Leadership Development

/Leadership Development

Leadership Is a Journey, Not a Destination

Conscious LeadershipEvery context requires different talents and skills, so leaders must stay deeply aware and learn to adjust themselves along the way. Whether you are a leader of today or tomorrow – and no matter your field – thinking consciously about leadership is essential, as this will affect your choices, decisions, and performance.

In my research and teaching, I spend most of my time with very senior global C-suite executives taking courses like INSEAD’s Advanced Management Programme. Yet, when we begin a deep conversation about leadership, I like to show these highly experienced executives a simple picture of pathways in the forest.

All pathways are a little bit different. You may chance upon rock, stone, sand, grass or paving. Some pathways crisscross, some split off in multiple directions. Some pathways are easy, some are hard, and some are blocked. This metaphor of forest pathways represents one of the most fundamental insights about leadership: Leadership is a journey, not a destination.

We never actually arrive at the destination of being the very best leader that we can be. We should aspire to this, but this vision is ahead of us as our journey continues. This is not a solo journey. We make pathway decisions about the people we lead, our organisations and ourselves. There may be decisions about a new career opportunity, a new country to work in, a new organisation or a new industry.

Every time we make these decisions, it sets us on a new pathway. Our leadership and career journey only has stopovers. On a pathway, we can also suddenly face disruption, like technology, or an industry-altering business model, which completely changes the way ahead.

Leadership goes well beyond VUCA

Understanding these ideas is even more important in the 21st century, a time when the leadership journey gets increasingly challenging. We are well beyond the acronym VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity). We now need to add two Ds to the acronym to reflect the broader context of the journey ahead. Everyone’s leadership journey will now be in the “D-VUCAD” world. At the front, overshadowing everything, is Disruption (whether in the form of technology, social change, industry reconfiguration or the like). We continue with VUCA. Finally, we add the reality of Diversity (including gender, cross-cultural and intergenerational).

In the D-VUCAD world, your leadership journey will include more frequent pathway changes, all of which should be navigated consciously.

A key finding in my research on leadership development, is that many leaders do not think consciously and actively enough about the new pathways they are embarking on when they make leadership or career changes. They re-use the same skills, capabilities and approaches, even when these do not match the new situation.

Take the example of John Little (not his real name), a very senior operating executive I worked with in a programme. John was an exceptional leader in crisis situations. He would frequently and successfully head crisis project teams in his firm. In such situations, he appropriately used an authoritative leadership style. He was clear, precise and energising, directing the people in his team in delivering the solution.

Context really matters in Leadership

John was eventually promoted to lead a business unit responsible for operations in another country. This was a steady-state business with growth opportunities. He was entering a very different pathway, but he didn’t consciously think about it. John told me that he felt pretty good about himself at the time. He’d just gotten a big promotion based on his track record. However, with no crisis in sight, he started to create some.

He continued to use the same directive leadership approach that had made him successful in the past. Twelve months later, he received his performance feedback. The feedback from his people was very clear: “You are a micromanaging, authoritarian dictator who never listens, consults or inspires others.” His crisis style didn’t suit his new pathway.

John accepted the feedback and adjusted his approach. He garnered a first and profound insight about leadership effectiveness: In the leadership journey, context really matters. He became more consciously aware of himself, other people, the context and the purpose of his leadership.

Leaders with “insightful awareness” understand their strengths and talents, as well as what will be their weaknesses in a given context. They understand what will drive or block them at different points of their leadership journey. They set themselves development objectives and priorities accordingly. This ensures that their “personal leadership agenda” stays dynamic. It is consciously re-assessed in light of the current and future situations. They then commit to making focused and dedicated changes, with reflection, practice, support and feedback. They confront hard questions such as: “Am I the right leader for this pathway?” and “Why am I doing what I’m doing on this pathway?”

Six As for insightfully aware leadership

Insightful leaders understand that the following six As can help them navigate their leadership journey:

• Awareness – achieving profound awareness of self, others, context and purpose as their leadership grounding point, backed with a commitment to a leadership development agenda or action plan.

• Aspiration – setting a long-term vision to be the best leader they can be, and connecting this to their short-term context and leadership development agenda, reflection, coaching and feedback.

• Authenticity – developing and challenging themselves using clear self-leadership with an understanding of their personal attributes, emotional and other intelligences, their role modelling and engagement with others.

• Acumen – building personal and team capacity for leadership judgement, agility and decision making about business and people matters, as well as leveraging team diversity and talents.

• Approaches – adopting conscious leadership approaches that match organisational, team and personal capabilities with the needs of the context or situation.

• Altitudes – “flying” at three distinct leadership altitudes: 50,000 feet (vision, strategic, external and organisational); 50 feet (execution, operational, teams and stakeholders); and 5 feet (self and very close personal relations with others). Thinking, acting and communicating seamlessly up and down, without getting trapped at any one altitude*.

In the D-VUCAD world, building on these As allows insightful leaders to harness the specific capabilities their teams, their organisations, their context and they themselves need.

