By Maggie Holleran, May 24 2013 04:07PM
Enjoying an end of week sparkling water in a cosy pub with a few friends,
One, an ex professional footballer and TV anchorman, was talking about a few coaching sessions he’d had with a leadership coach and how the process was eye opening.
We got to share ideas about the state of leadership in the world, our own leadership skills and what might be the way forward.
One of the key themes being, how our top leaders are often closed to feedback- “big egos”, my friend said
All of our past illusions about leaders needing big egos to get results by cutting corners are now shattered and in the full spotlight are the severe consequences of leadership ego and unhelpful behaviours running riot.
This is a very interesting time. A transition time “old norms are broken, the new way has not yet been invented” Tony Blair 2012
I am working with many leaders who do believe they can role model transparency and openness to feedback breaking the power control dynamic. They have been inviting feedback about both their business skills and their behavioural style and are passionate about changing cultures from one-dimensional short-term actions to holistic thinking and integrity in decision making.
These visionary leaders do recognise and own that their influence on the cultural norms is to be handled with great respect. In-group dynamics, just by holding the role and title of leader we are given more of the power to magnetize the group norms. Eg As a leader my unhelpful behaviours, blind spots, prejudices and projections will be magnified and have more effect than anyone else’s in the group and if I am not aware, managing & minimizing them I will create a culture based on my negativity, undermining performance and profit.
Add this to everyone else’s unhelpful behaviours and we have what we have now-
wasted time, wasted energy and wasted resources, ruled by our baser instincts, facing the wrong way and missing the real roots of the issues
So, what are the real leadership tasks and the real skills for leaders in this transition time? and where are we heading to?. We are asking for leaders to show us the way to a model of integrated success – well being and profit and collaboration. We are asking for leaders to role model this integrated balance by being healthy and successful and creating good relationships.
So the main leadership task is re- education and some of the essential skills -self knowledge, self-management, feedback and the ability to build functional relationships.
As every successful business person, athlete or performer will tell you, success always starts with a clear vision of where you want to get to.
So bringing this new culture to reality starts with a clear vision of the elements that need to be in embedded in the culture to support this flourishing integrated success.
Many Leaders today are already re-writing the leadership curriculum and adding in this mastery of self knowledge as the top skill from which all others follow
How do we begin this journey of embedding these skills?
Well the good news is we have already begun.
My friend and I wouldn’t have had this conversation even 5 years ago
In every new era there are 3 groups - the pioneers, the mass and the resistant
Slowly but surely over the last 10 years the pioneers have sown the seeds of integrated success criteria into many areas in our culture
Once the pioneers have done enough of their work, the mass group then start to pick up the ideas until there is a tipping point into the new way -we are close to this tipping point
But still with one foot in the future and one foot in the past we are clashing with the final resistance in ourselves and others. A very challenging part of the transition to hold.!
Everyone is asking how can I be healthier, more fulfilled?
How can I stop my negative behaviours, be less stressed, handle others difficult behaviours?
In this information era we have access to knowledge everywhere- self help courses books, responsible servant leadership trainings, coaching, away days and much more.
How do we, what ever the size of our leadership role, influence other leaders and our teams to take more committed steps to being the experts on self knowledge?
How do we stay focussed and keep taking small meaningful steps to the tipping point
What’s my part, my contribution to the system during this transition time?
“Hope springs from participation”
Once our full self-knowledge is embedded the 2nd skill we then need is the ability to manage and maintain our full potential in all key situations
The biggest part of self-management is recognising where we habitually over and under used certain muscles that create instability.
Our monthly leadership fitness sessions build these layers of self-knowledge and self-management step by step just like any good fitness programme. We use the success lens that looks at the 8 strands of leading cultural change to an integrated successful organisation.
“Fascinating” said a leader in Germany last week after her first experience of the 8 lens process, “how quickly the chaos becomes clarity, how quickly I see my part and see a way forward”
During 2012 the Olympic athletes were asked regularly, how do you get to be a winner?
Most said the key to that single moment of winning was a result of being in an on-going success process- day by day, week by week, month by month.
Here’s one exercise from the 8 lens success process
A self reflective check in and experiment
Go find your TA drivers profile.
Look at you top two drivers from the 5 (Hurry up, be perfect, be strong, try hard, please people)
eg hurry up and be perfect
Exercise 1: if you are allowing your habitual drivers to be in the driving seat all of the time what’s the consequences?
Exercise 2: if you were to put you wiser self in the driving seat and choose consciously to activate hurry up and be perfect for an hour aligned to a specific task, what might happen?
Exercise 3: if you are overusing these hurry up and be perfect muscles what are the opposite underused muscles? E.g. pause and be more pragmatic
Experiment with inhabiting the pausing and pragmatic place for half a day
Whenever you conduct an experiment follow it with a successful audit
A successful audit always recognises that we did the best we could on that day.
Then asks, what did we do well in the experiment
What did we do averagely?
What do we need to develop?
What mindset do we need to clear out/ let go of?
What skills do we practice more?
What shape will my next experiment look like?
I leave you with a final question
What action do you feel ready to commit to that will contribute to integrating wholeness & balance for you, your team and your organisation
What would be an easy action to take?
What would be a fun action to take?
What would be a brave action to take?