April 16, 2018
Here’s a story of two new starters on the same day – an intern at a tech start-up and a new CEO for a medium-sized listed tech company, both in the City of London. I was interested to hear reports of their first day and the promises they made or were made to them.
At the internal company briefing the new CEO promises his staff “small” things that make a big difference like listening and asking questions and plenty of big things, like a new corporate culture and strategic direction. He has already worked out, by talking to people in advance of his arrival, what the company needs, which is outlined in his strategic focus on building a customer-centric organisation with greater staff empowerment and pride. This comes with responsibility and he will hold people accountable. He envisages better customer relationships and higher growth. His tone is confident and his manner is one of optimism and high engagement. After all, this final move in his long international career means that his lasting reputation is at stake.
The student intern is delighted by his first day. The welcome was warm, the daily company breakfast “awesome”, he reports of stories and stand-ups (nothing to do with comedy, this is all agile language), of a lack of hierarchy, approachable, enthusiastic employees, and the sense that he is of value (since a senior programmer spent a whole hour of “boxes and lines” meeting with him) and people invested their time in making him feel a part of the team from the start. Like every other employee, he is promised an hour of self-development investment time at the end of every day, to do what he likes. This he thinks shows commitment to independent thought and creativity as well as displaying trust in people to make best use of this time. He has started his new job with a high degree of motivation and this is even before he knows what he will be doing there … that will transpire as specific project needs arise.
In both cases first impressions were very positive and only time will tell whether the promises made will be delivered upon. We think it is really important to be clear about the promises we make to our stakeholders, both internal and external, not least because we need to deliver on them to be successful. We don’t need to look far to see examples of the massive fallout when organisations over-promise and under-deliver. (Carillion in the UK is a most recent one). Are the promises we make consistent to our different stakeholder groups? Have we taken time to consider how our brand (the sum of our external promises) is perceived and how this matches what our customers and employees are experiencing at first hand? What do we “promise” without being consciously aware that we are doing so?
What happens when promises are broken, or expectations of delivery don’t match what we actually get? We can take charge of our promises and our stakeholder relationships by asking these questions and answering them truthfully (from the perspectives of multiple stakeholders). This helps us to measure consistency and take action to address any gaps. Keeping these promises will create and sustain the inspirational, successful climate promised by the CEO and experienced by the intern.
February 16, 2018
Never before have we needed more true and honest leadership to manage the complexity of our current business world. We need 21st century leaders! The reality is that leaders in organisations today have to cope with so much – not just long days, never-ending to-do lists and fighting the balance between short term demands versus longer term strategic direction but also the fragmentation of their teams, virtual working, dis-connection, the unpredictability of their marketplace, their business, the insecurity of their jobs. We often note how the public sector limits the potential for leadership. Many leaders are frustrated by their lack of real executive power and spend endless hours coordinating agencies, trying to eke out limited resources due to lack of funding and dealing with the next government initiative. Press reports for the private sector are often no better, with headlines of self-serving executives being completely disconnected from their stakeholders, both internal and external. (more…)
January 11, 2018
At the start of the New Year we may consider our resolutions – do we remember what we promised ourselves last year? How great was our intention to act on our promises to ourselves and others? Maybe we achieved some shift and we can congratulate ourselves if so, since the vast majority of resolutions do not reach fulfilment. So what’s makes the difference?
Having the vision of success is key – what will the new me look like? How will my relationships be changed? What plans will reach fruition? Can I picture this, not just as a still but as a movie clip in my head – what will I be doing, thinking, feeling, experiencing differently? (more…)
December 13, 2017
Today in Sweden we celebrate Lucia Day. This is a celebration about light: it’s the darkest time of the year and the start of Swedish Christmas festivities. Santa Lucia is borrowed from Syracuse in Sicily from where this saint of light, patron of the blind, originates. The Swedish words are not a translation from the Italian lyrics but rather an ode to Santa Lucia who walks with candles and lights up the dark. Since the daylight hours last only 6 hours and 10 minutes today in Stockholm, candles are a very good idea. But do they do the job in all our darkest hours? Perhaps there is something here about acceptance of the darkness too? In fact we may need to lean into the darkness in order to appreciate the light even more. (more…)
October 16, 2017
At Pilates we do this exercise called the cat. Imagine being on all fours, like the animal. In neutral, our teacher tells us our backs should be like a table top on which a drink could be placed without spilling. From there we curl in to stretch the lower back and then go into a dip to stretch the shoulders, then back to neutral. Neutral is the position in which your core is strong, and you are completely in balance. Sometimes it can take a bit of time to feel your way into this position – we’re so used to either hunching or tensing that we forget that state of balanced relaxation.