These capabilities might include a combination of: Competitiveness (e.g. goal setting and technical skills); Creativity (e.g. innovation and curiosity); Collaboration (e.g. teaming and engagement); Control (e.g. planning and risk mitigation); Cognitions (utilising different kinds of thinking capacities and multiple perspectives); and effective Communication (intrapersonal, interpersonal, group and public).

Capabilities are not emphasised blindly. Insightfully aware leaders emphasise the capabilities required to achieve specific strategic or operational outcomes at the time or in the future. This is how they succeed on the pathway. For example, a leader in a critical operations role might emphasise control capabilities like implementation and risk management. Meanwhile, a leader developing innovative products or services might emphasise more creative capabilities such as brainstorming or ideation.

Our unconscious is filled with drivers and blockers. The key is to reflect on our leadership consciously, and in context. Every leader’s journey is a personal one – with opportunities to seize and problems to face. Assess your passions, your motivations, your talents and your skills. Match these to the pathways ahead and adjust where needed. Always be “insightfully aware” as you challenge yourself to be the best leader you can be in the journey stages that you are sharing with others.

Original Article by Professor Ian C. Woodward, INSEAD here

From Burnout to Superstar: Mindfulness at Work for Next Level Leaders

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl

Have you ever sat in a meeting, feeling like you might be called out as a fraud at any moment? Have you ever stared at a computer screen, procrastinating yet again, so afraid that your work won’t be perfect that you’re unable to even begin? If so, you’re in good company. The vast majority of elite leaders that I’ve coached in top-tier organizations have had these same anxieties at some point. Ironically, the more gifted the leader, the more paralyzing their fears can be. I believe that it is often the underlying fear of failure that drives many of the top performers to push themselves as hard as they do to achieve. They are rewarded early in their careers for their efforts, however, over the long run, these same tendencies can lead to burnout and even self-sabotage. Of all the cutting edge modern leadership research available, it turns out that the solution lies in the ancient wisdom of mindfulness practices.

Mindfulness is defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of ones thoughts, emotions, or experiences in a moment-to-moment basis; a state of awareness,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Research shows that these mindfulness practices can decrease stress, anxiety and depression, while increasing positive emotions and vitality, all of which leads to enhanced performance.

Almost any activity can have a meditative effect, if done with intention and presence. Some of more common mindful activities include distance swimming, running, walking, surfing, being in nature, yoga, singing, dancing, painting, playing an instrument, or simply sitting and focusing on your breath.

Meditation and mindfulness is the secret super power of next-level leaders, allowing them to harness the gifts inherent in their drive to perform, while maintain the ability to stay calm and present, and to respond vs. react in any situation.

Original Article by Lindsay Sukornyk and Huffington Post here.

Why Leadership Development Isn’t Developing Leaders

Too many business leaders today are out of touch with the employees they lead. Edelman estimates that one in three employees doesn’t trust their employer — despite the fact that billions are spent every year on leadership development. Part of the problem: Our primary method of developing leaders is antithetical to the type of leadership we need.

The vast majority of leadership programs are set curricula delivered through classroom-taught, rationally based, individual-focused methods. Participants are taken out of their day-to-day workplaces to be inspired by expert faculty, work on case studies, receive personal feedback, and take away the latest leadership thinking (and badges for their résumés). Yet study after study, including my own, tells us the qualities that leaders in today’s world need are intuitive, dynamic, collaborative, and grounded in here-and-now emotional intelligence.

The mismatch between leadership development as it exists and what leaders actually need is enormous and widening. What would work better?

Over the last 16 years I have carried out research into how leaders create change, and I’ve worked in the change leadership field for 25 years in multinational corporations. Over that time, I’ve come to appreciate four factors that lie at the heart of good, practical leadership development: making it experiential; influencing participants’ “being,” not just their “doing”; placing it into its wider, systemic context; and enrolling faculty who act less as experts and more as Sherpas.

Make it experiential. Neuroscience shows us that we learn most (and retain that learning as changed behavior) when the emotional circuits within our brain are activated. Visceral, lived experiences best activate these circuits; they prompt us to notice both things in the environment and what’s going on inside ourselves. If leadership development begins in the head, leaders will stay in their heads. We can’t simply think our way out of a habit. But in experience, and novel experience in particular, our intentional mind can be more engaged as we make conscious decisions about our behavior.

n practice, this mean setting up what I call “living laboratory” leadership development. Throw out pre-planned teaching schedules, content, lectures, and exercises that ask you to think about your world and how you need to lead it. In its place, switch to constructing self-directed experiences for participants that replicate the precise contexts they need to lead in. In such experiences the group dynamics at play in the room become the (at-times-uncomfortable) practice arena. Business simulations or unstructured large group dialogues are examples of this. I have also used experiences that challenge participants to self-organize visits outside of their companies to stakeholder groups that matter for their future, such as a carbon-dependent energy provider visiting environmental NGOs. All can act as powerful experiential catalysts for learning and change.

