Blog

April 16, 2018

Promises, Promises

Leadership / Organisational Culture

 

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.

May 3, 2016

Connecting the dots…

Organisational Culture / Values

bubbles

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”.
We connect

  1. bubblesinner voice to action
  2. mind to body and spirit
  3. intellect and technical expertise to emotional intelligence
  4. attention to intention and impact
  5. short to longer-term vision
  6. vision to purpose
  7. organisational values to behaviours
  8. people development to the needs of the business
  9. people and teams across functions, cultures and generations
  10. 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.

Helen Battersby

March 4, 2016

It’s not about being nice

Leadership / Organisational Culture / Self-Leadership

eMerge headerA month after we’d covered a module on “The Manager as Coach” one of the participants was feeding back on the impact his new skills were having in his team. He ruefully admitted that he’d become acutely aware of how he’d been doing the work of one particular team member. The team member would say he was stuck to which the manager would say “give it here” and, in this case, mostly write the proposal for him.

His learning from the coaching course had been that coaching is not just a way of being “nice” but of getting accountability. So instead of just taking on the work he began to ask questions: “where’s the problem?” and that question lead to other questions: “what have you done so far?” “how have you tackled similar problems before?” etc. The manager said it was a struggle to change a long-standing dynamic but he’d fundamentally changed his own view that coaching was too long-winded and a luxury – he realised that solving his team’s problems for them had created a tendency for his team to lean on him and that made him, and them, less effective. Default problem-solving mode had somehow kept the team static.

Coaching is about connecting people with their resourcefulness and about developing that resourcefulness with every interaction. Rather than fixing one problem you multiply the ability to deal with many as you leverage learning through questions, action and feedback. The question, “what will you do differently next time?” gives us all a chance to become smarter, repeat what’s worked well and avoid what hasn’t.

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February 4, 2016

The Bigger Picture of Connection

Organisational Culture / Self-Leadership
Connection

The Bigger Picture

What if greater connection is in part the answer to greater complexity?  Watching a programme on the infinite possibilities of life in the universe, there was one of those telescoping out shots that zoomed from a recognisable bit of the earth ever outwards into an expanding, seemingly boundless universe. You’d think that this vertiginous journey from known to unknown, finite to infinite would make you feel small and insignificant, but for me it had the opposite effect.  I could see that I was part of something really big, complex, beyond my understanding, and I thought why worry? My anxieties are part of my small world and my small self. In a way, these anxieties are what really undermine me.

From time to time, I will consciously expand my perceptions outwards to feel connected to something that is so much bigger than me but of which I am still a part.  It seems in organisations, we need to do the same thing. Connection with a big “C”. Meaning something beyond the immediacy of what we are doing to knowing what it’s all for. The more connected to a bigger purpose, the more engaged a work force. Think of that cleaner in NASA who told the visiting JFK he wasn’t cleaning a room, no, he was helping to put a man on the moon.

What does it take to pass on and obtain that sense of connection to something bigger than you, the team, or the organisation? And isn’t this the part of the puzzle we each need to find in order to have a sustainable business in the 21st century? What if your acknowledged stakeholder network included not just the shareholders, the clients and the staff but also suppliers and the surrounding community? What would that do to drive engagement, resilience, understanding, knowledge, performance and ultimately results?

Seeing the bigger picture of our connections may help us manage greater complexity!

Helen Battersby

October 21, 2015

Transformation – really?

Leadership / Organisational Culture / Self-Leadership

free-butterfly-icon-downloadTransformation is everywhere! In personal development literature, transformative programmes abound- the inference being you may turn up a caterpillar but once you’ve done the course, old skin, will be left dry and inert while a brand new you flutters off into the distance.

Faced with such lofty promises skeptics roll their eyes with weary stoicism at being sent on yet another transformational course. The phrase seems to set itself up for over-promising and under delivery. So used are we to tripping over this miracle-packed word that it can also be discounted or un-noticed. As we go into that transformational leadership course our expectations are muted and measured. The subtext seems to be “transformation” is just the language that goes with the territory- don’t worry, change is not necessarily forthcoming.

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May 23, 2015

Reinventing Your Organization

Organisational Culture

beehive picThinking about how to reinvent your organization?  Frederic Laloux’s book “Reinventing Organizations” is rapidly gaining critical acclaim as an in-depth commentary on how radically soulful, pioneering organizations are beginning to emerge all across the planet. In this ground-breaking work he outlines the three major breakthroughs shared by these organizations: self-management, striving for wholeness, and listening to evolutionary purpose.

One of the organizations that Frederic researched was Dutch healthcare non-profit Buurtzorg. Founded in 2006 by Jos de Blok and a team of 4 nurses as a new nursing care delivery model, Buurtzorg has become the largest neighbourhood nursing organization in the Netherlands, with over 9,000 employees. There is no management structure and a head office with just 40 people. The results are: highest quality, lowest cost and best employer of the Netherlands.

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March 4, 2015

What happened to your other half?

Organisational Culture

Other halfMy husband replied to a party invitation that he couldn’t go, he’s moving to Qatar.  But maybe Anne can?  That’s great I think and reply myself that yes please, I would love to come.  And by the way we are not separated, well yes we are going to be living separate lives, but we are still together, just not in the same country. For a while, for longer. Who knows. The first weeks are not at all easy.  I’m busy, I miss him.  He misses me more – he has all the time in the world when he’s finished work in a new place without family and friends. We share our lives now virtually.  I take him along in my handbag to evening meals with friends. When they ask “how’s your other half doing?” I prop up my iPad on the table and say “ask him yourself”. The virtual marriage. How odd. (more…)

November 10, 2014

Cultural Toxicity and Resilient Organisations

Organisational Culture

stock-photos-death-hazard-grunge-sign-acute-toxicity-conformity-edited-style-image34331343I was surprised to learn how lead poisons the body not just by its active toxins but also because it takes the place of the nutrients that are critical to life such as zinc, iron and calcium.  It got me thinking that for something to be toxic it wasn’t just the active noxious elements you had to watch out for but for the life-giving staples it supplants causing the organism to fail.

There has been much talk over these recession-hit years of toxic cultures and the noxious additives that brought the western world to the edge of bankruptcy. We tend to think of leaders who enabled short-termism, greed and self-interest to become acceptable cornerstones of doing business. Perhaps you’ve experienced the resultant behaviours, including meeting targets at the expense of the customer, circumventing regulations to suit particular interests, dividing and ruling staff, etc. (more…)