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Psychological Wellbeing, the biggest problem in the 2023 workplace?

2022-12-22T13:33:18+00:00December 22nd, 2022|Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Team Performance|

Psychological wellbeing is a big topic right now with a lot of content being generated about the need for positive cultures, leadership, and meeting the needs for job satisfaction.

What doesn’t seem to be getting into the conversation is the damage that was done to psychological wellbeing by the covid pandemic to those returning to the workplace.

The impact of the covid pandemic on many has been highly stressful to the point that it has had an extreme effect on the mental health of many and not only in healthcare. The descriptions from so many studies describing ongoing stressors and anxiety and the decline in mental health are harrowing, particularly given that some studies were done only half-way through the pandemic and the pressure stayed on for another year at least. Depression, anxiety and PTSD are recorded in many studies with one review describing people “living within a milieu of stress, anxiety, and fear.”

One non-healthcare study from the UK reported several direct effects on mental health resulting from grief and bereavement or from the loss of social interactions and relationships due to social distancing and restrictions. Another non-healthcare study from the United States found that 64% had experienced moderate to high exposure to adverse experiences during the pandemic and were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Other recent studies of some general populations are showing very high levels of poor wellbeing, and some are showing around 30% suffering from depression. These scores are higher, on average in the yougest age groups but still very significant in all the others.

I have written before that those organisations too pressured to get back to work, too focused on spreadsheets rather than their people will be much slower to get back to full performance, losing talented people along the way. What is not clear yet is the long-term impact and what interventions may be necessary for full recovery. Certainly, there are some potential start points from the interventions for psychological wellbeing and PTSD that have been used in the past.

Compared to this problem, the impact of changing to more hybrid work may be inconsequential.

Taking time and using some resources to ensure your people are ok will also help them understand they can trust you and your organisation. Richard Branson has said look after your people and your people will look after your customers. Take care of your people folks its good for business but more importantly its the right thing to do.

Tread softly.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA MSc (Psych) is the founder of ADEO Consulting Ltd and a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist and Coach, who has worked with leaders and teams at all levels of the private and public sectors. He has over 30 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes. He is the author of LeadFromYou – We need aware, authentic and emotionally intelligent leaders. – now available in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon and in audiobook form via Audible and iTunes.

Young people these days …

2022-12-05T12:14:11+00:00December 5th, 2022|Culture, Discussion, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Motivation|

The wrong mindset is causing organisations to fail.


I heard a story about a discussion amongst management and senior staff in an organisation recently (a true story and i’d say more common than you might think). I know of the organisation for a while and consider their management practices as from somewhere in the 1950’s. It’s completely hierarchical, sometimes abusive and controlled by unseen stakeholders who couldn’t be less interested in the welfare of their employees. Leveraging a great brand allows them to function – but even that isn’t helping now.


If they actually took time to understand their culture (which is awful) and its impact, they would still resist change to their last manager. Even the impact on clients doesn’t seem to matter so long as the revenues keep coming in. Currently (post-covid) they are haemorrhaging staff and are unable to get replacements – so the the organisation is imploding as the strain on existing staff is intolerable and increasing the rate of the numbers leaving. Newer staff doing internships have no intention of ever working there when their time is up – preferring other organisations. Suddenly (!) those all important revenues are under threat.

Recently their management discussions start with something like “young people these days” and one or two managers that have been on google mention “Gen Z” and “Quiet Quitting.” They blame the new generations for their current travails. The transcripts of exit interviews are sneered at. Typical comments are “They fancy themselves as a bit special.” “They just don’t work as hard”. “Such an attitude”. Nobody with enough autonomy has yet turned around and suggested “maybe we are doing something wrong?”.

Three main points to understand:

1. The newer generations mindsets are different but not necessarily wrong.

2. The companies who evolve their leadership. management and their culture will attract and retain these highly trained, techno-literate, multitasking and competent people. These people have the competencies your organisation needs – they are no longer at the centre of your organisation but at the edges facing clients.