Influence participants’ “being,” not just their “doing.” In soon-to-be-published research, Malcolm Higgs, Roger Bellis, and I have found that leaders need to work on the quality of their inner game, or their capacity to tune into and regulate their emotional and mental states, before they can hope to develop their outer game, or what it is they need to actually do. So leadership development must start by working on the inner game. It’s very hard for leaders to have courageous conversations about unhelpful reality until they can regulate their anxiety about appearing unpopular and until they’ve built their systemic capacity to view disturbance as transformational, not dysfunctional.

In order for leadership development to influence being-level capacities, the learning experience needs to offer stillness and space for intentional, nonobstructed contemplation. It’s difficult to teach how to be! Training people with tools and models is very different from simply holding a space for leaders to be. In practice, I have found that offering participants experiences such as mindfully walking outdoors in nature, sitting silently in peer groups to hear colleagues share their life stories, and providing out-of-the-ordinary tasks such as stone carving, enables leaders to tap into their inner world as a powerful instrument for cultivating the vital skills of purpose, self-awareness, empathy, and acute attentional discipline.

Such approaches might sound a million miles from the chalk-and-talk model on which leadership development was built over the last century. But do we really believe that inner capacities can be developed in this way?

Place development into its wider, systemic context. In their HBR article, “Why Leadership Training Fails – and What to Do About It,” Michael Beer, Magnus Finnström, and Derek Schrader talk cogently about the need to attend to the organizational system as a vehicle for change before companies simply send their leaders on training programs to think and behave differently. Too often I have seen the “parallel universe” syndrome, in which leaders attend courses that promulgate certain mindsets and ways of working only to go back to the workplace and find that the office (and especially top leadership) is still stuck in old routines.

I have an additional spin on this need. And that is to use the lived leadership development experience as an opportunity to tune into and shift that very system, because they are intimately connected. Recently I directed a three-year change intervention in which the top 360 leaders of one company (including the board) attended a leadership development program in 10 waves of participants, with 36 leaders in each. Given the uncertainty in their industry, it was impossible for senior management to know what their long-term business strategy or organizational model would look like. However, the CEO did know that all he could do in such a dynamic context was build new capacities for agility and change in his organization. Each wave of participants joined the leadership development at a different stage of the company’s change journey, and at each stage we used the development experience not just for personal training but also as a vehicle to import and work with the shifting systemic dynamics of the company through time — helping them move through the “change curve.”

This meant, of course, that the program for each of the 10 waves felt very different, all set course designs had to be thrown out, and we as faculty had to continually adapt the program to the shifting context.

Enroll faculty who act less as experts and more as Sherpas. Finally, you have to attend to the required skills and characteristics of the people who lead these programs.

In the above example, we found that no single provider could provide a facility that was holistic enough. We needed a faculty group with egos not wedded to any particular leadership methodology or school of thinking and who could work skillfully with live group dynamics, creating psychological safety in the room for participants to take personal risks and push cultural boundaries. We required the educational equivalent of Sherpas, people able to carry part of the load in order to guide participants toward their personal and organizational summits.

This required not just hiring a bunch of individuals with such guiding skills but also developing ourselves continuously as a robust faculty team. We needed to be able to work with a continually changing curriculum design, and with the group projecting their discomfort with the wider change  — and how it was being experienced in the program — onto the faculty.

Make no mistake, attending to all four of these factors is a sizable challenge. Whether you are a corporate or business school leader, a head of leadership and organizational development, or a senior business leader sponsoring and attending leadership development programs, take a long, hard look at how you are currently delivering leadership development. The price of failed leadership is already too high for us not to attend to the process through which we develop it.

Original Article HBR – Deborah Rowland – here

Former SEAL on using Emotional Intelligence for Effective Leadership

Emotional Intelligence for Effective Leadership in SEAL Teams

The ability to be perceptively in tune with yourself and your emotions, as well as having sound situational awareness can be a powerful tool for leading a team. The act of knowing, understanding, and responding to emotions, overcoming stress in the moment, and being aware of how your words and actions affect others, is described as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence consists of these four attributes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

“There are no extraordinary men… just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.” – William (Bill) Halsey, Jr.

As a Navy SEAL veteran, entrepreneur, and leader of one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies in the country, I have experienced many emotions and become very aware of how those emotions can have a positive or negative effect on my ability to inspire and lead a team. Many individuals try to shut off their feelings, but as much as we distort, deny, and bury our emotions and memories, we can’t ever eliminate them. You can learn to be emotionally independent and gain the attributes that allow you to have emotional intelligence by connecting to core emotions, accepting them, and being aware of how they affect your decisions and actions. My past experiences in combat required me to develop emotional intelligence quickly. A skill that takes constant improvement but that has been beneficial in current leadership roles.

