European Elections – the simplified version

The principle difference that allowed humans to become the dominant species on our planet is our ability to collaborate at scale. This is closely intertwined with our story telling abilities, something no other animal can do (as far as we know). For the majority of human history this collaboration was applied only to small family based tribes.

As we moved from hunter gathering tribes to farming, a broader collaboration became necessary. Food growing could be delegated to farmers and protection could be handled by soldiers. Tribes merged into cities and new roles and collaborations evolved. Gradually as our communication and storytelling abilities improved the scale on which we were able to collaborate also expanded from tribes, to cities, to city states, to religions, to nations, to unions between nations. In each case greater interdependence ultimately won, creating the society we have today.

However this evolution has always been uneven. There have always been those motivated to greater interdependence and equally, always those motivated to greater independence. Each of these motivations have generated their own stories and their own story tellers who often ended up as leaders inspiring their followers typically to collaborate to work for greater interdependence or to collaborate to fight for greater independence.

Most wars in history can be seen through the lens of either two independent groups fighting each other for control or independent groups fighting the interdependent group that they are part of to get out. Warring city states, religions and nations in the case of the former and independence from empires the latter case.

The tension between those wanting greater independence and those wanting greater interdependence has been a defining feature of human history.

That tension continues today in the tension between nationalists, seeking greater independence, and internationalists, seeking greater interdependence. The difference today is that a by-product of the arms race between these factions, is an existential threat to humanity and many other species; the global climate, air and ocean crisis.

About 40% of the adult population operate from each of independent and interdependent levels, with a further 17% operating at a dependent level. Those at a dependent level avoid taking responsibility or initiative and they like structure and rules. They are extremely vulnerable to authoritarians who are often also narcissistic or psychopathic and tend to come from the 2% who operate from a “self” level, believing that the world exists to serve them.

At an independent level we are very strongly located in our team, tribe, nation or religion. We believe strongly in our exceptionalism and like the stories that support it. We will find it easy to trust those in our tribe and will be suspicious of those outside it. We are competing with outsiders and believe that they never act in good faith. When we are independent we see life as a competition between “us” and “them”, where the winners end up destroying the losers.

At an interdependent level we believe in collaboration, we see others as equals and are ready to enrol them or to be enrolled, whatever boundaries exist are porous and we believe in the benefits of a flow or people and ideas. The default is to trust others, even those different from ourselves to the point of vulnerability. Competition can be a win, win where both parties end up improving. Compromise and collaboration are the default starting point.

The remaining 1% operate at an integral level and take interdependence, trust and vulnerability to the next level seeing it crossing species and encompassing past and future.

The European elections this week and other elections going on around the world turn out to be a contest largely between independent and Interdependent with those at a dependent level making a difference too.

The 17% who are dependent (probably fewer than that in Europe these days) are looking to vote for a “strong man” (usually specifically a man), they want someone who will act as a father figure and save them from having to take responsibility. If there is a strong man available they will vote for him, if not they will probably not vote at all and just nurse their anger that the world is against them. Some might be taken by the independent narrative and vote for that.

The 40% who are independent (probably more than that in Europe) are intoxicated by the simplistic, nationalist solutions of the populists. They love the narrative that the blame for their woes lies with whichever out group the populist leader has selected to blame. Global problems are dismissed or denied, precisely because they cannot be solved at the national level. They do not see or comprehend interdependence at all – seeing interdependent people simply as weak because they allow others to win. They will vote for the nationalist and anti interdependence leaders and parties.

The 40% who are interdependent (probably more than that in Europe ) are horrified that the so many of the people they had sought to enrol and include reject them and their values. They are frighted of global challenges – specifically the climate crisis – and are desperately searching for ways to include everyone in the solutions. They also tend to look down on those at an independent and dependent level and fail to understand why their invitations to collaborate are so firmly rejected. They will vote for the inclusive, integrationist parties and leaders.

This election might well be a turning point which decides whether our society is to be sustained or not. Given the state of the climate crisis and the eleven years that we have to make radical changes to the way that we operate, a rebalancing of Europe towards independence and the likely reduction in progress towards climate solutions, might just turn out to be terminal, not just for Europeans but for much of human society.

By contrast a renewal of our commitment to interdependence and decisive and determined climate action and leadership in Europe, might just save us.

If you have the opportunity to vote for or to encourage others to vote for progressive and interdependent parties in the European elections please do. It might turn out to be important.

