Dan Daly [00:38:59]:
Let’s get curious about this situation and curious around why I feel this way. And it just kind of provides a bit of grounding and Shift your perspective so that you can think about it in a more measured analytical way and then frame up the next step. So those are kind of the, off the cuff high level initial thoughts I’ve got to to your question, Nico.
Aoife O’Brien [00:39:25]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No. I love that. And, in my own experience, I was trained to be a leader, a manager before I was even promoted. So in a in an organization where I wasn’t a manager, I learned all of the basics, and I think it was the I’m trying to remember of the the term. It was a certain type of leadership style, a leadership framework, and Wasn’t, wasn’t made a manager before I left that organization.
Aoife O’Brien [00:39:54]:
But then later in in kind of subsequent roles became a manager, but I had all of that kind of training experience, but the best experience, I think, going back to what you alluded to was the on the job stuff. It’s learning. You know, it’s not about what you learn in the classroom or what you learn before you pass your driving test. It’s what you learn when you go out on the motorway. Yep. And you have to drive really fast. And, I love this idea of taking time out to really understand what your skills and strengths are, the unique capabilities that you bring. I think sometimes first time managers can be really on the defensive.
Aoife O’Brien [00:40:29]:
Like, I’m brilliant at everything, and here’s what I’m contributing to, especially with their teams that they, you know, they feel maybe a little bit threatened, that that they’re in over their head, imposter syndrome, all those things kinda going on. Recognizing this sense of isolation and a great sense of responsibility to deliver on what you said that you would deliver on, whether that is the organization’s objectives or, delivering to your team, you know, managing the team and things. And I’m not sure that that goes away as a leader as you progress in an organization. I think you still feel that sense. And and a lot of people do feel that sense of isolation of I’m the only one who feels like this, and I have this great sense of responsibility, or I’m the only one who doesn’t know how to do x, y, zed. But if we just Got those things out there and talked about them that more people would realize. This is just part of the human condition. And not everyone is brilliant at everything, and you can’t be brilliant Everything.
Aoife O’Brien [00:41:24]:
But what are your unique skills that you bring to this situation? What are unique unique talents and strengths that you bring? I love this idea of let’s get curious about this situation. So, it’s that curiosity mindset. And, Excuse me. As you were talking about it, what it what occurred to me when you were saying that brings a more measured and a more analytical approach to what it is that we’re doing. To me, what sprung to mind is we get hijacked by our emotions. We feel threatened, and we go into reactive mode. And We’re upset or we’re on the defensive or whatever it might be. And if you get curious about what’s going on for you in your body, in your head, whatever it might be, and that helps you.
Aoife O’Brien [00:42:10]:
Again, I love the words that you use to stay measured and to stay analytical and bring that logic into it rather than being hijacked and and feeling like you’re under threat. So absolutely love that approach. From the conversation that we had today, is there anything else that you would like to to kind of share building on the the theme that we had. Is there are there any other insights that you would like to share today?
Dan Daly [00:42:36]:
Yeah. And I think, you know, just just before we do have that question, going back to what you mentioned about equality and Women progressing through the ranks.
Aoife O’Brien [00:42:47]:
Dan Daly [00:42:47]:
I mean, that is such an important thing that we really need to pay attention to, particularly as well. People of color, people from ethnic minorities, sexuality. It’s, it’s so important. It’s I know the challenges for me as a white male, middle aged, leader, You know, it’s challenging enough for me and for people who have extra challenges, stereotypes built around them. We really need to Text those people. We really protect is the wrong word. We need to empower, support and think about what part are we playing in that. And that is a part that, again, as a first level leader, you can look around your team.
Dan Daly [00:43:30]:
Who who do I need to pay attention to That would not feel comfortable in this space. So I’d say, you know, really focus on that. And again, what you do as a first level leader is really, really Powerful and important because if you have a woman, or, somebody who is of who wants to go into a leadership position or progress their career, and they are and you are their their first leader or, you are somebody who Could really help influence them. You’re in a real make or break for people who have those challenges and those stereotypes built around them. So lean into that I get curious about that too.
Aoife O’Brien [00:44:12]:
Dan Daly [00:44:13]:
But I’d say to to answer your question, again, coming back to being selfish about your your own learning and development, find multiple ways to learn, and take control of it. There is nobody who is going to be more invested in your own professional learning and development than you. Your organization will be, me, but you are the person who’s gonna drive it, and you are the person who is gonna be most invested in it. So find multiple ways of learning, whether that’s Podcasts, reading, study, mentoring, connecting with networks. There are so many ways out there. So I would say get curious about that too.