3. Those organisations that do not evolve will fail, go extinct, or disappear as the changed/changing environment puts serious evolutionary pressure on you.

The idea that people should be happy to have a job should be consigned to a theme park of 20th century thinking. Instead of whining about attitude, think about leveraging the mindset and looking for the opportunities. The more agile and flexible your approach the more likely your organisation can evolve – and for many organisations right now, it’s evolve or die.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA is the founder of ADEO Consulting Ltd and a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist and Coach, who has worked with leaders and teams at all levels of the private and public sectors. He has over 30 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes. He is the author of LeadFromYou – We need aware, authentic and emotionally intelligent leaders. – now available in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon and in audiobook form via Audible and iTunes.

Podcast: ‘Lead From You?’ Tara Nolan interviews Aidan James Higgins

2022-12-15T12:02:26+00:00November 15th, 2022|Discussion|

Also available here on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

Introduction:

Aidan James Higgins is the CEO of ADEO Consulting. He is a Leadership Consultant, Emotional intelligence & Teamwork specialist and is passionate about getting people to be at their best. He is the author of the book Lead From You, which launched at the end of 2021 and is now in 7 countries.

Podcast Episode Summary

This episode speaks to three concepts, awareness, authenticity & emotional intelligence. Aidan employs the psychometric The Enneagram to support leaders understand themselves and others better and to Lead from You.

Points made across the podcast episode

Fish Slap story explored and why it resonated with Aidan. He was woken up at a Management Training Program where he realised, he was living from one world view. The training had shocked Aidan that the world he had been inhabiting was only one point of view.
Most of us are asleep. We are working on our programming without interrogating it to improve our self- awareness.
Aidan wrote the book Lead From You because of the appreciation clients & friends held for the work and their interest in learning more.

Feedback from the book suggests readers are appreciating the importance of self-awareness and how it is contributing to clarity of decision making, trust building, empathy & compassion.Aidan points out that we must have self-compassion to appreciate we have grown up to be & do in a particular way and until we come to be aware we think it is the only way.

Aidan has attempted to author a book that helps a person be a more complete person, to be happier and to lead. Aware, emotionally intelligent & authentic Leadership is what is needed in the 21st century People & Leaders need to wake up and pull back what is referred to as the veil of illusion.

To become self-aware, to be authentic and emotionally intelligent requires of a leader or team member to wake up. Once people wake up, they generally become curious to learn more. Resistance is often present in this work, too many of us are trained to avoid emotion, being soft and being empathetic or compassionate.

People do not realise they are unaware. Aidan shares a story from Anthony de Mello to help explain what he means by being self-aware. Tich Na Han says “people will not change until they are sick of suffering”
We are subject to a programming that was brought into us early on in our lives. We make all kinds of assumptions about the way we are to lead or act. Example: Must remain in control.

Benefits of becoming self-aware & other awareness means clearer decisions, clearer emotional awareness and therefore information, access to creativity and innovation. We evolve a view of the world until we see it from where it has come and how useful it is to remain. For example, the child who learns to please people to get attention or a person who is ignored if they do not win can be programs that thwart successful leadership in the future.

Becoming self-aware is not a thing you do it is about understanding. Knowing what water is doesn’t make you wet.
Aidan helps clients become aware by first creating a safe space to be together and then by sharing how people are likely to have come up through the world. He shares his framework and gives people space to reflect on their beliefs, habits and patterns, ways that have informed up until now.

Aidan shares another example where he asks a client how is feeling when he is not working. The client responded “trapped” and felt the rise of anxiety when he wasn’t doing anything. This client then became aware that underneath is drive to get things done, there was an anxiety driving this way of being. Understanding changes behaviour not a set of things to do.

Sometimes you ask someone how they feel, and they do not have the words or language to tell you. It can often be about giving clients words.

According to a Harvard Business Review, improved self-awareness on teams doubles decision making capability & doubles the ability of a team to deal with conflict.