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 society | 1 Comment

High performance teams in organisations

In the world of elite professional sport athletes and teams look for every opportunity to improve physical and psychological performance. Not just for the athletes themselves but for management and operations support as well. Top Formula One teams and Pro Cycling teams expect back office staff and management to pay attention to: Sleep rest and recovery, nutrition, hydration, exercise and mindfulness. These teams provide psychological and physiological coaching and training to team members so that everyone can be at their most effective most of the time.

In business by contrast we often expect our most senior executives to be able to perform on a solid diet of long haul flights, disrupted sleep, late nights, alcohol, complexity and stress. Quite apart from exhaustion, low energy, forgetfulness and burnout, one of the daily consequences of this is psychological triggering. The more physiologically and psychologically stressed we are the more vulnerable we are to being triggered. When we are triggered we go from being the best version of ourselves to a lesser version. Usually this means going from being interdependent and collaborative, willing to trust and be vulnerable to Independent, siloed and mistrusting or even dependent, waiting to be told what to do and unable to take the initiative.

Following on from the fascinating work on triggering and emotional regulation we have been doing with some clients, we have been keen to explore ways in which we could measure stress and it’s impact on behaviour through triggering. We were fortunate to connect with https://www.adeki.me who do this work in a sporting context and use sophisticated tools to measure micro changes in heart rate which gives an accurate picture of the bio reaction to psychological (and other) stress. Using this we can get a window into the biology of stress, moment by moment, in a challenging meeting for example and therefore the qualities and demands of the emotional regulation required to stay calm and avoid triggering under such circumstances. The measurements give us a route into deeper mental health and habits that impact psychological fitness such as nutrition, hydration, sleep/rest, mindfulness and exercise. This is deep stuff and will be most suitable for coaching or executive team situations where managing stress, emotional regulation or achieving really high performance are key issues.

Kieran Blay the founder of Adeki Performance….

At Adeki we believe in performance-through-wellness, that your true potential can only be unlocked by first building a solid foundation of wellness. Athletes, executives and everyone in between, are human – made up of the same internal systems – we just shape our lives differently. Everyone deals with stress and has to recover from it. These two elements are managed internally by the autonomic nervous system, which is split into the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches.

The sympathetic branch deals with our ‘fight or flight’ reactions, our stress response, which evolved our as an alarm system when animals or our ancestors were under attack. Triggering this response readies the body to take action and inhibits many internal processes, to channel energy into immediate survival. After the threat passed, they revert to ‘normal’ and recover before the next threat comes along. Essentially, this response helps keep all animals, including humans, alive in order to increase the chances to pass on their genes.

The parasympathetic nervous system mediates our ‘rest and digest’ response. It is the yang to the fight and flight yin. Connected to many of the same organs and processes as the sympathetic nervous system it promotes the opposite effect: recovery, rest, digestion and procreation. We need both systems to function but modern, fast paced lives have a tendency to become sympathetic dominant. We struggle to release and resolve threats from our minds. This shifts balance and prevents us fully recovering before the next threat or stressful situation presents itself. Unfortunately for us our systems do not distinguish between physical and psychological stress and the long term effects of an overload of either can have negative and, in some cases, life-limiting effects.

A good balance between stress and recovery is needed to live optimally and, thankfully, recent advancements in technology now allow us monitor this balance around the clock. Using clever wearable tech and the science of heart rate variability we can add an objective measure to help assess our lifestyle (it’s a long story… but effectively the gaps between each of our heart beats are influenced second-by-second by the balance of our nervous systems and we can now measure this).

At Adeki we take a holistic approach and our lifestyle assessment focuses on stress, recovery, sleep and exercise. Many people say they sleep enough but it is not the hours you spend with your eyes shut that count but how well you have recovered in that time. Our own studies have shown that in athletes, training and competition were often not the biggest factors of fatigue. Travel, work stress, domestic stress, nutrition and sleep were often bigger contributors. All of us can picture one or more of these affecting our daily performance over the years, but do you know which is the biggest influencer or threat to your performance?

If not, it’s time to find out.

Holos and Adeki are looking for individuals or teams in stressful jobs and challenging situations who are interested in maximising their individual and collective performance and in working at both a psychological and physiological level. Participants will need to be interested to review their lifestyles and potentially to make changes to habits in the areas of rest and recovery, nutrition, hydration, exercise and leadership in ways that improve both performance and wellbeing.

If you are leading or part of a team that might be interested in treating your working performance like that of an elite professional sports team, let’s have a chat and explore how we might collaborate.