Emotional intelligence is widely known to be a key component of effective leadership. Understanding how the brain operates and how the emotional response system works should also be a factor in where we place team members within our organizations. Being able to relate behaviors and challenges of emotional intelligence on workplace performance is an immense advantage in building an exceptional team. One of the most common factors that leads to retention issues is communication deficiencies that create disengagement and doubt. A leader lacking in emotional intelligence is not able to effectively gauge the needs, wants and expectations of those they lead. Leaders who react from their emotions without filtering them can create mistrust amongst their staff and can
seriously jeopardize their working relationships. Reacting with erratic emotions can be detrimental to overall culture, attitudes and positive feelings toward the company and the mission. Good leaders must be self aware and understand how their verbal and nonverbal communication can affect the team.
SEAL training taught me many things, including how to build alliance among a team, make quick decisions in high stress situations, and communicate effectively amidst chaos. Emotions and adrenaline run high in stressful and potentially life threatening situations, but for people that haven’t had the training, it can be difficult to stay calm and make good decisions under pressure.
To help understand your emotional intelligence competencies, I would recommend determining where you stand on the below elements.

Self-Assessment:

Without reflection we cannot truly understand who we are, why we make certain decisions, what we are good at, and wherewe fall short. In order to reach your maximum
potential, you must be confident in who you are, understanding the good with the bad. Those that have a strong understanding of who they are and what they want to work on, can improve themselves on a regular basis. On the battlefield, a soldier’s heart is revealed. You see actions of heroism as well as shameful acts of cowardice. Sometimes you don’t even know what type of person you are until you have been put in a situation that pushes you to the limits. Empathy and Compassion: Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they may feel or react to a certain situation. When one has empathy, the capacity to feel compassion is open. The emotion that we feel in response to suffering that motivates a desire to help. The more we can relate to others, the better we will become at understanding what motivates or upsets them.

Emotional Restraint:

Self- control is a critical part of emotional intelligence. You need to understand how you feel before you react in a way that you may regret later. This is important in conflict resolution. It doesn’t do any good to say things that will not help to resolve the situation. A leader’s responsibility is to create order within organization and form a unified culture with positivity at the core.

Relationship Building:

You can’t make deep connections with others if you’re distracted. Many of us have families, other obligations, and a crazy to do list, but building and maintaining healthy and productive relationships is essential to one’s ability to gain higher emotional intelligence. We must recognize that everyone has a different perspective due to their background and ideals. The key is to find common ground and know that what you do and say can have a positive or negative effect on someone. This includes the tone of your voice, facial expressions, and body language.

Effective Communication:

In the SEAL teams you have to do three things flawlessly to be an effective operator and team member: Move, shoot, and communicate. Communication being of the utmost importance. mis-understandings and lack of communication are usually the basis of problems between most people. Failing to communicate effectively in a workplace leads to frustration, bitterness, and confusion among employees. Effective communication can eliminate obstacles and encourage stronger workplace relationships. When employees know their role within a company and understand how they benefit the overall direction and vision, there is a sense of value and accomplishment. Good communication results in alignment and a shared sense of purpose. One of the things that motivates me to be a better leader is having a positive effect on people. Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool and I hope to continue to understand how it can contribute to exceeding goals, improving critical
work relationships, and create a healthy, productive workplace and organizational culture.

This article was co-authored by Brent Gleeson and Dyan Crace. Original on Forbes here.

Servant Leadership is The Best Investment A Business Can Make

servant leadershipLooking to strengthen your team at work, both in productivity and camaraderie? Chances are you’ve tried the Friday morning doughnut run, Bring Your Pet to Work Day, and even employee teamwork retreats—and yet that unique bond among your employees just isn’t there. But here’s an idea that’s likely to be the best investment you could ever make: Servant leadership, in which a company and employees join together in providing hands-on service to create a better community and world.

Servant leadership is not without its costs.

In our own company, we dedicate a day of service to our community every year for a major project to help children, communities, and groups such as Native Americans, veterans, and single moms. Our project costs of having our employees out of the office is 150 to 200 thousand dollars, not to mention the planning and preparation months before this special day. But the passion this creates and the bond it instills in a company makes it one of the best ROI decisions you could possibly make. Make this your first and highest strategic endeavor, even if your company is still a one-person, “Me, Inc.”

You might be saying, “There’s no way we can do this right now . . . maybe later.” But before you conclude that Fishbowl is crazy and move on to schedule your next team excursion, think about this:

Coined by Robert K. Greenleaf, founder of the Greenleaf Institute for Servant Leadership, the concept of servant leadership defines a leader who is, very literally, a servant first. “Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world,” states the Greenleaf Institute for Servant Leadership.

I believe that everyone in my company is a leader, and leading through service is something we wholeheartedly embrace in our workplace culture. We believe that we become stronger, more effective leaders when we learn how to serve both our employees and the community around us.

Since 2009, we’ve accomplished eight of these major service projects with the Fishbowl community. As a company, we restored a beautiful mountain amphitheater; cleaned up streams and ponds in a nearby natural water park; played games and wrote down personal stories of veterans at a veteran’s home; painted interiors and exteriors of a local high school and network of Head Start preschools; and helped update and organize the libraries of two elementary schools.

With dozens of employees, family members, and friends participating each year, these service projects are a great opportunity for employees to get out from behind their desks, improve the community around them, and make some fun memories as they are given chances to serve one another. Everyone who participates agrees that the difference they make on that one day is empowering, building their desire to serve their coworkers as they return to the office the next day.