The Enneagram is a system that has been around for years. Authored by the Greeks who divined that there were 9 ways to look at the world. These world views begin around the time of a child where object constancy is understood. It is similar but deeper than MYERS BRIGGS type indicator.

The Enneagram employed on teams helps team members understand each other better. Understanding in turn leads to emotional intelligence. Working with a team, Aidan will start by building the self-awareness of the members of the team, often by using the Enneagram tool. Then he moves to create awareness of the other members of the team, which often brings a team to compassion and fuller sharing.

Team Emotional Intelligence explores nine norms. 3 Team Fundamental Norms: Roles and Responsibilities, Meetings and Goals & Objectives. 3 Individual Norms: Understanding Team Members, Demonstrating Care, Addressing undesirable behaviours, 4 Team Norms, Review the team, Support Expression, Build Productivity Proactively and Build Optimism, 2 External Norms; Build external relationships & Understand Team Context. These nine norms lead to three outcomes: Psychological Safety, Team Identity and Constructive Dialogue.

Aidan is amazed at how often the team fundamentals have not been worked. In an example Aidan shares how a Team Leader confused sending a team memo about the purpose of the team and their roles meant that they had been communicated with and would therefore understand.

Other examples of where teams get stuck include conflict avoidance believing “we are too nice” can mean bringing new ideas is risky.
Addressing team norms early on can mean a team becomes more effective early on and can in many instances take on bigger projects.
Team resistance comes from being too quick with the change and not allowing buy-in over time, not explaining the “why” for change & not taking care to identity willing enthusiasts who could tip the team into working with the change.

With some teams all you can expect to get to is professional respect. Personal conflicts can mean enmity for years.
Resistance can also present from a formed organisational culture. Teams need to remember that changing the composition of a team means that previous shared understanding is temporality lost, requires a period of mourning and then a willingness to induct new members. Teams must move back to Norm and storm where they had originally moved through all the four phases of team development: forming, norming, storming and performing.

Aidan explains that understanding is a holistic phenomenon.

Team Emotional Intelligence requires that a team deals with emotions, and we deal with them as they arise. Some people are terrified of emotions, or some of the 9 types are terrified especially in a high-pressured business that needs to get things done. There is fear that emotional expression will slow the team down. Instead, the team needs to generate appropriate boundaries, self-regulate and self-correct.

The evolutionary mind suggests that teams are tribal, require a purpose and a Leader is appointed by way of certain needed tasks.
Notwithstanding that Aidan has already littered this conversation with anecdotes and stories he was asked to share a story of a team that illuminates his work.

He chose a large team that was asked to go through extraordinary change, to cut costs while simultaneously improving productivity. This team was not provided all the information available, and they were not allowed to communicate the required change to those on the ground. Luckily the team were already self-aware, were IQ, EQ savvy and had each taken the Enneagram survey. Aidan had been working with the same team for two years. The situation demanded an understanding on the self of ambiguity, the impact of mindsets they needed to influence and the impact of culture. That project was about teaching the team to focus on Purpose, decision making, trust and resilience but also about their own personal issues with control & trying & failing that needed to be managed.

Organisations today need to think in terms of Teams of Teams to be able to deal with the pressures & demands of today’s business. Complexity and expertise at the edges makes the case for this way of thinking.

Teams need to be agile and have a peer structure where everybody contributes and where the Leader is a servant or at a minimum a supporter of the team.

Positive conflict is encouraged along diversity of opinion & an appetite emotional discourse within boundaries.
Finally, teams need time to reflect & improve.

Thankyou Tara.

This podcast and information was collected from the original page on Tara Nolan’s website here.

Quiet Quitting: Just a new term for an ongoing problem.

