Post Conventional World Domination

In 2001 the largest five companies in the world by market capitalisation were GE, Microsoft, Exxon, Citi and Walmart. By 2011 they were Exxon, Apple, Petro China, Shell and ICBC (Bank of China). By 2016 they were Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.

What distinguishes GE, Exxon, Citi, Walmart, Petro China, ICBC and Shell from Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook is that the former could all be classed as conventional and the latter can all be classed as post-conventional.
So – what do we mean by conventional and post conventional? Essentially the differences comes down to outlook, leadership and culture.

Conventional businesses have typically had the same business model for most or all of their existence Their vision (such as it is) is to get good at delivering on that business model, to be able to do what they say they are going to do, reliably. Some even proudly state a vision of “being the worlds best or number one X”.

Conventional organisations have prioritised management and developed an obedient culture to keep cranking the handle. They may now be able to crank the handle remotely, over the internet, they may have outsourced cranking the handle to India or they may now crank the handle globally, but essentially cranking the handle is what they do.

In a conventional business where reliability is the ambition, management is the key skill, because management is all about reliability, and leadership is annoying, because leadership is about change and change is disruptive. Many conventional organisations actively discourage signs of leadership.

Post-conventional businesses change or augment their business model by disrupting other business models, typically by collapsing value chains. We can use Apple as an example of this – Apple invented the desk top computer and then disrupted it with the laptop, disrupted that with the smartphone/tablet and are now disrupting that with the watch. Along the way they have disrupted music, photography, video and more – in each case collapsing the value chain.

To understand value chain collapsing think about photography – before digital cameras the photography value chain included standalone cameras, film, film developers and printers, then there were also stand alone digital cameras. By including a good enough camera in a smart phone and then selling them to huge numbers of people the whole photography value chain was collapsed to a single multi function device.

What enables these businesses to do this is the way that they do leadership. Firstly they have a vision which is not about being the best at cranking their particular handle, but is about achieving something extraordinary and inspiring to all stakeholders. More important than that is the way that leadership is seen less as a person and more as a skill that large numbers of people need to be able to deploy alongside the skills of management and followership. People dance between the three so that when something needs to change the skill deployed is leadership, when something needs to be kept reliable the skill deployed is management and when someone else does something inspiring followership is deployed.

That leadership, management and followership is interdependent and authentic, meaning that there are high levels of psychological safety and trust and crucially vulnerability. Vulnerability is the essence of leadership because leadership requires us to take a position without knowing what the outcome will be. This is as true for the Wright brothers flying the first plane in 1902 as it is for any of us standing up for what we believe to be the right thing in the face of opposition or apathy. The feeling we have is vulnerability, when we choose to lean in to that vulnerability rather than running away, it is an act of leadership. When someone follows us it becomes leadership.

Without a combination of psychological safety and a willingness to be vulnerable, no one says what is really on their mind, no one shares their crazy ideas, no one does anything that no one has done before.

In post conventional organisations we must embrace the anarchist in as many of our people as possible. We must be able to recruit, retain and develop individuals we find a little bit annoying. We must nurture leadership wherever and however it appears and encourage it to align with our vision.

Conventional organisations find innovation so disruptive that they tend to isolate it, in its own special unit, quarantined from the rest of the organisation to prevent the anarchy from infecting others. Post conventional organisations have to find ways to be agile to marry reliability and disruption not just in the same organisation, but within individuals.
We must think like the Kung Fu master, always disciplined with our own habits and emotions always looking to improve ourselves, always encouraging discipline and brilliance in our colleagues.

For many conventional businesses the only alternative to self disruption is to be disrupted by others. The only consequence of exclusively managing reliability is that you are in fact managing decline.

It is also worth saying that post conventional organisations are also run by humans and, as such, they too are vulnerable to hubris and stealing from the future.  They too are vulnerable to ruler and boss style leadership and at the point at which they succumb to these temptations they too are managing decline.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

 

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Posted in authenticity, Business, Leadership | Leave a comment

Psychology and Sustained Success

There is a great deal written about how to create success, both for individuals, teams and organisations, but some of our experience suggests that success will come along quite easily if we can just avoid creating the circumstances for failure.