We do these projects without an expectation of monetary return, but the benefits we receive are profound. Based on our experience, here are three ways we—and by extension, your company, too—can experience the benefits of servant leadership.

Be an example of what a servant leader should be.  Before you expect your employees to fully embrace servant leadership, you must demonstrate the concept within your own day-to-day office management.

“The key to motivating employees is the focus a servant leader places on the welfare and growth of everyone in the organization. The motivating factor is that the servant leader pursue every opportunity to positively impact the behaviors of employees first—making a difference in their lives,” said David McCuistion in his article 9 Ways to Motivate People Using Servant Leadership. “This is a ‘natural calling’ of servant leadership, which is never for personal gain, but a sacrifice for the sake of others and their personal and professional growth.”

Some ways to set the example of a servant leader, according to leadership blogger Skip Prichard, include inviting differing opinions, establishing a culture of trust, developing other leaders, helping employees with life issues, building confidence through encouragement, thinking first about employees, and acting with humility.

Build a team of servant leaders.

By creating an office culture of service, you will begin building a strong team of servant leaders. Nothing screams camaraderie like uniting a diverse group of people to work toward a common goal. Encourage each employee to embrace a culture of service throughout their workday.

“Servant leaders know that by helping to guide the people who work for

[and with] them, they will help their employees learn vital skills that will both improve their performance, and improve them as people,” said Peter Economy in his book “7 Secrets of ‘Servant Leadership’ That Will Lead You to Success.”

That service can come in many forms, too. Adding on to the examples above, employees can be servant leaders by adopting the 10 tenets outlined by Greenleaf. These include listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and community building.

Seek opportunities to serve.

Once you have established yourself as a servant leader (and even striving to become one) and have encouraged your team to adopt the tenets of the movement, it’s time to get out of the office and serve your community. With so many opportunities to serve in every community throughout the nation, establishing an annual day of service can easily become a fun, company bonding tradition. Search for your area’s Humane Society, Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Parks and Recreation department, women’s shelter, food bank, elementary school, or even a nursing care facility. The opportunities are endless and the needs are great.

We are not the only company striving to achieve servant leadership goals. If you want to launch a company day of service but feel overwhelmed with the idea of finding an appropriate group project, consider enlisting your entire company in a region-wide event like United Way’s Day of Caring.

Last year, United Way of Salt Lake celebrated its annual Day of Caring with 5,700 individuals from 130 companies and groups coming together to volunteer for a total of 135 projects serving communities in four different counties throughout the state. More than $525,000 of labor costs was donated.

In our case, our annual Day of Service is an experience that has benefited our people and our community so greatly we plan to continue this legacy beyond the eight projects we’ve completed so far to carry forward throughout the rest of our years.

Unlike a weekly doughnut or coffee run on the boss’s dime, a culture of servant leadership lasts forever. It bonds participants, builds character, and instills a sense of courage and responsibility in a company workgroup that will far outweigh the occasional parties and fun. If you are looking to build a stronger, more conscientious team of thoughtful, driven, happy, and caring employees–who are ready to go the distance in business and in life–consider making servant leadership a value you instill in the very fabric of your company’s culture, for today and for every year from now on.

Original Article here by David K Williams

2019-04-10T09:21:23+00:00September 30th, 2016|Authentic Leadership, Discussion, Leadership, Leadership Development|

Trump’s sort of Leadership

Trump LeadershipPicking through the phenomenon that is the rise of Donald Trump is not easy. Most people from outside the USA are looking on in horror at the car crash that we see unfolding in front of us. With the post RNC poll bump putting him (barely) in the lead for the first time – we, still recovering from the Brexit result, fear anything can happen. His questionable Leadership style is causing shock in many quarters.

The groundwork for Trumps rise was set by the GOP (Republican Party Leadership) who for the last eight years at least have been living a lie. It would seem that monied and other interests have caused them to blatantly ignore, block or deny (in no particular order) climate change, intellectualism (for Brexit this was “Experts”), evolution, their illegal war in Iraq, affordable health care and any form of gun control. Their tirade of abuse of Obama as president was so ferocious that it must be based in fear or racism. This from the party of Abraham Lincoln. Contrast this behaviour to the previous GOP leadership – George Bush Senior left a note for Bill Clinton which included “You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”

Republican core beliefs about family values, independence, less government rather than more and keeping the status quo are valid points of view, none of which require these inconsistencies. Many competent, experienced suited men were seen to espouse twisted reasoning, denials and spin to suit their needs rather than the will, or the good of, those who elected them (70%-80% of US citizens want some form of gun control). Their members have seen this and have also experienced a massive depression, loss of property and jobs and don’t know who to trust. A large proportion are not educated enough to differentiate truth from spin and most gain their insights from watching Fox news, a biased Republican oriented “news” channel for whom integrity is an after-thought.

Then along comes the anti-establishment candidate, who is not a “hateful” Democrat, with all the answers. He uses simple emotional statements, outright lies, fear mongering, “us and them” rhetoric and claims to have a vision and the solutions to all their problems – if only they elect him.

