The Opposite of obedience and the source of safety and success

Last week I wrote about the dangers of obedience in organisations, this week I will write about the alternative, both for organisations and education.

The opposite of obedience is not disobedience or anarchy.  It is thinking and empowerment.  Obedience shuts down thinking.

The question is what are organisations for?  (I will come to what is school for later.)

If the answer is to enable people to collaborate in achieving something, then we can already see that the answer has to be around alignment and initiative taking rather than obedience.  It also implies that identifying and specifying the “something” is important.

At Holos we call that something “Cause”, the combination of vision, mission and purpose.  I defined each of these here.   Of these vision is the most important and usually the most difficult to either understand or articulate.  Visionaries are rare because effective visioning is difficult.  Teams we work with have to work very hard to come up with a suitable vision.

The vision has to align and inspire all of the key stakeholders and it also has to be beyond what we already know how to achieve, otherwise it is just an objective.

It is typically organisations without an articulated cause that rely most on obedience.

However cause and alignment alone are not enough to ensure the kind of focussed collaboration that leads to sustained success.  Which is why at Holos we also talk about “Code”.  Code is the combination of values, behaviours and habits.  It is an articulation of the culture that will be most effective in achieving the cause.

The whole concept of organisational values has, ironically, be devalued.  Too often,  organisations use them as a marketing sticking plaster rather than an intentional cultural design which requires everyone, including the most senior people, to actually change habits and behaviours.

Values are important.  Just reflect for a moment on a time when you have been in an environment that was contrary to your values or where you have broken one of your own values.  The experience is shaming and unpleasant.  People rarely last long in jobs that are counter to their own values.

When we articulate values, we also define the behaviours and habits that need to change for the code to be truly lived.  These are not rules to be obeyed, but a code to be embodied, particularly by the most senior people in the organisation.

Once articulated we use convenient tools (an app) to measure adherence to the code and develop the skills that enable people to support each other in creating and curating the intended culture.  For it to be a cultural dynamic, everyone in the culture has to be capable of skillfully challenging behaviour that is counter-cultural.

British people sometimes refer to the “Blitz spirit”as a time when the British were at their best.  This was a time when Britan as a whole had a shared cause and code.  When the vast majority of people were aligned in pursuit of the same cause and were the code was embodied by most.  Crisis can have this galvanising effect and many businesses

Crisis can have this galvanising effect and I have often heard people say that their organisation is best in a crisis. But I think most of us would rather achieve success, in some form, than just survival.  The role of leadership is to ensure that a cause and code that is just as inspiring, just as galvanising is both articulated and integrated, this is what leads to sustained success.  Obedience is irrelevant to organisations with a cause and code to which people are aligned.

For this to work in adult organisations we will usually have to deprogramme the deeply embedded tendency of those who have been successful in school to obey.  Or find ways to embrace a more diverse selection of educational outcomes.  Or find a way to create a more rounded education.

A recent survey suggested that most parents are more concerned about grades than their childrens happness at school.  In recent conversation I had with the CEO of a youth charity, she was clear that one of the greatest concerns of teenagers is mental health.

This brings us back to the first question.  What is education for?

As I discovered when writing my first book  our education system was designed to create obedience in the 1902 education act, which Britain then exported around the world.  We have moved on somewhat since then, but we still teach a bizarre array of subjects, not all of which are obviously linked to lifelong success or happiness.

A different cause and code for education as a whole, might be able to inspire and align students with learning fascinating, valuable and useful stuff that could lead to sustained success (in their own terms) and a happy and healthy life.

Finland has what is widely regarded as the most successful education system in the world. It is a system based on a cause of – sustained economic success for the nation and a code (read the linked article for more).

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

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

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

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Obedience is dangerous for organisations

Most of us accept, to a large extent, the indoctrination of obedience that we receive in our youth.  Parents and teachers combine to teach us that doing what we are told is right and good and rewarded and failing to do what we are told is bad and wrong and will be punished.

Corporations and large organisations typically recruit people who were successful at school.  The key characteristics that successful students take from school are obedience and an unwillingness to challenge the teacher.

As a parent, there is no doubt that obedience is much prized as a behaviour at home and many businesses reinforce cultures of obedience and compliance.

But how much obedience is a good thing and what are the risks of obedience in organisations?

When the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA) created their Simple Sabotage Field Manual they devoted a whole section (11) to organisational sabotage and most of it revolves around the diligent application of the rules.