The first part of this is to acknowledge that we humans are emotional creatures.  It has long been fashionable to resist this particular insight, especially in work type situations, where “being professional” is taken to mean suppressing emotions.  Suppressing emotions is both unhealthy and unsuccessful as emotions will always leak out in some way.  As a result of this fashion not enough of us are skilled at either understanding or regulating our own emotions or adequately reading the emotions of others.

Emotions are our body’s way of communicating with our brain.  0.07 seconds after some stimulus our body is already reacting, producing hormones and sending messages to our heart and muscles.  It takes at least 0.5 seconds for our brain to catch up – sometimes much longer, or never.

When we play tennis or react to a situation while driving, we do much of it with “pre-conscious” skill, our body uses muscle memory to deal with the situation before our brain has even registered something is happening.

These same processes take place when we walk into a meeting and realise we are un-prepared or that someone is blaming us for a mistake.  Our body makes a decision about whether this is good or bad and floods our system with hormones accordingly – but not necessarily correctly.

This flood of hormones can then lead, after half a second, to a more conscious, if unintentional reaction.  Our brain gets triggered and the collaborative, interdependent, trusting and vulnerable version of ourselves gets replaced by the independent, suspicious, competitive version of ourselves, or in extreme cases the dependent victim version.

This triggering happens moment by moment.  In one conversation or meeting we can swing from interdependent to dependent and back again.  However, our observations of multiple organisations under stress suggest that it can also be infectious and affect a whole organisation for a prolonged period of time.

What can happen when stress arrives is that a number of senior people might react badly, becoming blaming others and protecting their own status.  Maybe they even sack people they believe to be the problem.  The triggering quickly rampages across the organisation with normally interdependent and collaborative people quickly becoming independent and feeling they need to fight for status in order to be safe, or becoming dependent and just waiting for instructions from someone in authority.

The solution to this is twofold; we have to become aware that this is what is happening and develop our own emotional literacy, then we have to introduce new more helpful habits of thought and behaviour to replace the unhelpful habits.

Overall we call this shift – Reaction to Response.

We cannot immediately change the way our body reacts to a situation, but we can cultivate the habit of taking the time to consciously interrogate the reaction in order to understand it and respond to it intentionally rather than unintentionally.

It works like this – the moment we notice that our body is reacting in a potentially unhelpful way to a situation we pause – at a minimum take a deep breath to oxygenate your brain and take some time to think.  If it is a stressful situation in a meeting – get or offer a glass of water, drop a pen, spill the water – anything that will buy your brain the time to catch up.  Focus your attention on the outcome you actually want to achieve longer term, rather than short term self defence.

If the situation is being caused by someone else being emotional with you – deal with the emotion first.  Rather than trying to use rational arguments to talk them down, work out what is upsetting or angering them and deal with that.  This is really challenging, our programming that we don’t do emotion at work is so strong that when someone does, we still try to deal with the situation rationally.

When we are trigged in this way we become a less mature version of ourselves, we become independent like a teenager, dependent like a child or selfish like a toddler.  If we want to de-escalate a situation where someone is triggered, we need to deal with them where they are without being patronising and we also need to avoid being triggered ourselves.  If they are triggered to being independent, we need to show that we are on the same side as them because they will see the world as being against them.  If they are triggered to being dependent we need to help them have the confidence that they can solve the problem.  If they are triggered to being selfish, we have to hold firm that other people matter.

One of the psychologies that often drives these dynamics is a bias known as “Fundamental Attribution Error”.  What this says is that we are far more likely to attribute errors in others, particularly those we are not close to, to character flaws than to circumstances.  In other words we tend to associate failures with who someone is rather than how they are.

When we combine this with our continuous vulnerability to being triggered, it is easy to understand how we can come to see someone, who is frequently triggered by the culture at work, as being a fundamentally selfish character.  Equally, if they notice us thinking that way, they are likely to see us as a fundamentally judgmental character.  The reality in both cases is that this is how we are, not who we are.