Fear is the fuel of Trumps campaign. He paints his vision realising that people are fearful and paranoid and feel they are being unfairly treated. He has aligned himself with the emotion, stoking paranoia, being loose with the facts (21 fact checked lies during his RNC acceptance speech). Many of his supporters are people that have seen a decline in their situation and wake up every morning with anxiety about their futures. When you feel like this you look for reasons and project this outward to blame someone or something other than yourself. Trump has given them some targets – Illegal immigrants, Mexican workers, Muslims, trade deals with China and Democrats. All sorts of economic answers are ignored. He connects with his people by telling them what they want to hear and generating memorable soundbites that have got him billions in free publicity. It all seems to make sense to them, like it did in Germany in the late 30’s and early 40’s.

Like Leadership styles in history of the same sort, where divisiveness, lies and hatred form the core of the message, there is revolution, conflict and victimisation. When our Leaders talk and act like this, followers feel they have permission to express and act on their fear and hate. We see this on the streets in the US (and we have seen it post Brexit). When the checks and balances of a democracy like accountability and unbiased reporting are weak and when trust and integrity are gone a gap opens for this other sort of Leadership. It invariably ends badly.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA of ADEO Consulting is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist working with Leaders and Teams in Ireland and the UK. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.

2019-04-10T09:21:23+00:00July 30th, 2016|Discussion, Leadership, Leadership Development|

Why Mindfulness is key to conscious leadership.

Mindfulness is seen as a dirty word in some organisations. It’s often put over in the box with words like “meditation”, “awareness” and other such “tree hugging hippy crap” (Cartman). To some it belongs in the word of the spiritual and should be kept away from words such as “competencies”, “capabilities” and “skills”.  It doesn’t help that the word is appearing all over social media, in the papers and I saw it again yesterday – on a colouring book.  It doesn’t help that it is misunderstood and worse, grabbed by some who do not understand it and shoe-horned into irrelevant contexts.

It is important for leaders and managers in organisations not to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Mindfulness is a key part of awareness and Emotional Intelligence which many will know is critical to successful Leadership.

So what is it? And what the difference between it, awareness and meditation (often confused).

I define Mindfulness as the process of observing your own thoughts and emotions as they arise – without judgement.  Antony DeMello likened it to driving a car. You are watching where you are going, hands on the wheel and eyes on the road but you are scanning for a change in engine noise, a flat tyre or a change in weather conditions. It’s a process going on underneath your conscious active thought process.

Similarly, in the work environment if you are mindful, you become conscious of your habit of mind, your stressors, and your emotional state and so you are more likely to take right action rather than follow an automated response. This is just one reason why Mindfulness as part of Emotional Intelligence benefits leaders – because once they are mindful, they do not avoid or ignore emotion but use it as information, and understand it so they can make whole, clear decisions. Ironic then, particularly with the preconceptions of some, that being Emotionally Intelligent results in being less impacted by emotion.

Meditation is the actual practice of sitting (or sometimes for the more advanced student, walking) and bringing your focus of attention to something in the present which clears your mind so that you can step back and watch your thought processes and feel your emotions so that you know what is stressing you most and also how you feel about things.  When I teach leaders Meditation as part of our Leadership and Emotional Intelligence courses at ADEO Consulting there is often discomfort first (at having to be still) and then surprise and even delight.

According to the Insead business school (2013) “As little as 15 minutes of meditation can actually help people make better, more profitable decisions, by increasing resistance (for example) to the sunk cost bias”

So we practice Meditation and Mindfulness regularly to become aware. An aware individual knows who they are, how they feel and what they want.  Awareness is critical to happiness, amongst other things. Often we seek happiness in ways that are unsuccessful because we are not aware of what we want. We get to the top of the ladder and there’s “no THERE there”.

It is well known that CEO’s like Rupert Murdoch, Bill Ford, Arianna Huffington, Rick Goings (Tupperware) and Mark Benioff (Salesforce.com) as well as many others all meditate and use Mindfulness. In my experience the practice itself is easy, but a challenge is finding the time to do it. It is also true that leaders find it hard to let go of the doing/action drug for long enough. Perhaps a clearer understanding of its benefits to you as a leader and as a result to your organisation will help you move it up your list of priorities.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA of ADEO Consulting is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist working with Leaders and Teams in Ireland and the UK. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.

Staying grounded is key to balancing life and leadership

Authentic LeadershipSuccessful leaders live complex and demanding lives. As the frequency of communication has intensified, the pace of business has increased. Authentic Leadership requires an ability to stay grounded and balanced.

Yet many of us have not learned how to deal with this. There is never enough time to do everything you want to do, because the world around you makes ever greater demands on your time. Nor will you be able to achieve a perfect balance between all aspects of your life – career, family, friends and community, and personal life. Inevitably, you will have to make trade-offs. How you do so will determine how fulfilling your life will be.

How to successfully navigate the sharing economy

Authentic leadership needs awareness of the importance of staying grounded. In doing so, they avoid getting too cocky during high points and forgetting who they are during low points. Spending time with family and close friends, getting physical exercise, having spiritual practices, doing community service, and returning to places where they grew up are all ways to stay grounded. This grounding is essential to their effectiveness as leaders because it enables them to preserve their authenticity.