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

Authentic Leadership, Vulnerability and Procrastination

Holos is a leadership and change consultancy with no employees and no offices.  We have 160 brilliant faculty members around the world and 20 Agents who work closely together to help transform organisational cultures so that they enjoy sustained success even in a disrupted environment. 

One of our Holos Agents is Dr Fiona Beddoes-Jones, a Chartered Occupational Psychologist.  She is the originator of five psychometric tools and the author of four books, all of which have been written to assist people in understand themselves and others and become the best that they can be.  Her doctoral research explored authentic leadership and how to develop it

“Getting stuff done” is a crucial aspect of leadership. Critically when we deploy the skill of leadership the stuff we get done is stuff that we have not done before, because leadership is fundamentally about change.  That change will only happen if followers follow the lead offered and therefore leadership and vulnerability go hand in hand.  When we take a step into the unknown, doing something we have not done before and with an unknown outcome, we don’t know if anyone will follow us,  This uncertainty makes us feel vulnerable and the very natural reaction to that emotion is to step back.  It is only when we lean in to that emotion of vulnerability that we choose leadership.

Understandably in the context of that vulnerability and uncertainty, it can take us a little time to fully step in to that leadership space.  It can take time to evaluate options and also to convince ourselves that we are OK with the vulnerability that will create for us.  Vulnerability – both an emotion and an action. 

We asked Fiona to write a blog post about Authentic Leadership, it turned into a post about the relationship between Authentic Leadership, vulnerability and why Authentic Leaders can end up delivering results more slowly, but more reliably than Boss Style Leaders.

Blog for Holos

This isn’t the blog post I meant to write.  I had meant to write something noble and inspiring, but instead, I kept putting it off, managing to make myself feel worse about letting Neil down as the weeks passed.   Then I came across a TED talk by Adam Grant about procrastination.  Apparently highly original thinkers do five things in particular that other people don’t do, and procrastination tops the list.  So I immediately felt better – obviously I must be one of these original thinkers!   But then I thought about it some more and I started to ponder two things: firstly, what ‘allowable weaknesses’ might authentic leaders have? (Obviously I was hoping that procrastination might be one of them), and secondly, from a different perspective, what would a truly authentic leader do in a situation where they had promised someone something but hadn’t yet been able to deliver?

Before we explore the answers to these two questions let’s consider what Adam Grant has to say about original thinkers.  What he calls procrastination I prefer to call ‘incubation’.  Once we’ve formulated an idea we look at it from every perspective and add to it over time.  Whilst this stops us from shutting ideas down or acting too soon, it does lead to delays which can be frustrating, for both us and others.  Secondly, original thinkers often doubt their ideas.  Paradoxically, rather than paralysing us as self-doubt can do, doubting our ideas gives us the energy to research them further, to test and refine them until we’re certain that they’re robust and can stand up to scrutiny.

The third thing original thinkers do is avoid taking the first option that presents itself, but rather, we look for the best option from all areas of our lives.  For example, if we want some heavy duty rope for the garden to make a wood and rope trellis, we don’t limit our search to the garden centre, we also go and investigate the boat chandlers where they will have other kinds of rope.  Vuja de is the opposite of déjà vu.  Original thinkers somehow seem to have the ability to look at things in ways which allows them to make connections and see things that no-one else has identified before.  I experienced this with Thinking Styles, the first cognitive and behavioural measurement tool I designed, it was the trigger for my doctoral research into authentic leadership and also for Leadership Temperament Types, a new concept which takes a psychobiological approach to considering how the four hormones of testosterone, oestrogen, dopamine and serotonin influence management and leadership style.  Vuja de was also one of the drivers for Neil and his business partner Mark when they conceptualised Holos as a challenger consultancy to support the development of authentic leadership within organisations today. 

Finally, the fifth thing that original thinkers do is practise.  Their creative output is much higher than other peoples’.  At 18 I went to Cordwainer’s College in Hackney, London and studied handbag manufacture and design.  I would always make two bags to everyone else’s one.  I worked more quickly than other people and I liked to use my time in class productively.  Rather than standing around chatting and waiting for a sewing machine to become available I would use the time to design a slightly different bag and cut out the pieces for it fitting in its assembly in otherwise wasted minutes.  So I got twice as much practise compared to the other students, which consolidated my learning and helped me to become quicker, more creative and more confident.  I learnt to trust myself and my abilities; life skills which I’ve been able to transfer to my roles as an organisational development consultant and psychologist.       