To tie all of this into organisational performance.  Organisations that enjoy sustained success are those where people are collaborative, creative, transparent and supportive – to the extent that they would challenge poor decisions or behaviour skillfully even if that meant challenging upwards.

In order to sustain that kind of culture leadership needs to role model those behaviours and intentionally create an environment with high levels of psychological safety.  This means receiving feedback and bad news well, supporting people even when you find them a bit annoying and working explicitly with people on “state awareness” and “emotional regulation”, so that people understand when they or others are triggered and know what to do about it.

As you may notice, this is a huge subject and distilling even a part of it down into 1000 words and still making it valuable is challenging.  Typically we would take all of a two day workshop to teach the ideas outlined above in a way that enables people to create new habits and deliver sustained success.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Culture is the engine of transformational change

At Holos our primary focus is on culture. We help organisations address the fundamental challenge: how do you intentionally create and curate the kind of culture that delivers sustained success in a disrupted environment. Our end game is authentic leadership, but just as important is how this is expressed through the brand – and how the brand informs the culture. 

The reality of any brand (regardless of the fevered aspirations of the marketing team) is how people experience the organisation. If I as a customer experience the automated phone system as complicated – that is the reality of the brand for me. If an employee experiences a chaotic organisation, that is the brand for them, and if employees experience chaos it is likely that customers will too, since you cannot create reliability externally, if you do not create it internally. 

So regardless of whether a platform is formed as an automated, dynamic and cutting edge brand, it is the lived experiences of that brand expression that defines the brand in its thousands of interactions with people, externally with customers, investors, suppliers, press, partners, and internally with leaders, managers, makers, sales people, HR, new hires. Even office dogs. 

At Holos we are privileged to have a diverse team to work with. Hanne Klintøe is one of our agents, who brings incredible experience and expertise from the exact cross-field between brand and culture. I have asked her to contribute to this post and dig further into how the two interloop – so here’s Hanne.

The cultural compass

To direct a fleet through a disrupted environment, you need a workable compass. You might think that is your strategy and firm leadership, but think again. Come storm, broken sails and high waters, nobody has time to read your strategy deck and they can’t see you through the waves. The only real go to is a strong culture striving towards purpose, constantly adjusting direction through the strong compass that is brand.

But hang on. What do we even *mean* by culture? On a societal level, we recognise culture in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the traditions we keep, the way we meet and the expression of it all through activities, art, media, language. 

Culture is the living expression of shared values and beliefs and it’s what you get wherever humans are brought together around a mission – any mission – whether you want it or not. It lives  through the feedback loop of action-reaction and how these iterations affect what we believe, value and connect with, and as such it develops continuously, through thousands of small manifestations and adjustments, every single day. 

Culture is brand activation

When then CEO Alan Mulally set out to save Ford during the 2008-10 automotive crisis, he faced an organisation riddled by fear. Losing a job at Ford meant unemployment. There were no other jobs to be had in the entire industry. The fear was real and created a culture of secrecy and rivalry, hiding system failures, short-comings and mistakes and tearing the organisation apart. 

Mulally’s solution was the vision ‘One Ford; One Team, One Plan, One Goal’. It revitalised the brand according to Henry Ford’s original vision of a people-centric organisation innovating for a better future for all. Somewhere along the way Ford had become disconnected, and Mulally developed the tool that would reconnect the company as one, and plug it right into actual customer needs. 

Through a meaningful, connected brand, Mulally could cultivate an open and supportive in-it-together culture of trust that would. to replace the closed, secretive culture of fear and rivalry. 

His first initiative was to open all management meetings by celebrating mistakes. One by one, managers would share problems or failures and their disclosure would be applauded. “Great! Now we know!” Then, as one team, they could act on it. The second was updating team-structures and launching 16 ‘expected employee behaviours’ supporting the vision, which were printed on the back of the company access cards. The vision was outlined on the front.