To avoid letting professional commitments dominate their time, authentic leadership means giving priority to their families and take care of themselves personally, in terms of their health, recreation, spirituality, and introspection. There is no silver-bullet solution to this issue, but neglecting to integrate the facets of life can derail you. To lead an integrated life, you need to bring together the major elements of your personal life and professional life, including work, family, community, and friends, so that you can be the same person in each environment. For authentic leaders, being true to themselves by being the same person at work that they are at home is a constant test, yet personal fulfilment is their ultimate reward. Doing so will make you a more effective leader in all aspects of your life.

Stay Grounded

To integrate your life, you must remain grounded in your authentic self, especially when the outside world is chaotic. Well-grounded leaders have a steady and confident presence. They do not show up as one person one day and another the next. Integration takes discipline, particularly during stressful times, when it is easy to become reactive and slip into bad habits.

Leading is high-stress work. There is no way to avoid stress when you are responsible for people, organizations, outcomes, and uncertainties of the environment. For global leaders, long overseas trips intensify the stress. The higher you go, the greater your freedom to control your destiny but also the higher the stress. The question is not whether you can avoid stress but how you can manage and relieve it to maintain your own sense of equilibrium.

When Medtronic’s Chris O’Connell gets stressed, he said:

“I feel myself slipping into a negative frame of mind. When I’m at my best, I’m very positive and feel I can accomplish anything, both at work and home. When I become negative, I lose effectiveness as a leader and become even less effective at home. Both positive and negative emotions carry over between work and home.”

Focus on What Matters

When Sheryl Sandberg worked as a McKinsey management consultant, her manager implored her to take more control over her career, telling her, “McKinsey will never stop making demands on our time, so it is our responsibility to draw the line … We need to determine how many hours we are willing to work and how many nights we travel.”

After the birth of her son, Sandberg adjusted her in-office hours at Google to 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., enabling her to nurse her son. To compensate, Sandberg got up in the early morning hours to check e-mails and worked at home after her son went to bed. She learned that by focusing her time, she did not need to spend 12 hours a day in the office.

“I focused on what really mattered and became more efficient, only attending meetings that were truly necessary. I was determined to maximize my output while away from home,” said Sandberg. “I also paid more attention to the working hours of those around me; cutting unnecessary meetings saved time for them as well.”

Stay true to your roots

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz goes back to Brooklyn from time to time, Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell stays in regular contact with his old friends in Homestead, Penn., which helps him keep perspective on life in Silicon Valley. To restore themselves and keep their sense of perspective, leaders may have a special place they can go with their families on weekends and vacations. Many renowned leaders found they can think more clearly when they escape: Thomas Jefferson had Poplar Forest and Winston Churchill had Chartwell. For decades, former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz and his wife went to an old family farm they own in Massachusetts.

“I once told the president, ‘This is my Camp David,’” said Shultz. “When I go there, I put on an old pair of pants and old shoes. I am so relaxed, I don’t worry about anything.”

Find time for yourself

To manage the stress of our authentic leadership roles, we need personal time to reflect. Some people practice meditation or yoga to centre themselves and relieve anxiety. Others find solace in prayer. Some people find they can release tension by jogging. Others find relief through laughing with friends, listening to music, reading, or going to movies. It’s not important what you do, as long as you establish routines to relieve your stress and think clearly about life, work, and personal issues. It is critical not to abandon these routines when facing an especially busy period, because that is when you most need your stress reduction techniques.

Adapted from Discover Your True North, Expanded and Updated Edition by Bill George. Copyright (c) 2015 by Bill George. Bill George is a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former chairman and CEO of Medtronic.

Emotional intelligence: why managers should show a softer side

EQ can be just as valuable as IQ in the workplace. It is time we put empathy, encouragement, insight and self-awareness higher up the agenda
A good leader should be empathetic and try to understand how others feel.
A good leader should be empathetic and try to understand how others feel.
Softer skills can be dismissed as being irrelevant at work and historically it used to be considered unprofessional to show an emotional side in business. But times have changed and the importance of so-called emotional intelligence, or EQ, is now being recognised as an important leadership skill, helping govern behaviour and influencing our relationships with others, as well as our own performance and results.

In his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ, psychologist Daniel Goleman described EQ as knowing how one is feeling and being able to handle those feelings without becoming swamped; being able to motivate oneself to get jobs done; being creative and performing at one’s peak; sensing what others are feeling; and handling relationships effectively.

While we are pretty much stuck with our IQ level, emotional intelligence can be developed until well into our forties. Regardless of whether someone is a born leader or not, most people can bolster their work performance by improving their EQ.

Getting in touch with your EQ
The first step in development is to know yourself – to become more self-aware and understand your strengths and weaknesses. Receiving feedback from managers and colleagues can shine a light on how we come across and provide insight into behaviours we need to develop or change. Some people find it helpful to use a mentor or a business coach to help them too. The key to development is to not be defensive about any feedback and instead see it as an opportunity for growth.