Norman Dixon’s classic “On the psychology of military incompetence” uses the narrative of British military disasters to come to the conclusion that if you promote people for their willingness to do what they are told, when they get to the top they won’t have any idea what to do.

Bill George, author of Authentic Leadership, True North and former CEO of Medtronic gives an example of an executive recommending an individual for promotion because they had done “everything we told him to do”.  Bill replied – “it’s about he worked out what to do for himself.”

When we at Holos are analysing organisational cultures for systemic risk, there is no doubt that the single most significant indicator of the likely hood of a major crisis is an unwillingness to challenge colleagues, line managers or processes.

There are three fundamental risks of excessive obedience in organisations:

1 – Catastrophe:  Too big a word?  Think about situations like VW emissions scandal, Banks and Subprime/Libor/PPI/Credit default swaps, marine accidents like Costa Concordia, Titanic, Exxon Valdez, corruption scandals like Olympus or Enron to name a few.

The key factor in poor decisions or behaviour turning into catastrophes is the unwillingness or ineffectiveness of whistleblowers or people speaking up against it.  As a society we are equivocal about speaking up (look at the treatment of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange), but the evidence is clear:

If we want to minimise the risks of catastrophic failure we have to enthusiastically encourage and enable people at all levels of the organisation to challenge the ways that things are being done.  And given that most of the people we employ in large organisations are there because of their predisposition to not challenge, we must actively create a culture where challenge is both easy and valued.

2 – Irrelevance:  Slightly less dramatic than “catastrophe”, but no less terminal for organisations like Kodak and Blockbuster.  Disruption is happening faster and faster to more and more industries, particularly due to the megatrends of digitisation and decarbonisation.

Virtually every sector that is not actively disrupting is being disrupted.  The combination of renewable energy, battery storage, artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain, virtual reality, robotics and general increases in computing power and connectivity mean that science fiction is available on Amazon tomorrow.  By 2020 the oil industry, might be more worried by virtual reality and telepresence than they are now by electric cars, buses and trucks (which they are currently trying to ignore).  Most individuals in the sectors that are currently at the greatest threat from disruption are not even aware of the threat.  In a recent innovation session with a major bank not a single middle-level person had heard of any of the four new mobile-only banks.  By 2020 the oil industry, might be more worried by virtual reality and telepresence than they are now by electric cars, buses and trucks (which they are currently trying to ignore).

Most individuals in the sectors that are currently at greatest threat from disruption are not even aware of the threat; in a recent innovation session with a major bank not a single middle-level person had heard of any of the four new mobile-only banks in the UK.  The reason for this is they are discouraged from taking responsibility or initiative and encouraged to wait to be told what to do.  In the fast moving world we are in this is commecial suicide.

3 – Bottlenecks: Clearly not as terminal as “catastrophe” or “irrelevance” but hugely damaging none the less.  When people are waiting for instructions the line manager immediately becomes a bottleneck to initiative and progress.  I sometimes play a game called “Leadership football” with teams. One “half” (of three) is played with two non playing team managers.  None of the players are allowed to do anything without an explicit and specific instruction from their manager.

Predictably the game is very slow as the manager struggles and fails to maintain a sufficient information flow.  What is less predictable is who they choose to instruct, typically those they know best.  Anyone whose name is not immediately familiar to the manager gets very little of the action – does that sound familiar at all?

Summary: The British Army learned these lessons at a cataclysmic cost of human lives in the Battle of the Somme.  It was then, 100 years ago that they started the shift away from obedience and towards what they now call Mission Command (ironically the based on the system that they Germans had been using for over 100 years already).

Mission Command is based on the idea that objectives are set and it is up to those tasked with achieving them to work out the best way to do it.  Objectives are tiered down from the top so that all sub-objectives combine to support the overall objective.

In a similar way, Holos works with Cause – a combination of vision, mission and purpose.  We align leadership and around their Cause and then encourage each level of the organisation below to contribute their own bit towards that Cause with a maximum of support and listening from the leadership a minimum of micro-management.

The result of this is that leadership bandwidth gets freed up to think strategically and far more gets achieved more quickly – catastrophe, irrelevance and bottlenecks are all avoided.

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 www.holoschange.com

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

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

Posted in Business, innovation, Leadership, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is the truth?

In an environment where the lies of some politicians and media appear to be effective strategies, it seems to be a good time to explore what we mean or understand by concepts such as truth, honesty and trust.