Typical expected behaviours included:

– Deal positively with business realities

– Set high expectations and inspire others

– Believe in skilled and motivated people working together

– Respect, listen to, help and appreciate others

What Alan Mulally did was not only to launch a new vision for the organisation, but also reconnect and revitalise the brand and activate it into a culture, that made sense and was supportive for all employees. It became ‘a Ford thing to do’ to help and appreciate others. To celebrate failures as a route to solutions. To believe in one another. So activating the brand into a culture of defined beliefs and behaviours, he unified and empowered his people throughout the organisation – and the crisis. 

A brand conveys meaning

You might still ask what exactly makes a brand so powerful. Can’t you just tell people how to behave? Er, no. That’s called dictatorship and cannot deliver sustained success. The value match between brand and individual is one element of the answer, but the real power of the brand is that it ties together all that your organisation does – from purpose to method and offer – into one conceptual expression, and as such serves as an applicable guide to “What the h*** am I doing here?”.

As humans we organise ourselves around meaning. Where there is none, we make it up, and group around ways to enhance it. Our brains are built to guide that behaviour. Always confirming what we believe, altering it to environment feedback. When we direct cultures through the compass of a brand, we enable meaning to collect around intentional parts; values, beliefs, purpose. ‘I’ becomes ‘we’ when work makes sense.

Translated into behaviours, organisational routines, meeting formats, team work styles, support mechanisms, expectations and celebrations, we can enhance the meaning, even when we have fun, chat with team mates or share a meal. The branded culture becomes a deliberate, agile, and completely coherent structure directing the living organism of your work place, even as it is renewed daily through thousands of interactions. 

What further raises the brand’s value as a compass for culture is that it is;

a) constant – when the world changes, the brand is reliable (building safety)

b) predictable – a codex for what to expect and how to behave (fostering connection)

c) human – using language and symbolism that resonates emotionally (enabling belonging).

So a branded culture can help fulfil the fundamental human needs for safety, connection and belonging in the work place, enhancing trust and openness, but also open up for self-expression and self-realisation in a match on values, beliefs and purpose, feeding both innovation, motivation and drive. 

Build a culture with intention

Culture is what makes your organisation come to life every day. You can use your brand to direct the organism it embodies and establish coherence, even through chaos. Or you can deal with a wild beast on a daily basis, not knowing where it’s heading or why. 

Culture leads your people, whether you want it or not, so build a culture with intention through authentic leadership and on the basis of your brand, and you have a living organism with a workable compass that will drive your mission with conviction every day, in all interactions. 

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

Posted in authenticity, Leadership | Leave a comment

Fit for change

In our book “Stealing from the future and how you can stop it” we discuss our observation that far the majority of people that we work with in businesses have the ability and intention to operate at an “interdependent” level. In other words most of us set out to collaborate, share, support colleagues, team members, clients and other stakeholders.

However, we also know that there are many examples of authoritarian and controlling line managers, unwilling and unhelpful colleagues, demanding and unreasonable customers and so on. In “Stealing from the future and how you can stop it” we explore the idea that much of this behaviour is not fundamental to those individuals, but caused by different kinds of stress that “trigger” us back to lower levels of maturity in our behaviour. When triggered, instead of being the best “interdependent” version of ourselves, we become a lesser version operating from:

An Independent level of maturity where we feel the need to compete with others
A Dependent level of maturity where we struggle to take the initiative
A Self level of maturity where self preservation is our only priority.

We have worked in organisations where the very act of walking into the office is enough to trigger a majority of colleagues to an Independent level and some to a Dependent. Once you have a large number of people operating at these levels trust and collective confidence are quickly eroded by people working Independently and failing to share information, failing to collaborate and even sabotaging colleagues or by people blocking activity by waiting for instructions and decisions and failing to take the initiative. The corporate effect of such a climate can be to drastically chill productivity, to increase stress and mental health issues and to lead to sickness and staff turnover. In other words these effects have a significant cost for organisations.

The causes vary, any sort of corporate crisis from poor results to accidents and simple change projects can cause mass triggering. The quality of leadership will play a very significant role leaders who are themselves triggered will deepen and prolong the problem. Leaders who are able to maintain an Interdependent level will diminish the problems and accelerate recovery.