Becoming self-aware means recognising our flaws and understanding how we can improve. However, it shouldn’t be an exercise in self-criticism but an opportunity to address our weaknesses and focus on our strengths – a balance is vital.

Developing greater empathy is essential too. A good way to do this is to put yourself in other people’s shoes and avoid being judgmental. For example, perhaps one of your team has been unproductive for a couple of weeks. When you talk to them, you find out they are devastated by the loss of a pet. While you are perhaps not an animal lover, you may have experienced a sense of loss yourself for a different reason and can draw on this experience to show empathy.

In the past, emotions were often thought of as a set of characteristics that needed to be controlled at work as they demonstrated weakness and instability. It was believed that focusing on the task was the only way to increase efficiency.

However, we now know that to function professionally, we have to acknowledge and manage our emotions and others’ to encourage smooth communication and avoid conflicts.

Managing emotions doesn’t mean bottling them up or ignoring them, as this can lead to stress. It’s about understanding them and expressing them constructively. Emotions used positively can be hugely inspirational and motivational for others.

How to enhance your EQ
Here are some tips to increase your own emotional intelligence and that of your team:

Identify your strengths and weaknesses by asking for feedback and observing other people’s reaction to your behaviour. Instead of blaming them for their reaction, ask yourself what could you have done differently.
Get a mentor or a coach that will offer you honest feedback and challenge your behaviour.
Pay attention to when you feel negative emotions. They are usually a sign. If you are frustrated, ask yourself why. If you have explained the same thing three times and people still don’t understand what you mean, take responsibility. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is Einstein’s definition of insanity. Explain it differently. Don’t change the outcome, change the methodology.
Observe your team closely, notice their mindset and emotional state. Address any issues in a constructive manner.
Be empathetic and try to understand how others feel. You may not feel the same way as they do but you may have experienced the same emotion for a different reason. Use this experience to show empathy.
Have the courage to be wrong. Admitting mistakes and learning from themshows character and integrity.
Encourage open communication by listening and being curious about what is being suggested. People in the workplace can often be defensive and showing you are interested in them can open up better communication.
Take the time to acknowledge and thank your team for their effort, and celebrate success.

Original Article Guardian UK August 2015 Here>

Leadership: Politics Or Performance?

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Lead
As we enter organizations, we each face a simple choice: Do we primarily play politics, or do we try daily to perform at our best?

Why do we often choose to play politics? Because the politics of the organization often appear to dictate who is hired, promoted and rewarded, and so playing politics seems to be our best chance to control our plight, especially in a volatile business climate.

Business is not predictable; in fact, outside forces are always creating disruptions that require major shifts in how we work together. We join a company that is headed in one direction, and the next minute it’s turning 180 degrees in another direction.

We can’t control all the market shifts; as leaders, we can only proactively respond to them or try to influence them and ensure that everyone moves with agility in the right direction.

But the big question is this: How do you get everyone to successfully shift, learn new skills, and embrace change for the good of the company?

In the process of change we, as leaders, are bombarded with an incredible amount of detail. Do we have to educate and train employees on a new business direction? Do we leave it to the Human Resources department, or do we educate a few who teach the rest? Who announces the shift and how? What happens if people are afraid of change or don’t want to take on the new challenges, for fear that they won’t learn as fast as others or, worse still, that they may fail?

And, what if you are the one having difficulty? You want to stay with your organization but don’t like the direction it’s headed. What do you do? Do you try overtly to influence other executives to change their minds? Or do you play politics behind the scenes, trying to keep everyone from changing?

Step out of Your Comfort Zone

Answer the following seven self-assessment questions and try to get a realistic picture of how you fare when faced with changes and pressures in the workplace.

1. When challenged by others: Do you doubt your own abilities to lead and allow fear to drive you into defensive behaviors? Or Do you engage with others to build partnerships for success?

2. When competition is fierce: Do you hold on to your old avoidance behaviors or rely on old strategies that have helped in the past? Or Do you focus on engaging with others to discover new strategies for success?

3. When expectations for performance are high: Do you get upset with employees because they are not delivering results? Or Do you focus on having developmental coaching discussions to help them reconnect to their aspirations and skills for success?

4. When your bonus is on the line: Do you step in and get involved in your employees work for fear they may make mistakes? Or Do you focus on engaging with others to discover new strategies for success?

5. When you manage a team: Do you give people the freedom to make decisions and then take back their power when they do things differently than you would? Or Do you focus on Letting Go and allowing them to discover their own answers?

6. When you are leading: Do you find employees retreating, avoiding confrontation, or losing faith in your management? Or Do you focus on encouraging employees to discover their leadership instincts?

7. When employees’ performance is low: Do you confront these problems by deciding it is easier to fire them? Or Do you focus on having courageous conversations and help them grow?

What does this self-assessment show you about how you function when faced with changes and pressures in the workplace?

I encourage you to engage with others to build partnerships for success—to co-create new strategies, to reconnect people to their professional aspirations, to enable people to discover their own answers and their leadership instincts by developing and using your conversational intelligence to have courageous conversations and help them grow.

Original Article here

by Judith E Glaser

psychologytoday.com