At it’s most basic there are situations where we have a choice between telling the truth and lying. Lying is essentially a short term strategy, while truth can be seen as a longer term strategy.  However, if you are able to achieve your aims and move on from a situation lying can appear to be successful.

I tend to think of honesty as a skill, which we can get better at with practice and when we are skilful in our communication the truth is extremely valuable and powerful.  This is a skill some of us fail to learn. For a few the skill that they learn is how to persuade through lying.

For the rest of us, perhaps the most useful thing is to learn how to tell the truth skilfully and how to deal with lies.

Honesty as a skill.

The first thing to recognise is that much of the truth is subjective.  This means that there will often be multiple legitimate perspectives on any situation and understanding the boundary between what is subjectively true and what is subjectively untrue can be a question of perspective or differences between values.  Just because we disagree with someone does not make them a liar.

Occasionally there can be an objective truth where there is no conflicting data and where facts are clear and we can say that this is the only possible version of the truth.  More often there is conflicting data and we are then likely to choose the data that suits our world view.

Being honest is an exercise is constant self analysis, to calibrate our observations against our emotions and express our views more as questions or explorations than as statements. Where those views might upset another or incriminate ourselves, our challenge is to balance complete honesty with positive outcomes.  The first person we have to be honest with, is ourselves, for some the challenge is about being objective enough regarding our strengths, for others it is about being objective enough about our weaknesses.

To do this sensitive conversations need to be rehearsed in our heads or with a third party who can help us to find the right phrase or expression.  The language we use, the specific words, the order they are in and the intonation are incredibly important.  Like any skill the more we practice it the better we get at it.

So while honesty is a skill it is also a discipline that we can choose to hold ourselves to.  Most of the benefits of rigorous honesty accrue in terms of our own self image and self perception.  The experience of transgressing our own values are feelings of shame, which erode our sense of self worth.  The experience of overcoming a values challenge and supporting our values gives us pride and increases our confidence and our sense of self worth.

Spotting the lies

Most people lie out of habit more than malice.  It is almost reflexive, like a naughty child caught with their hand in the sweetie jar.  It is so common many people assume that everyone else lies with the same degree of conscience, and therefore it is OK (a rationalisation intended to protect self image).   I am sometimes amazed by the casualness with which some people appear to adjust the truth – even when the truth would not appear to be challenging to tell.

Spotting these lies is easy when the statements don’t match your own observations, but harder when you have no observations for evidence.  For these individuals it is just about calibration and knowing how much to trust them and what with.  Just knowing how much and where to trust someone allows us to adjust our own behaviours to allow for their habits.  We seldom need to call these people on their honesty and doing so can easily break a social relationship.

For closer relationships or where it becomes important to use the honesty skills above to help someone to recognise and adjust their habits, in their relationship with you, without blaming or offending them.

Some people lie much more strategically and on a far larger scale.  Deliberately misrepresenting facts and reinterpreting events to suit their intentions.  Lying on this level requires a built in level of self worth and regarding others as lacking worth, merely as pawns to the liars ambition.  This world view can be described on a scale from egotistical through narcissism to psychopathy.

These individuals perceive everyone else as being engaged in the same dog eat dog competition, a brutally Darwinian interpretation of society.  Either being honest is not one of their values, so they experience no shame when they are caught out or they have a facility to rationalise any situation entirely subjectively and in their own interests.

Dealing with these individuals in any balanced way is extremely difficult, so most of us are best off avoiding them as much as possible and we must certainly take responsibility for separately validating any claims before we act on them.

Of course there is a wide spectrum between these extremes.  What is common is that all of us, no matter how honest or dishonest, are motivated by feelings of self worth.  Those with honesty as a strong value will find it hard and uncomfortable to be dishonest.  Those without honesty as a strong value can find it harder to be honest.

In the end it is not so much about spotting the lies as understanding the individual.  As long as we can work out with reasonable accuracy how honest people are, we can trust them to be that honest and work with that.  This is not about being judgemental, it is just about understanding those around us and setting our own expectations accordingly.

Perhaps the most useful approach to calibrating is noticing the extent and quality of listening.  High quality listening is usually a sign that someone cares about others and cares about how they think and what they feel and believe.  People who care about others are more likely to rate honesty more highly as a value.  Within this there are also highly skilled deceivers who do listen and use the information they glean to manipulate, but this level of lying is unusual.

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 www.holoschange.com

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

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

 

Posted in authenticity, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to save a team, an organisation (or a nation?)