Aoife O’Brien [00:44:52]:
Yeah. Now I love that because just earlier today, I was thinking 2024. I want to bring more of the type of learning that I really enjoy, You know, things like actually studying and having to do assignments so that I can really embed the learning. So I have loads of different areas that I would love to Explore more. And so for me as an individual, that’s me taking responsibility going into 2024. And then from the things that I’m already doing, so I am an avid podcast listener. I love listening to podcasts. I love listening to audiobooks.
Aoife O’Brien [00:45:24]:
I love reading books. I read around a book a week. It’s not always the case. I try to aim for 52 in a year. But for me, it’s a it’s it’s kind of more the intentionality about that. I take notes as I read those Books, I love to share my learnings from those books as well. But going, again, going into 2024, it’s the intentionality. How do I apply what it is that I’m learning? How do I take this and share those learnings with other people or bring the bring those learnings into the work that I do with my clients.
Aoife O’Brien [00:45:54]:
So I love that idea of taking personal responsibility for your learning, carving out that unselfish time for yourself to to make that a priority because, you know, thinking about it from a leader’s perspective, No one else is going to be looking at you and saying, oh, wow. Aoife doesn’t have enough time for learning and development this week. I’m gonna make sure she has that time. No one It’s there. No one has the time to do that for you, so you need to make sure that you have that for yourself. And certainly when I’ve worked in organizations before, It has been a real challenge sometimes, and I’ve had to push back to the organization and say, you’ve given me 5 days of client work. I can’t possibly complete 5 days of client work in a 5 day week. Where’s my time for meetings? Where’s my time for admin? Where’s my time for personal development? So in that situation.
Aoife O’Brien [00:46:45]:
I really had to advocate for myself to get more of that time back, to be able to to be able to do that. Dan, anything else to add before we wrap things up on the podcast today?
Dan Daly [00:46:58]:
Thank you. I know you’ll share some, some links. So my LinkedIn, excuse me, my LinkedIn connection details. If there’s any first time leaders out there who want to connect or anybody wants to connect. I’m really happy to do that. I’d really love to do that. I’m really passionate about supporting people, particularly first time leaders. So please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to.
Dan Daly [00:47:18]:
I’d Be delighted to
Aoife O’Brien [00:47:20]:
Dan Daly [00:47:21]:
Yeah. But also, the final thought that I wanna really make sure that I say in today’s podcast is thank you for your work, Aoife. I really appreciate what you do that you share so generously. And, you know, I’ve personally learned a lot. So it’s really just to say, thank you. Keep it up.
Aoife O’Brien [00:47:40]:
Thank you. I appreciate it. I always love to hear great things because, You know, being on this side of the mic, doing certainly when I’m doing the, solo episodes, I have to dig deep. I really have to dig Deepan. And it’s really hard to talk on a one way conversation. You’re just talking into a mic. I find it so much easier to have a conversation. I love the conversations that I have.
Aoife O’Brien [00:48:04]:
I love the people I’m able to connect with as a result of having those conversations. And for me, it’s it’s something I thoroughly enjoy doing. I’ve had feedback to say that I’m you know, that it’s it’s good and it’s having an impact. And it just brings me so much joy when people tell me the impact that it’s had because it can feel like a lonely game. You’re just putting literally putting something out there on the Internet. And to get that feedback to to say that people are actually listening to the words that you’re saying, it just mean it really means the world to me. So I really, really appreciate that. Thank you, Dan.
Aoife O’Brien [00:48:40]:
The question that I ask everyone who comes on the podcast, what does being happier at work mean to you?
Dan Daly [00:48:46]:
I know you said to prepare for this question, but I deliberately haven’t prepared for this question because I think it’s a spontaneous one. And and for me, it’s really When you get when you get and I think for me, it is a sense of belonging first and foremost.
Aoife O’Brien [00:49:00]:
Dan Daly [00:49:01]:
Belonging that you are part of something That’s, you know, what you are the the impact of what you’re delivering.
Aoife O’Brien [00:49:08]:
Dan Daly [00:49:08]:
And that you are part of a team of people who Have equal input into that and, you just have a supportive environment where You’re recognized for the achievements that you deliver on.
Aoife O’Brien [00:49:23]:
Brilliant. I love that. And we mentioned about your your LinkedIn connection before. We’ll put the the details below, to connect with you on LinkedIn as well. And especially anyone who’s listening who’s a first time manager, feel free to reach out Jan. And I know, you know, we’ve been we’ve been kinda back and forth on email about that as well. So thank you so much for your time today. I absolutely loved this conversation.
Aoife O’Brien [00:49:45]:
I think there’s so many Practical things that people can take away from the conversation today. And, you know, I know you’re a huge advocate for the implementation of what people are doing, so thank you so much for sharing your tips so generously today.
Dan Daly [00:50:00]:
Pleasure. Thank you, Aoife, and, and go well.