2022-08-24T12:36:24+00:00August 24th, 2022|Discussion|

Quiet Quitting is a leadership issieQuiet quitting, recently popularised in the media, is defined as “not abruptly leaving a job but starting to do the minimum amount of possible work while keeping the job”. The Wall St journal ran an article “If Your Co-Workers Are ‘Quiet Quitting,’ Here’s What That Means,” on August 12th, the New York times on August 22nd “Who Is Quiet Quitting For?” and the The Guardian (UK) on “Quiet Quitting: Why Doing the Bare Minimum at Work Has Gone Global.” This feeding frenzy has spun up from a viral TikTok video on the topic. Like a lot of media coverage these days, an opinion on social media gathers momentum by attracting interest and eventually the more respected print media will make it mainstream by talking about the controversy – making the issue “real” news. Especially in the silly season.

The is no doubt that “Quiet Quitting” has been going on for years. The way its defined it is just about being disengaged or not fully engaged at work. Not giving your 100% best. This is most people btw. Gallup has been measuring this for over a decade (check out this 2013 poll)  and have been finding that most employees are not fully engaged by their work. Recent global results are still poor. The challenges relating to this for leadership and management have spawned much commentary and column inches. The bottom line is the more of your people are engaged the better will be your organisations performance, and stakeholder or shareholder value. So, leadership and management get to it!

There is a little bit of Generational bias here too. “Oh what are young people like these days!” I wrote about this in my book “LEAD FROM YOU” that the Millennials and Gen Z’s are often motivated by different things. One of them is work-life balance. One of the many reasons for this is these generations watched the behaviour of some larger organisations and lack of regulation and wonder “Why would I give my life over to those people?” They watched many of their parents ruin their health after disappearing from their families for 40 years and they think, “no not for me.” They really are not interested in getting the corner office.

I remember watching a CEO describe to a mostly millennial audience his 25 years at Honeywell and the gold watch they gave him on retirement. They were in stitches laughing at the idea that he could work for one company for 25 years. As most of them did not wear watches (they have phones) this made it even funnier.

Many of the people in the generations aged from 18-45 (ish) years want to work with teams, with the latest technology (with which they are brilliant) and they want work with PURPOSE. Purpose is what gets these people engaged. “Why are we doing this?” They want leaders to help them understand their “Why” and guide them. Leaders who work with them and give them autonomy and trust them to get their jobs done. They want to develop personally and upskill as much as possible. All of this too, aligns with hybrid-working and many of these people can see this. Can leaders?

It is often the case that organisations try to motivate their people by offering promotions and power and desire their people to be cut-throat and ambitious. But what sort of teams do you get with this culture? What sort of collaboration? The complex problems we face today require motivated teams, sometimes self-organising, to solve. We are struggling to attract and retain good people. One positive step might be dropping the idea that people who think like this are “less than,” or “getting away with it” because they see the world differently. The question we should be asking is how to we create the environment to allow these people and these teams to engage and prosper? It starts with leadership.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA is the founder of ADEO Consulting Ltd and a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist and Coach, who has worked with leaders and teams at all levels of the private and public sectors. He has over 30 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes. He is the author of LeadFromYou – We need aware, authentic and emotionally intelligent leaders. – now available in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon and in audiobook form via Audible and iTunes.

Three big contributors to the Irish Rugby Team’s triumph in New Zealand.

2022-07-25T14:05:48+00:00July 25th, 2022|Authentic Leadership, Discussion, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Team Performance|

Emotional Intelligence, Trust and Systems Thinking - Ireland v New Zealand rugbyI was overjoyed last week at the triumph of the Irish Rugby Team in New Zealand and having had a little time to think on it I see there is an opportunity to learn from it. The main elements that contributed to it are also elements needed in the organisation and the teams within it.

Looking at the size of the challenge and the enormity of the success one has to understand that this was only the fifth test series win in New Zealand in 60-something attempts in over one hundred-plus years and the first since rugby went professional. It was a huge mountain to climb for any team against the most successful international team ever and three times world cup winners. The result was akin to the Lord of the Rings (filmed in New Zealand) – it’s as if our lads went over there and managed to destroy the one ring in Mordor. New Zealand is a proud country about the same size as Ireland, and similar in a lot of ways, but everybody plays rugby (in Ireland it’s the No3 sport). The New Zealanders are not lessened by their loss on this occasion – as we shall see – the mountain remains.