At Holos we do a lot of work with teams and organisations that are in trouble.  While there may be direct causes for the challenges they are facing the underlying cause is always cultural.

A culture that is carelessly (or maliciously) curated can quickly become divided.

A horizontally divided culture, divided by lines of hierarchy increases it’s systemic risk because those closest to the action become less likely to raise concerns and those furthest from the action become less likely to listen.  Most of the corporate failures you could name  are due to horizontally divided culture.

A vertically divided culture is one where cliques form pursuing different objectives and different futures.  The British political system (and Britain itself) is currently vertically divided.  The failures caused by vertical division are usually less sudden, but no less cataclysmic that those caused by horizontal division.

These divisions can happen at at any scale – team, business, corporation or nation.  And at any level of granularity from schisms to factions.  Where both horizontal and vertical division exists cliques and individualism with be the defining features.

In responding to these crises the first thing to remember is that when a group of us humans get together we will always and quickly form a culture.  That culture will be disproportionately defined by the dominant characters in the group – the leaders, formal or informal.

If a group has an intention to achieve anything in particular they will need to align around that future in order to achieve it.  If they want to achieve it with any sort of efficiency they will need to agree some sort of operating protocol for how they behave and take decisions.

At Holos we refer to these two foundational organisational conditions as “Cause” and “Code”.

Cause combines the elements of:

  • Vision – that which we truly want to achieve (a vision is not the same as an objective.  An objective is something we know how to achieve, a vision is beyond what we know how to achieve.)
  • Purpose – the deep and underlying “why” achieving our vision is important to us as a team.
  • Mission – the tools, equipment, skills, financial resources, scale and general wherewithal we need to have or get in order to achieve the vision and deliver on the purpose.

Code is the granular articulation of the “target culture” or habits of behaviour that the team agrees to and aspires to.  The Code is the standard of behaviour that every member holds themselves and each other accountable to.

A good Code is articulated to a significant level of granularity, describing the agreed behavioural standards.  A Code might include any relevant area of behaviour, for example standards of:

  • Punctuality
  • Decision making
  • Communication
  • Meeting management
  • Discipline

A good example of a Code is the Netflix Culture Deck.

NB: In a team within a wider organisation the team Cause and Code will usually need to be in service to and complimentary to the wider organisational Cause and Code.

In working with an organisation or team that is in crisis or is just failing to reach it’s potential, we will first seek to diagnose the cultural issues that are at play.  To understand the type of division at play and the qualities of the leadership.

Typically we then work with both the leadership and the team to articulate a shared Cause and Code and to upgrade the leadership so that they can more effectively curate the culture going forwards.

In order for this work to make a difference team members and especially leaders need to change their habits of behaviour.  Once the ground work is done we work in an “applied” way with the team and the leadership to help them turn their aspirations into habits.

As we all know holding ourselves to our own behavioural aspirations can be challenging, especially in adversity or when we are not feeling good.  We work closely with teams to make the embodiment of new habits as easy as possible and to iterate the code.

Aligning the culture releases previously unimaginable creativity and energy, much of which was previously being wasted in division.  This creativity and energy now has a clear outlet in the pursuit of the Cause.

If we want what was once the United Kingdom to achieve any semblance of it’s former energy and creativity we need some sort of vision that most of us can align around.  Perhaps a vision of a society that is inclusive, safe and enriching for all of it’s participants?

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 www.holoschange.com

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

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

Posted in Leadership, society | 2 Comments

What now?

Perhaps what the Brexit vote and the continued contortions around the western world  demonstrate above all else, is that it is time for change.

When inequalities of power, wealth and opportunity grow too great tensions are created.  When those tensions are not alleviated, they will eventually release in unpredictable ways.

Frustrated, angry people, become vulnerable to the manipulation of demagogues and agitators.  In Britain newspapers, The Daily Express, The Sun, The Daily Mail and Nigel Farage have been the agitators in chief.  Drip feeding an anti EU, anti immigrant narrative for years.

This toxic narrative has gone unchecked by successive politicians for whom it provided a convenient scapegoat for their own failings.  We cannot just blame politicians, we have collectively failed to adequately counter this narrative by articulating the enormous value that both the EU and immigrants bring with the same energy as the agitators.

But the real tragedy is that the true cause of the tensions remains untouched, unchanged.  “Austerity” has blighted the lives of millions and the opportunity gap has continued to grow.