An aspect of triggering that we did not cover in the book is the roles that physical wellbeing plays in enabling resilience. At Holos we are fortunate to work with a remarkable array of talented and experienced colleagues. One of our colleagues Theis Husfeldt has worked across these areas of physical wellness and leadership and team and organisational culture. He has tremendous experience of creating high performance in challenging environments, both in sport and business, so the next part of this post is written by Theis to explore how organisations and individuals can improve physical well being as a route to reduced triggering, increased resilience and enhanced performance.

I have worked for many years with individuals and teams in both high performance sport and business. My background is as a professional athlete for 20 years and more recently as a Physiotherapist, Coach and Business Leader have given me a lot of experience and knowledge in this field.

The aims have been to increase results, increase performance sometimes in sports and sometimes in sales. We have always worked to inspire and transform teams to work in a performance-culture, based on trust and collaboration, as well as working with the individual psychology helping people to be more conscious about themselves as well working with the social part of communicating well and listening.

In sports teams the physical dimensions of training are at the core. In sports the combination of physical and psychological strength are key determinants of performance. In business it is far less common to work with the physical side of performance, the general expectation appears to be that people will take care of their own physical well being and the organisation only needs to work with psychological and skills development. However as Neil mentions there is a strong correlation between low physical well-being, endurance and energy and our vulnerability to being triggered into a negative spiral. Conversely there is a great deal of evidence that we have more confidence, energy and endurance, higher stress tolerance, better listening skills, higher concentration and more positive mindset when we are fitter and healthier.

How much impact does the physical part have on our performance in business and what can we do about it?

Perhaps one of the most demanding environments any of us could work in is that of a Formula one team with 21 races in 2019, every one taking place at the weekend, many being a long haul flight away and always intensely competitive. Engineers, mechanics, strategists, project managers, sales and marketing, HR and all of the usual functions have to work under extreme pressure for extended periods of time and deal well with huge emotional swings from victory to accidents and injuries. F1 teams take physical wellbeing seriously for all staff not just drivers and pitcher, because they know that it makes a difference to performance.

In a more conventional environment Drew Stevens Ph.D., a business development consultant to the medical industry and the author of “Split Second Selling,” worked with a team of more than 300 workers to see if exercise would make a difference.

“Our professionals were mostly selling professionals and marketing managers that travel frequently, eat deplorably and work out when possible,” Stevens says. “We reviewed diet, nutrition and exercise programs. After six weeks on the program of proper nutrition and exercise, there was a 81 percent difference in performance.” He adds: “There was less dozing at meetings, better closing rates on sales calls and less customer service issues.”

Of course wellness works at both ends of the performance scale with fitness reducing the number of sick days. In studies in the Netherlands workers meeting the recommendation of vigorous physical activity (active at a vigorous level for at least three times a week) had significantly less sick leave: two thirds of one day over two months, and more than four days over a year. A Finnish study concluded that ideal sleep patterns could reduce sick days by up to 28%.

So there is real commercial value in enabling the health and wellbeing of employees.

The basics of wellbeing for performance would include:

Hydration: Simply drinking enough water and avoiding or managing diuretics such as tea, coffee.

Nutrition: An emphasis on green and fresh and avoiding processed foods and too much red meat, with a suitable balance of carbs, protein and fats.

Exercise: A regular routine of cardio (walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing) with strength (weights and body weight) and flexibility (yoga and stretching) work as well.

Sleep/rest: 7 to 8 hours sleep per night complemented by downtime and meditation or mindfulness.

For most of us exercise and diet are considered fairly personal choices, it is all very well for exotic destination jobs like F1 teams or for a short term trial to interfere with personal choices, but how might a regular employer influence employee behaviour?

Let’s look at three basic wellbeing nudges that employers can make:

Availability

Many employers already have drinking fountains and fruit bowls widely available and do a good deal to encourage hydration. Generally most office canteens have a good range of healthy meal options, although perhaps more unhealthy options than would be ideal. Exercise is harder, some employers have gyms, some have cycle to work schemes and suitable parking, changing and showering facilities – few make specific time available for exercise or encourage walking meetings. Some organisations have sleep or rest rooms, Google famously has well organised meditation training and communities.