Element 1 – Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is often about keeping control of emotions, sometimes under great pressure. Rugby requires the players to be “up for it”. You have to be mentally ready to put your body on the line, to run into and make hard contacts with the opposition. Its not a place for slow thinking except during restarts and when the game is full on then emotions and instincts come to the fore described by Kahneman as system one thinking. Keeping the emotional intensity at the right level without getting penalised or making errors was a huge part of the success. It’s a learned skill. As is keeping your head when you’re winning and the cognitive dissonance kicks in (“We cant be beating New Zealand!”). Ireland over the years always had the bravery and the bottle. Sometimes too much. This was cooler and calmer and playing away from home and using the pitch just as if you were playing at home – this required a very positive mindset. Think of the benefits this kind of emotional Intelligence can bring to the workplace especially in times of change.

Element 2 – Trust

Farrell is a direct and honest coach and leader. He is described as caring for his team, he leads the way and watching his media interviews he neither gets overexcited with the wins or too down with the losses. He did have a certain glint in his eyes after the New Zealand win though. I was struck by the Keith Earls story of Farrell stepping in at a team meeting when he thought Earls might be embarrassed by something. To protect his man. When a leader is authentic and you feel he or she has your back you can focus on what’s in front of you. When trust and honesty is there then it frees the mind to make choices in real time. If it works it works, if not try again next time – there is no fear of failure.

Think about getting the ball and having to make one of four decisions in 1-2 seconds. Meanwhile a 20 stone man who looks like he’s made out of granite, wants to cut you in half. If you don’t make the decision, he will. There is no time for fear of failure, thinking, or strategy. Its system one all the way. Mike Tyson once said that the plan goes out the window once you get the first punch in the mouth. Field Marshal von Moltke said similarly that “No plan survives contact with the enemy”.  Trust brings agility (quick response) and often innovation (try something different). Think how this applies in the workplace.

Element 3 – Systems thinking

Systems thinking is about the interaction of parts and this is what leads to outcomes and to success. So the Ireland team were using systems and interchanges that were precise, accurate and which led to success. One example is the formation of runners when taking the ball up. I have seen it before when Pat Lam’s Connacht won the Pro12 and runners would come together only making decisions in real time as the defence adapted. So Ireland, running up the ball don’t have a plan to give it to one player or the other – the decision maker can see where the gap is in the defence and in the last half second gives the ball to the right player on his shoulder or keeps it or spins it wider. Systems are used for rucking, set pieces, becoming available for a pass etc and different systems achieve different goals in different parts of the field, as part of the greater whole. All these little systems are focused upon, in real time, rather than the overall outcome. If something fails, they go back to the appropriate system in real time. Reset. Start again. No blame. We are all in this together. They also retain the flexibility to change systems if opportunities opened up.

So I am still delighted by the performance and the win. Incredible odds and incredible sportsmanship by New Zealand after the event. Their consensus is that Ireland were very good we need to get better. Another great mindset.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA is the founder of ADEO Consulting Ltd and a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist and Coach, who has worked with leaders and teams at all levels of the private and public sectors. He has over 30 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes. He is the author of LeadFromYou – We need aware, authentic and emotionally intelligent leaders. – now available in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon and in audiobook form via Audible and iTunes.

Equality and inclusion requires leaders to be aware of their subconscious bias.

2022-06-27T12:19:26+00:00June 27th, 2022|Discussion|

Diversity in the modern organisation is regarded by management theorists and academics alike as a positive for performance and financial results. After a diversity literature review Marquis et al (2008) observed that the business case for diversity was strongly supported adding that a diverse workforce does improve performance and boost the bottom line”.