We have to change the narrative.  A flourishing economy is the outcome of a flourishing society and a flourishing ecosystem – not the other way around.

Anything else is stealing from the future.  Sure you can show impressive economic results for a time by under investing in education, under investing in infrastructure and externalising costs to the population and the environment. But the day will come when you have to pay it back.

Sustainability is not a choice, it is inevitable.  The less sustainable you are today the greater the consequences for tomorrow.

It is not the economy, stupid.  It’s society and ecosystem.

Bhutan (a small country in the Himalayas) uses Gross National Happiness as a key government performance metric.  They are also the only carbon negative country in the world.

A flourishing economy is the result of a flourishing society and environment – not the cause.

It is clear that few of our present generation of politicians think this way and still less of our media.

It is clear that delegating our own responsibility for the governance and future of our countries and planet is no longer sufficient.

We must become more involved.

Complaining on Facebook or ranting among your friends is not being involved it is spectating.

Join or form a political party.  Join or form a lobbying group.  Get involved – that is the message of the referendum.

Alongside all of this we have to upgrade our leadership skills so that there are many, many more people willing to make the choice to lead and with the skills to do so.

Since we set Holos up our vision has been “Ubiquitous Authentic Leadership”.

We are interested in setting up a leadership academy aimed specifically at younger people.  We don’t know exactly what form this would take and would be interested to hear ideas or meet potential collaborators.

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

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

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

 

 

 

 

Posted in Leadership, society | Leave a comment

The leadership case for voting “Remain”

With apologies to my non UK readers, I have to dedicate this weeks post to why I will be voting “Remain” in the UK/EU membership referendum, and the leadership case for it.

Here is why I believe it is so critically important to remain part of the EU.

As I have written many times, leadership has a disproportionate effect on culture.  An inspiring and warm leader will create an inspiring and warm culture.  A divisive and aggressive leader will create a divisive and aggressive culture.

Even before the leaders of the Leave campaign showed just how decisive and aggressive they are I felt strongly about being in Europe.  I have felt both European and British since I had the joy of working at Razorfish in the late 90’s.  Our London office was a glorious smorgasbord of nationalities and cultures who came together to invent and create.

As head of strategy for our European offices I travelled to and worked with offices all over Europe.  I have a Danish wife.  We took advantage of “free movement” to go and live and work and pay taxes in Spain for 6 years.  Through my consulting I have worked in most European countries and always valued both the differences and the similarities.

My deeply held values include:

  • Collaboration and participation not isolation
  • Openness and exploration not control
  • Sharing and community not selfishness
  • Diversity and inclusion not monoculture or exclusion
  • Creativity and forward thinking not nostalgia and stasis

The former are values I share with the European Union, the later are values expressed all too frequently by the Leave campaign.

Of course the EU is a compromise – how would it not be? – but it is a compromise that has hugely advanced living standards, reduced conflict and enhanced security for millions of people over the last 50 years.

A United Kingdom lead by the ideals and values expressed by the Leave campaign would, be a lot less united.  Both Scotland and Northern Ireland would be forced to decide whether to stay with a little England or with Europe.  A little England itself riven by the divisive language of it’s leaders.

Perhaps the biggest catalyst of this whole sorry experience has been the controversy around immigration and the confluence of EU freedom of movement based immigration with refugees and other immigrants escaping conflicts (that we helped to create in many cases) in Syria, Libya and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

What is seldom discussed in any context is the extent to which the UK, along with many other countries in Europe desperately need immigration to compensate for our ageing population and low birthrates.   Typical estimates are that the UK needs net immigration of around 150 to 200,000 people per year to maintain our economy and population levels.  Germany needs more like 700,000.  See this Daily Telegraph article from before the whole referendum debate distorted the narrative.

Overpopulation may seem like a problem, but in many ways it is a more attractive problem than de-population.  We have had depopulation in parts of the UK before.  Spain and Italy have severe rural depopulation and Japan has severe national depopulation.  See this editorial from the Japan Times.

The anti-migration narrative has been manufactured and created.  The British people are not fundamentally anti-migrant.  Britain is and has been a cultural melting pot for at least the last 2000 years.  Most of us have some immigrant ancestry within just a few generations (Watch Boris Johnson on Who do you think you are?).  My great grandfather was a Dutch Jew who came to London in the 1920’s, every member of his family who didn’t was murdered in the Holocaust.