Support

While simply making time available for wellness is probably the biggest step that many employers could make, technology also offers intriguing opportunities for support. Apps which help remind us and track hydration and nutrition could easily be made available to employees at scale, while devices such as fitness and sleep trackers and smart watches could also be made available. Sleep hypnosis apps can be as effective as sleeping pills and without the side effects for those who travel or struggle to get a good nights sleep. In the hyper competitive world of F1 some teams use gym time to help determine who gets to go to races and who does not. Some companies may wish to offer perks to those who take their health more seriously.

Culture

Humans are communal animals and we are highly influenced by the conversations and behaviours that surround us. If leaders (formal or otherwise) are seen to be doing and discussing things it will influence those around them. Ergo if leaders take their fitness and wellbeing seriously, it will encourage their team members, the converse is also true. Given all of the commercial benefits of healthy and well reseted employees, incentivising senior staff to take their health seriously is just good business.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

Posted in coaching and training, Fitnesss, Leadership | Leave a comment

5 Leadership Lessons from India

Wishing everyone sustained and sustainable success in 2019.

We had the great good fortune to be able to spend our New Year in India.  We chose India because we wanted our children (13 and 15) to appreciate that their life in the UK is not “normal”.  We flew to Delhi and then did the so called “Golden Triangle” via Agra and Jaipur back to Delhi with a stop in rural India to visit a game park and see tigers.

India is a fascinating and beautiful country, which is highly likely to become the dominant economy of the 21st century.  It has a population of around 1.3 billion with a median age of about 27 (Europe is over 40) and a 300 million strong middle class (larger than the whole population of the USA).  (see the Ageing chapter of Stealing from the future for more on this)  The people are hard working, resourceful and remarkably calm, they are also kind and helpful.  From my personal experience they value education more highly than any other country of the 35 plus I have worked in.

The palaces built over the last thousand years are more opulent than any of their contemporaries in Europe.  The visible poverty in both towns and villages today is extreme and distressing.  The air quality in the cities at this time of year is frightening, with pollution visible even indoors, but then it was only in the 1950s that Londoners had to contend with smog that killed thousands.

Religion is important and Hindus have over 30 million gods to choose from.  Perhaps because of their religion attitudes are very different to Europeans and it is particularly visible in the way they drive.

When driving it seems that there is a responsibility to ensure that every available bit of road is used, it is best if traffic always keeps moving at a steady pace and road markings are largely for decoration.  Overtaking is done whenever and wherever and oncoming traffic accommodates it.  If you only have a short distance to travel it is OK to go on the wrong side of the road, especially if there is a solid central barrier in the road.  Road users appear unperturbed by cutting in.  Hooting is essential, in a friendly just letting people know you are there kind of way.   Remarkably it seems to work fairly well most of the time and that is more down to the tolerant, live and let live attitude than to rules or driving skill.

To the leadership lessons…

Lesson 1 – Rulers need to show their wealth

We appear to be very vulnerable to manipulation by extreme displays of wealth.  The Mughal Emperors (Muslim kings descended from Genghis Khan and the Mongolian rulers of Persia) and the Maharajas (Hindu kings of regions of India) built fabulous palaces which ostentatiously displayed their wealth and power.   The common response to these wildly excessive disparities of wealth is to either subordinate to it, ally with it or occasionally to be inspired by it.  What rarely appears to have happened in India or elsewhere is, what might be a more rational response, which is to collaborate with the masses to negotiate a fairer share of the wealth.

The lesson is perhaps to believe in ourselves more.  We don’t need rich and powerful patrons to create sustained success for ourselves, in fact on the whole they are only interested in their own success, not ours.  Rather than supporting Rulers and Bosses who only care about themselves we should support Integral and Authentic leaders who care about our shared future.

Lesson 2 – There is beauty in acceptance

To a European visitor India feels chaotic, noisy and intense.  For the locals it is normal, but they also appear to be unfazed by it.  There is a Buddhist saying (Buddhism and Hinduism are closely related) “If you can do something about it, why worry? If you cannot do anything about it, why worry?  This balance of fatalism and resourcefulness is deeply ingrained in the Indian psyche.