However, diversity is impacted by the biases we all have, some conscious and some unconscious. Even the most egalitarian of us use stereotypes to make our way in the world. A complex world, getting more complex daily, requires us to breakdown and categorize things and people around us. This is OK so long as we are aware of what we are doing. Many are shocked to find that they are operating under the illusion that they have no biases. These biases can be unearthed using psychological tests where congruence and reaction times are measured.

Take one example. Try for a moment to think about a regional accent that you are aware of, and the characteristics that you associate with that accent, either good or bad. If you list those characteristics, you might find that you have a belief or an assumption about people who speak with that accent. Do you think that this could influence your hiring practices or your promotion practices within your organization? Taking the regional accent as one example of bias try to think of similar examples. Many leaders, often with the best will in the world, have biases about gender, race, skin color, nationality, age, or educational background. Sometimes we are positively biased, but this can also lead to an imbalance as the leader unquestioningly behaves more positively towards the individual or individuals in a group towards which he or she is positively biased.

Remembering that when people think too similarly then groupthink is a challenge (blamed by many for the financial crisis of 2008), leaders must continue questioning their biases about those with whom they surround themselves. Diverse opinion leading to positive conflict is very good for leveraging the best from leadership teams.

According to Hofhuis et al (2016) what is termed a positive diversity climate (culture) does enhance outcomes in the workplace through improved trust and more honesty in day to day team communication. Van Knippenberg et al. (2004) observed that diverse teams are better able to access a greater resource of knowledge and experience, which also enhances team effectiveness. In terms of your biases, moving them from subconscious to conscious through awareness helps a lot especially for the trustworthy and morally minded leader.

Its ok not to like some people of course but try to be aware and try to be fair.

The great resignation: three leadership blindspots

2021-11-16T14:04:31+00:00November 16th, 2021|Discussion|

Four million resignations in the US in July 2021 and 10.9 million jobs unfilled. One leader of an international US business says 55% of his workers refusing to come back to work. Similar problems have appeared in Ireland and the UK.

If you’re a leader sitting there wondering about why people are resigning or leaving your organization, consider these three things. Check in with yourself.

Your issues with control

Why are so many leaders insisting people come back to the office? Why so much resistance to allowing the continuation of remote work? A leader who insists on an unnecessary office return has issues with trust. In some cases, it’s a practical requirement of getting the work done, but there are many cases where the pandemic has proved that remote work is workable and yet these people are being asked to return to the office. That’s adding back the necessity and stress for child-care and of course the horror of the commute.

When your people know that they can get their job done as well as or even better than they used to while in the office, and you continue to insist that they return full time to the office, this makes no sense to them. So it’s a control issue, with presenteeism your focus, do these people feel that you trust them? Do you?

I have worked with leaders who nearly faint at the idea of being out of control. And funnily enough it’s really only the illusion of control. Leaders who get to grip with the idea that being out of control is not the end of the world, succeed as they allow agility and flexibility and innovation to prosper in their organization. But many leaders are not aware that they need control to feel safe. How do you feel about control?

Your assumption people should be happy to have a job

It wasn’t so long ago that there was a celebration when somebody got a job in a bank or a similar large institution. They were set for life. In the modern environment the idea of spending 25 years working for one company is often seen as a “boomer” thing. Certainly the later generations with their high tech skills and their ability to work very well in groups and remotely, realize that loyalty to organizations is a thing of the past. They consider this truth to be self-evident having watched the layoffs, corruption, and environmental terrorism taking place over the last two decades.

Success in this modern world and in the future relies on winning the war for talent. That talent resides in the hands of the people that actually do the work for the organization, and is a key organizational capability. A harsh truth is that without the ability to attract and retain the available talent your organization will not survive. So, the idea that people should be happy to have a job, particularly the key talent in your organization, is long past its sell-by-date. Leaders need to stop thinking like that and so stop acting like that.

Whether the leadership style you use is current or inherited from a different world.