So back to our two questions about authentic leaders.  How would an authentic leader handle procrastination and can we consider it an ‘allowable weaknesses’?  I’m going to suggest that it depends on the situation.  Is it procrastination or is it incubation?  Is the output required by someone else so that they can achieve their objectives and if so, is there a deadline and how urgent and important is it?  Is the task something only the leader can do or can it be delegated?  Are they putting it off because they are scared of getting it wrong or of not being good enough, or have other things simply taken priority?  Authentic leaders do their utmost to be their best selves.  They always deliver unless circumstances change and they are unable to.  They are however, only human, and like all of us, sometimes it can take them longer to do something than they might have hoped.  I believe that they are worth the wait.            

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

Women take over as moral leaders of the world

There is a fascinating trend going on in the informal moral leadership of western society – it is being taken over by women.

Right now there are at least four women who are global exemplars of integral authentic leadership.  They have taken the mantel of Gandhi, Mandela and MLK and have moved the game on significantly with their skill, vision, compassion, leadership, integrity and courage.

This is the leadership we can all aspire to.

Greta Thunberg – what defines leadership is the courage to show the vulnerability to step forward when it matters and we are uncertain of the outcome and through that courage, purpose and vulnerability, inspire others to follow.  On 20th of August 2018 Greta stood alone outside the Swedish Parliament striking from school until the Swedish Government did something about climate change.  By the 15th of March 2019 an estimated 1.4 million students participated in the strike. Greta has addressed the UN, TEDx, the UK Parliament, Davos and the EU.  This is the video of Greta addressing the UK parliament:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwY06xE24Es

Carole Cadwalladr – leadership is not hierarchical, leadership is a choice that any of us can make.  We lead when we see something that needs to change, we make the choice to do something about it and others follow.  Leadership can involve speaking truth to power in ways that require skill and courage and which make us feel extreme vulnerability.  In that moment when we feel vulnerable most of us are likely to step back, however leadership requires us to feel that vulnerability and lean in.  Immediately after the UK’s EU referendum, as a journalist for The Guardian Carole started investigating what had happened and why.  She uncovered the story around Cambridge Analytica and the various funding irregularities of the leave campaigns.  She has consistently and personally challenged Nigel Farrage and Arron Banks around these issues.  In April 2019 at a TED conference sponsored by Facebook and attended by Mark Zukerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google and Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Carole took to the stage and skilfully took Facebook, Google and Twitter to task for breaking democracy speaking directly to “The Gods of Silcon Valley” as she described them.  This is the video of that speech:

https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadwalladr_facebook_s_role_in_brexit_and_the_threat_to_democracy

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  – if you have ever worked with anyone you consider to be a great leader the chances are that they are an authentic leaders.  Authentic leaders work hard at being the very best version of themselves as much of the time as they possibly can be.  Part of this involves skilful emotional regulation that enables others, particularly those we are leading, to also be the very best version of themselves as much as possible.  Authentic leaders create sustained success by enabling people to be the very best versions of themselves.  As a liberal progressive congresswoman in the US, Alexandria endures more than her fair share of criticism and prejudice.  She responds with a grace and charm, totally confident in herself, her beliefs and her identity in a way that deflates those who oppose her.  This is a news report of two attempts to intimidate Alexandria and her responses to them:

https://youtu.be/2yXcrLrSOZo

Jacinta Ardern – Authentic leaders are primarily motivated by purpose and not by status.  Authentic leaders do not seek the title and the trappings to bolster their fragile ego, but to serve and to make things better.  When things go wrong their first instinct is for empathy and their second is to look for systemic solutions. Authentic leaders avoid playing the blame game and seek to enable all systems and all individuals to perform at their best.  In the wake of the shootings in Christchurch in March 2015, as Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinta lead the nation in solidarity and empathy with the Muslim community.  Asked by a reporter “can you guarantee the safety of Muslims” she replied simply “That’s my job”.  She wore a headscarf out of respect and spent considerable time consoling and hugging those affected by the shooting.  Jacinta then moved quickly to strengthen New Zealand’s gun laws and call out social media platforms for their role in enabling terrorists.  This is a video of Jacinta taking initiatives against social media platforms:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0JgzvIl1G4

Right now I cannot think of a single man who is offering this kind of moral leadership to western society, at a time when it is desperately needed.  If we want more authentic leaders in our world all we need to do is to follow those who show the courage and vulnerability to do it.

Cometh the hour cometh the woman.

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, society | Leave a comment

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

 

 

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