The lesson is to accept the things you cannot change with good grace and at the same time to be resourceful, determined and creative about changing the things that need to be changed and can be.

Lesson 3 – Populism is popular and short term

We didn’t seek to discuss politics while we were there, but the conversations seemed to happen anyway.  India has a somewhat populist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several people we spoke to were supportive of Modi citing his anti corruption and infrastructure focus as being positive for India.  Another person we spoke to said that the focus on infrastructure was very much at the expense of the environment, wildlife and climate.

The lesson is that effective leadership of an organisation or countries is badly compromised if it is evaluated on the basis of short term popularity with any stakeholder group (this is a real challenge for democracy).  Leaders have to find a way to ‘sell’ a sustainable long term vision, even if it requires some unpopular compromises to get there.  The great challenge of being an Integral leader is garnering sufficient short term support to deliver the value that is almost always in the longer term.

Lesson 4 – Hubris leads to nemesis

Starting in 1911 the British moved the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi and built New Delhi as a planned city, adjacent to Old Delhi and designed by Edwin Lutyens.  New Delhi is almost a 1930s version of Milton Keynes – all wide avenues and roundabouts.   Vast government offices (see lesson 1 above), parliament and the Viceroy’s palace were the centrepiece of New Delhi.  British rule in India lasted for only another 16 years before independence.  Independence was in no small part influenced by the Integral leadership of Gandhi.

The lesson is there are great risks in believing your own propaganda, as leaders we must find the skill to appreciate even critical feedback and also to examine all of our decisions, not just for their potential outcomes, but also for the motivation that lies behind them.

Lesson 5 – Many gods

In contrast to monotheistic religions Hinduism is extremely diverse and appears to tolerate a very individual approach to which god or gods if any a Hindu worships.  Hinduism is a set of ethical principles and lifestyle choices designed to create a life that is positive for the individual and the community.

The lesson here is that as an Integral leader we need to honour a broad range of stakeholders and understand their different perspectives and priorities.  There are the normal stakeholders of customers, employees, shareholders etc and there are less culturally accepted stakeholders like “the future” and “the environment”.  We need to do our best to serve the interests of all of these stakeholders medium to long term interests and avoid being sucked in to focussing excessively on a minority of them or on the short term.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

Posted in Leadership, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Christmas from Holos

Please follow the link to find our Holos Christmas card, wishing all of you a very happy and easy Christmas this year.

Print, cut out, share and ask – #christmasiseasy

Happy Christmas 2018

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stealing fro the future – extract

The print copies of the book arrived today and it looks fantastic.  Very exciting.  Here is a brief extract from the book and below are links to the paperback, ebook and the launch livestream.

Exercising Leadership

The very instant we decide to take responsibility for some sort of change, and someone chooses to follow, or is influenced by us, we are leading.  We have all done this at some point in our lives, at least during a childhood game.  When we do it repeatedly, on an increasing scale and with some wider strategic intent, we are developing our leadership.

Just because you show leadership, you may not be ‘a leader’.  And even when you have the hierarchical responsibility, you can and should switch roles to manage, follow, learn or be a team player when relevant.  What makes leadership behaviour consistent is a disciplined focus on standards in the pursuit of a shared Cause (the vision, purpose and mission we are pursuing) and Conditions (the values, behaviours and habits required to achieve the Cause, more on this later).

There is an almost universal challenge in the way organisations appoint ‘leaders’.  In most organisations, management and leadership are the only routes to promotion.  It is exceptional to offer a pure expert route, where people can be promoted for their technical skill without having oversight of and responsibility for other people.  Universities, some manufacturing, and a small number of engineering businesses promote experts, but it is unusual.  In addition, expert routes rarely offer equivalent remuneration and status to leadership routes.  Yet our organisations habitually intertwine expertise with leadership.