So where did you learn your leadership? Did you learn it over the last 20 years and base it on a model which was developed and used in the last century, or are you up to speed with the fast moving, ever changing environment we all now operate in. In this environment leadership is always leadership of change. Here we are stuck in the middle of a huge change driven by global events. Some are trying to go back to the way things were. To put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Innovation, agility, flexibility and adaptability are words that have been in free flow in management and leadership theory for the last 10 years. So now here we all are, and when all of those capabilities are needed our tendency to is to resist change, to go to the old ways of doing things or to go with what we know. When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

There’s a lot going on, and many of us feel like we’re trying to right the boat and get it up and sailing again and then get it moving. But the boat has changed and the wind is coming from a different direction. You need to recognize this and deal with the ambiguity, while being agile enough to try new things as you feel your way forward in this new environment.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA
Leadership and Teamwork Specialist and
Founder and Director at Adeo Consulting Ltd
Author of Lead From You

The trouble with Marks Meta-verse

2021-11-10T15:02:18+00:00November 8th, 2021|Culture, Discussion, Leadership, Motivation, Team Performance|

If you were hanging around in 2006 you would have come across an idea called Second Life which offered an online universe in which you could meet others, build, buy and sell and explore. Some used it as a meeting point, as you could sit around a table beside a waterfall and conduct a virtual meeting. It was the next big thing. It wasn’t though. Second Life is still going however many figured out that interacting with real people was a superior experience.

Roll around 2022 and we have Mark Zuckerberg’s “new” idea to create an alternate universe, a metaverse to interact with others. Perhaps he is assuming that the people who did well with Zoom and similar through the pandemic will take to the Metaverse.

Perhaps its Mark’s robotic persona or his brilliant but perhaps impractical mind, or maybe it’s me. I don’t get it. Sure, it’ll be fun to try out. But then? If the vision is that people want to live their lives on-line, then this is mistaken. If the vision is to hook people into spending their lives as an Avatar then this is dangerous.

Zoom fatigue is a thing. But some people prefer Zoom – those not confident with people or who are sensitive to interactions with others can prefer to be at the other end of a screen if possible. However, while Zoom and the other tech did well through the pandemic when it was necessary, it’s not ideal. It negates the power of person to person interaction and the human connection so necessary to happiness and our feeling of belonging that drives a team to be greater than the sum of its parts.

We also communicate mostly through body language and a lot of this is missing with remote interacting. From a leadership perspective, belief and passion that power purpose, trust and motivation are diluted considerably by remote connection. This is why hybrid models of working must include real connection time in the schedule for teams and groups that work together. All of the problems of remote working will be made much worse by using avatars to communicate.

I was a fan of Facebook. The original idea was to connect people and allow them to stay connected over long distance. This was a good idea. But its been skewed now by misuse, bad algorithms and intentional polarisation. It replaced “the internet” which has become a search engine but also a purveyor of porn and similar. Is Facebook saveable? I don’t know. But creating a Metaverse to replace it is doing the opposite of connecting people.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA
Leadership and Teamwork Specialist and
Founder and Director at Adeo Consulting Ltd
Author of Lead From You

Leaders. Post Pandemic Stress will need time and empathy for many.

2021-06-04T11:23:59+00:00June 4th, 2021|Discussion, Emotional Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Leadership|

Stress is like holding a glass of water at arms length. Its ok for a little while when necessary but it gets painful over time and you will need to put the glass down and take a rest. You can pick it up later of course. This is a popular adage and quite accurate.

This last 12-18 months there are many who have been holding too much for too long. Assuming your organisations are well run your people were operating close to a stress line before the pandemic hit. The change, constant worry and media misery will have caused many to stiffen up in resistance while doing their best to carry on contributing. We have also seen workload increases and resources dropping so many are doing far more with less.