The anti-migrant narrative has been invented and whipped up by political leaders in the UK.  It is a simple trick to pull and the same one that Donald Trump has used in the US.  The playbook goes like this:

  1. Take a disgruntled population
  2. Tell them that all of their problems are the fault of an “outsider” group
  3. Tell them that if that outsider group were excluded everything would be OK
  4. Take power on the back of this “strategy”
  5. Execute your real agenda of enrichment of your crony elite at the expense of everyone else, especially the outsider group.

If this sounds familiar to students of history, it’s because it is.  Status hungry rulers and despots have done it over and over again.

The anti-migrant narrative is a pure invention to exploit people’s far more genuine grievances with the failings of government, particularly since 9/11.  And cutting immigration will do nothing at all to resolve those concerns. Nothing at all!

Additionally Brexit will hand power to a politics which is regressive on almost every aspect of social and environmental progress that has been made since 1945.  The Britain they appear to want back is poorer, harsher and less safe in almost every way.

I will be voting Remain because I want to see Europe collaborating to make the world a better and safer place for everyone and I want a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to play an inspiring and leading part in it.

Let’s all be part of making that happen and for those of us who are eligible let’s start by voting to Remain with the European Union on Thursday.

Thank you

neil

 

 

 

Posted in society | 2 Comments

Cultivating Leaders

I want to lay a myth to rest.  Leaders are not born.

At least, not the leaders you actually want to be led by or have leading in your organisation.

It all starts with a fundamental misconception around leadership.  When we talk about leaders being “born rather than trained” what are are talking about are the typical authoritarian “Boss” or “Ruler” type of “leader”.  Those types of status seeking individuals do not need to be trained to be egotistical, narcissistic and bullying.

In my experience these are not truly leaders at all, because the first requirement of being a leader is to have followers.  Bosses and Rulers don’t have followers, they have adherants, chancers and cronies, all looking for a shortcut to their own status by sticking closely to a dominant personality and drafting to some version of “success” in their slipstream.  As such these adherents will seldom challenge their meal ticket.  Far from it, they will seek to ingratiate themselves by agreeing, pandering and subordinating to the outrageous.

Followers are those who believe in a cause or purpose and see aiding and supporting a leader as the way to achieve the purpose.  They will challenge the leader and in doing so they will enhance both the leader and the strategy.  The leader will only be effective if they can align followers into a cohesive team and develop individual capability along the way.

Authentic leaders are the ones who inspire us, who make us feel good about ourselves, because we are contributing to sustained success in the organisation, community or society.  Authentic leaders enable and empower us to do more, be more and create more value.  Authentic leaders seldom issue orders (except in crisis), but listen to ideas and arguments and help the best become the plan.  Great leadership is a subtle and sophisticated art.

Leadership is something we learn.  We learn it through study, through practice and most of all through having great teachers.

The military, who know a thing or two about leadership, do not leave leadership to chances of birth anymore. Since a litany of military disasters catalogued in Norman Dixon’s classic “On the psychology of military incompetence” the British military have actively trained leaders  through that combination of study, teaching and practice at a young age.

The disasters that Dixon writes about were not bad luck, they were a consequence of bad, egotistical, narcissistic, bullying leadership and their attendant knavish, fawning followers.  This type of individual simply does not get to lead in the best military forces any longer.

Similarly many of our non-military disasters (The financial crash, Climate Change, corporate calamities, the situation in Syria, to name a few) are not the result of bad luck.  They are the result of the same combination of  bad, egotistical, narcissistic, bullying leadership and their attendant knavish, fawning followers.

Why does business and government still leave leadership to chance?  Why do we not offer systematic leadership education and preparation for those who choose leadership, in their 20’s and 30’s.  Is it because we have not yet had enough political or commercial disasters to persuade us yet?

We urgently need to both stop electing, selecting and promoting egotistical, narcissistic, bullying individuals to positions of authority (Please bear this in mind in your forthcoming voting opportunities in the US and the UK)  and start developing the next generation of great authentic leaders.

Holos is currently designing leadership academies for a number of clients to do just that.  A “Sandhurst” for commerce.  A “West Point” for the public sector.  Specifically to work with people in their 20’s and 30’s who are willing to make the choice to lead.  The Holos model of leadership academy will work, as the military do, intensively with character as well as competence, using study, teaching and especially practice to deeply embed the habits, wisdom and intent that makes for great leaders.

Since we set Holos up our vision has been “Ubiquitous Authentic Leadership”.

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 www.holoschange.com

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

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

 

 

 

 

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