I think that being “authentic” is like that neutral state – natural, strong and balanced. This state is free from the sunken feeling – the victim mindset where we give away our power and apologise for our existence. It is also free from the need to appear bigger than we are, imposing our presence in a way that is strained, forced and unnatural.
Sometimes people shy away from changing any aspect of themselves because they feel this would not be authentic. When we coach, we challenge this assertion. To become more of our real self means daring to show up more. This may mean finding out things about ourselves that are hidden – to others as well as ourselves. It doesn’t feel comfortable to push the boundaries of our normal behaviour, since we mostly operate in a limited range, narrowed by years of conditioning. We need to stretch in order to grow, just like in Pilates. We can broaden the range of what is relaxed and strong by breathing through what is tight and tense. A conscious stretch warm-up on a regular basis makes all the difference – daily!
Try it out – stand, grounded and strong! Feel your personal power – a stance that is neither less or more than you are. Nothing can be more than the real you. The real you, neither shrunken or puffed up from fear, is enough.
April 25, 2017
March 9, 2017
It all started over a scrambled egg lunch when a friend asked me what I thought transformation was. A group of us had been contemplating the local New Year Swim and for some, it was the first time and a scary prospect, hence the turn of conversation.
Recently a participant asked me the same thing in a leadership development course and I was reminded of that discussion. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve blogged about transformation before (Transformation – really?). Positive, sustainable transformation is at the centre of our work: connecting the current to the potential whether that’s the current you to the potential you, the current team to the potential team, or the current organisation to the potential one. (Potential, I believe is always one step ahead of your current position).
I define transformation as a shift in perception that renders the previously impossible, possible. I believe it is deep courageous work which in its wake brings humility and compassion since as we strive to stretch beyond current limits we surely recognise the struggles of others and the path that still lies ahead of us.
Some of you may be wondering about the relevance of humility and compassion in the work place? My contention is they are elements that both produce and are the products of transformation. Without them you will not see the need to look beyond what is to what’s possible or inspire others to do the same. Still others may be questioning the value of change that goes on around them- change for change’s sake. I would argue if it keeps you in the same small spiral, or takes you to an even smaller one, it’s not transformation as we define it: something which connects and moves to the greater potential.
Finally, you may say that you don’t see examples of people exercising the type of leadership which inspires and exemplifies transformation. Well we need them. The result of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we inhabit is that “senior roles now demand a portfolio of skills and human capacities little short of the miraculous.” (p41 Dancing at the edge: Competence, Culture and Organisation in the 21st Century: Maureen O’Hara and Graham Leicester). Included amongst those “miraculous human capacities” are humility and compassion.
As a result of the conversation around that table, and with continuing encouragement and support, our friend believed that she could be the kind of person who could dip in the sea on New Year’s Day. And so she did. It has been the spur to many achievements and her potential keeps on expanding.
We’ve come a long way from scrambled eggs. What’s possible for you?
December 21, 2016
November 23, 2016
Connecting your inner voice to action
We can all have a vision but the key to transformation is acting to make that vision become a reality. Often our inner voice is quietened by feelings of impotence or fear when instead of a true source of strength the inner voice becomes a nagging sense of lost potential.
A powerful example of the positive connection from inner voice to Action is the UK charity, WellBoring, that grew from the decision made by two British engineers to fix a Kenyan school’s water problem. Big things can develop from starting small with the urge to make a difference. Since 2013 WellBoring has provided many water solutions that improve the lives of thousands of young Africans and strengthen their schools in Kenya and beyond.
May 3, 2016
Global Business Leader’s strapline is “Connecting the dots”. The work we run is all about connection, inner to outer and people to each other. We’ve recently re-designed our website to reflect this.
This is how we support leaders to connect the dots, our “Power of Ten”.
- inner voice to action
- mind to body and spirit
- intellect and technical expertise to emotional intelligence
- attention to intention and impact
- short to longer-term vision
- vision to purpose
- organisational values to behaviours
- people development to the needs of the business
- people and teams across functions, cultures and generations
- the head and the heart of the organisation to all of its stakeholders.
We know that when you connect the dots you maximise effort, minimise waste, create inspiration, break down silos, engage others and produce excellence.
At GBL we partner with our clients to co-create sustainable solutions.
Global Business Leaders connect the dots.