I am hearing from people that many are at the end of their rope. The last thing your people need now is pressure from you and your organisation to “catch up”. What your people need is time under less pressure, to recover, to get their bearings, to feel safe again. Some recognition too of effort and loyalty would not go amiss. The last thing they need is a leader trying to fill the hole in his or her year end figures.

Think long term and think sustainably. Get your mind into 2022 and beyond. What will happen if you think about spreadsheets and burn out what’s left of your people? On the other hand what will happen if you take care of them and show that you and your organisation genuinely care about them in the aftermath?

Your care needs to be tailored to the individual – some will have suffered more than others due to many factors – personality, financial, home life etc. Some will be dying to get back to work and some will have crawled along the street, exhausted, just to get to the office. There’s an opportunity here, don’t miss it.

Our Leaders need some joined-up thinking to implement the new greener program for government.

2020-06-17T13:35:42+00:00June 17th, 2020|Discussion|

Delighted to see a new government forming at last. I am hoping the words match the deeds in the coming months and years. However there seems to be a lack of joined up thinking about actually getting a Green Plan for Government done. Laudable and way overdue targets will be difficult to achieve without coordinated system change. There is a huge amount of good will but a lack of ability get the good work done. Business that has a positive environmental impact keeps getting blocked by poor regulations and inefficiencies in our public bodies. Look at these examples.

Do you know how many Croke Parks full of clean water we dump into storm drains every time it rains? This with regular drought emergencies and a proposed pipeline from the Shannon? Do you know how much it costs to pump and then treat a litre of water from, say, a well in South Wicklow, to the reserve in Blessington and then to a home in Dublin? I worked as a consultant for a few years with a company that provided rainwater harvesting and stormwater management solutions. Our high quality solutions were cheaper, easier to maintain, made from recycled materials and bio-filtered stormwater before returning it to the water table in pure form. There were loads of other benefits like reduced flooding etc etc. Blocking both solutions were projects specifying only concrete tanks which were blocked within a year, (so environmentally friendly!) and some councils refusing to deduct the charges for water supply when the client were collecting their own rainwater – effectively blocking investment. Other technologies such as porous concrete (that lets rainwater through into the ground) and similar also get no traction in this country. Is it lack of interest or vested interests?

Did you know that right now that the people who plant forestry in this country are sitting idle at this moment because of regulation. The current regulatory and licencing system has presided over the worst year for planting nationally since 1949 with less than 3,000 hectares planted in 2019 – and 2020 may even be worse. Ireland already intends to increase its level of forestry by 8,000 hectares a year. This is vital in terms of achieving our carbon reduction goals of 7% per annum and was designated to offset some of the increase in CO2 from agriculture. The figures are way too low and the current rate of approvals of forestry projects is 50% of the required rate with, for example, 60,000 tonnes of timber stalled in one week alone in April. Farmers who are interested in swapping say, beef production, for more profitable long term carbon reducing forestry cannot get their requirements met!

The Covid19 crisis has forced a lot of people work to from home. The roads are empty, there are no CO2 /NO2 generating traffic jams and our carbon output has dropped. Why not make a visible effort to keep some of that benefit post Covid19. An initiative should be driven by government – rather than by announcements from big tech companies – incentivise people and companies to keep people working from home (if they wish it). Do it now. Provide a minimal level of broadband capability even if it means grant-aiding or subventing the provision of 5G and ramping up its rollout. Give people tax breaks to stop commuting and use broadband instead when possible. Companies are reporting improved performance, people are reporting improved life balance – why are we not supporting and encouraging this CO2 friendly approach when its in the national and international interest???

Much of the problem lies in cross departmental communication and co-operation as well as the culture and sometimes bureaucratic nightmare that exists within parts of our civil service. We have seen real leadership from our government in the last few months, can we please see more of it to address the climate crisis with good green business opportunities. All it needs is some joined up thinking.

Aidan Higgins BEng MBA of ADEO Consulting Ltd is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist and coach working with Leaders and Teams at all levels of the Private and Public sectors in Ireland. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.

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