In business people are generally promoted because they become expert at something, like design or accounting.  Once expert enough, that individual is promoted to lead teams of designers or accountants.  So far so good.  But deep in our limbic brain we need to feel a sense of self-worth and inclusion.  So when our role requires an expertise we don’t really have, such as leadership, and we are poorly supported to learn and develop, we tend to retreat and spend our time on the expertise that got us promoted; the design or accountancy skills that give us that sense of self-worth.  As a result, leadership activity is pushed to the side of our desk and we typically feel very stretched, and risk micromanaging the expertise and under-performing on leadership.

Leadership is full-time work and a skill that needs to be built into expertise.  

“What got you here, won’t get you there.”
Marshall Goldsmith

There is a crucial mantra at the heart of leadership: “everything that can be delegated, must be”.  This means that we have to delegate the expert activity that previously gave us our sense of self-worth and focus on an activity that initially fills us with self-doubt.  If we seek to lead, we must invest all the time we can in learning and practising the art of leadership.  No construction firm would ask a team of obstetricians to build a suspension bridge, and yet we ask financial experts, or subsea engineers, or visual merchandisers to become leaders all the time.  Thinking of the supertanker, this is a little like asking the helm, who is used to steering the ship by pressing buttons and programming course corrections into a computer, to suddenly steer a 32-foot yacht by handling a wooden tiller.  In organisations, the ‘captains’ who promote people into leadership are regularly asking for this degree of behaviour change from managers and experts.

These principles were at the heart of one of our coaching assignments with a technology leader at a universal bank.  The leader had proven himself a great technical strategist and accordingly had been promoted to head a very large department of technologists and coders during a time of radical change.  He was ambitious, but inexperienced in leadership.  His personal values didn’t allow him to mimic the culturally common Boss-type leadership he saw around him.  As a result, he was taking on far too much work, trying to lead the department and create the technical strategies himself.

The first step was for him to delegate, decline and defer work, in order to create the psychological and emotional bandwidth to lead.  With the space he created he was then able to define himself differently and accept the accountabilities of his leadership.  

One of the very few institutions in our society to take leadership seriously is the military.  In the military, leadership is trained and practiced from a young age and throughout your career, with a focus on the qualities and disciplines needed to maintain sight of the bigger picture and build the respect of followers.  As a military leader’s Reach gets wider, skillsets are developed in tandem with Perspective, using a continuous education approach involving Staff College or special-to-arm training at different career stages.  Motivation is rarely addressed directly, although service is a fundamental to military leadership, with everyday maxims like ‘Leaders eat last’, and ‘Serve to Lead’ underpinning the theory that leadership activity is driven by purpose and not status.

As a military officer, at 21 years old, Mark was responsible for a Troop of soldiers (Troop is Royal Artillery nomenclature for a Platoon) on active service.  Many of the soldiers were older men who had been on active service two, three and four times before.  Mark’s youth and inexperience counted against him, but his leadership position was not at issue because he showed essential competence plus an ability to listen to the wider experience around him in order to make better decisions.  On active service, decision-making is always contextual and situational.  For Mark, effective leadership meant he did not need to be the best soldier, but he did need to be agile at understanding the big picture, co-ordinating ideas, and re-shaping tactics in service to the vision.

Mark was taught to appreciate any given situation and problem-solve from that place.  Often his were not the ideas implemented, and some of his decisions were wrong.  Sometimes discussion was possible and sometimes command decisions had to be made quickly and alone.  However, his general approach of listening and examining experience created a depth in relationships, so that when diktat was necessary, or the decision proved wrong, there was still willingness to move, follow and operate.  Boss-style leaders would likely have felt it incumbent upon them to (appear to) know everything, becoming the fount of all control.  Young officers of that style failed frequently and were left by all to hang in the wind, cheeks burning.  In the words of Mark’s sergeant major, “Sir, there’s a reason why the blokes listen to you.  It’s because you listen to them.”

Unlike the military, organisations tend to expect experts to succeed in leadership simply because they are the best in accounting or design.  If you are the best expert, they seem to believe, you are ready to lead others in that expertise.   

There is very little evidence that this approach works.

Buy the paperback

Buy the e-book

Join the launch livestream

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment