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Are you too busy to think?

You are paid to think, not to be busy – So shorten your meetings to make sufficient space to think.

In this manic world in which we work, too many people approach it as if it is a dash to the line before they skid to a halt and finally die.

We know from the latest neuroscience studies that people do their finest thinking in an environment of calm, with appreciation from their boss and colleagues, plus space, time, sufficient stimulation and challenge – without it becoming unbearable pressure.

For far too many people their work environment is exactly the opposite.

As a consequence they become both stupid (their brain patterns are incoherent) and also get ill – through their body responding to intolerable an unrelenting pressure and generating far too much of the stress hormone cortisol.

I have first-hand experience of people who have developed cancer, have had heart attacks, brain tumours and debilitating illnesses which can be directly attributed to the unforgiving pressure of work. Two people that I knew recently died in such circumstances.

There are early warning signs.

You know there is an impending problem when people use language such as, “this work is killing me”, or “it’s toxic here”, “this work is unrelenting”, ” I can’t stomach it”, and “it is grinding me down!”

Consequently it is not surprising that if they don’t get the message to change their ways and the crazy pace that they are living their life than their bodies will stop them either temporarily, or permanently.

So please revisit your diary, question the purpose of meetings you go to, ask whether you need to attend at all and shorten the length of them. Generate the vitality hormone DHEA instead of the stress hormone cortisol.

Boldly grab back some time in your calendar, so you have time to think and make the 3 big decisions.

More of that in my next blog.

Good luck making more time to think.
I recommend you read Nancy Kline’s book “Time to think”

Warmest regards Jonathan

Are You a “Systemic Disturber”?

I have just spend a fascinating couple of hours with Dom Burch the Senior Director for Marketing and Innovation at Asda Walmart. Dom writes an excellent blog that I thoroughly recommend http://domburch.blogspot.co.uk

Dom is a very talented leader with the rare talent of being a “systemic disturber”.  He likes to challenge the way things are done around here and relook at marketing from a completely different perspective.  He inspires and makes you think. What about you? Take the survey on www.jonathanperks.com to see how inspiring a leader you are.

Both banking and supermarkets are undergoing a huge disruption to the way things have traditionally been done.  This is particularly fuelled by technology, regulation and customer demands.  Unless you and your business can be nimble, have a high tempo (being able to change direction quickly without losing momentum) and are prepared to change, then you will go out of business and be made redundant.

So are you up to the challenge?

best wishes Jonathan Bowman-Perks

 

Are You a Challenger or a Bystander?

We are still seeing some unhealthy and toxic behaviours in our most famous organisations.  I am concerned that this is particularly the case in are number of global financial organisations.

Why don’t people get it?

If you want a culture change programme, with healthy inspiring leadership behaviours, then it should not be left to HR alone to implement that programme.

You the leader have to be seen to be living the values your espouse.  Your followers are learning you.   You need to head up the programme, visit it frequently and have your fellow leadership team members take part in it.

Equally important is when unhealthy behaviours go on –  often connected to greed and bonuses – then you need to challenge such behaviours that fail to live up to your personal and organisational values.   Too often people act as bystanders and don’t challenge.  By being a bystander you are effectively condoning toxic behaviour.

So go out today and be a challenger –  not just another bystander!

Warm regards Jonathan

“Disturb Me, Please” – time to think differently

I have been inspired my the writings of Margaret J Wheatley which I attach a short article of hers below.

Disturb Me, Please!
The Works: Your Source to Being Fully Alive, Summer 2000

If we are people exploring the unknown, if we are to be the pioneers and discoverers of the new world, then I’d like us to notice the presence of some essential but unusual companions. One of our greatest friends on this journey of discovery is a very strange ally–disturbance. It feels important to me to highlight disturbance’s role as a friend because I have come to see certainty as a curse. This was not a realization that came easily to me. I, like most of you, was raised in the traditions of Western schooling. Knowing the right answer was always rewarded. Intelligence was equated with how well I did on tests, and most tests were about knowing the right answer. Later, as a leader, I was promoted for my certainty-I had the vision, I knew how to get there, and people would follow me based on how well I radiated that certainty, how well I disguised my fears.

But everything has changed since those sweet, slow days when the world seemed knowable and predictable, when we actually knew what to do next. The growing complexity of our times makes certainty about any move or any position much more precarious. And in this networked world where information moves at the speed of light and “truth” mutates before our eyes, certainty changes and speeds off at equivalent velocity.

But in spite of these new realities, it is very difficult to surrender certainty-our positions, our beliefs, our explanations. These things lie at the core of our identity-they define us as us. Yet in this strange new world, I believe we can only succeed in understanding and influencing this world if we are able to think and work together in new ways. Our most cherished beliefs, our greatest clarity must be offered up. We won’t necessarily have to let go of everything we believe and know, but we do have to be willing to let them go. We have to be interested in making our beliefs and opinions visible so that we can consciously choose them or discard them.

There’s another reason that our certainty needs to be surrendered. We live in a dense and tangled global system. Inside this complex and interconnected world, everyone has a different vantage point. It is true biologically that there is no one else exactly like us. But we are less sensitive to the fact that we each see things differently. Because everyone sits in a different place in the systems of work, community, and individual lives, we will each see the world from a unique vantage point. As complexity grows, we need more colleagues, not fewer, to describe to us what they see, what it looks like from their perspective.

The very complexity of life ensures that no one person can explain what is going on to everyone else, or assume that their point of view is the right one. We can look at this complexity as a new Tower of Babel, where we can’t hear each other because of so much diversity. Or we can look at it as an invitation to come together and truly listen to one another-listen with the expectation that we will hear something new and different, that we need to hear from others in order to grow and survive.

The need to relinquish our certainty lies at the heart both of modern science and ancient spirituality. From the science of Complexity, Ilya Prigogine tells us that, “The future is uncertain. . .but such uncertainty lies at the very heart of human creativity.” It is uncertainty that creates the space for invention. We must let go, clear the space, leap into the void of not-knowing, if we want to discover anything new.

In Tibetan Buddhism, “the root of happiness” lies in the acceptance that life is uncertain. If we expect life to change, we have an easier time of letting go. We won’t hold on quite so long to what has worked in the past, and we’ll resist grasping painfully for temporary securities. Only in our relationship with uncertainty are we able to flow gracefully with life’s inevitable cycles and to experience true happiness.

Every mystical spiritual tradition guides us to an encounter with Mystery, the Unknowable, the Numinous. If spirit lives in the realm of the mysterious, then certainty is what seals us off from the Divine. If we believe that there is nothing new to know about God, then we cut ourselves off from the very breath of life, the great rhythms of spirit that give rise to newness all the time.

Now why am I telling you all this? Because I believe our own need for certainty is as destructive to our human relationships as it is with the relationship we seek with the Divine. And because I believe that so much more is possible if we can be together and consciously look for the differences, those ideas and perspectives we find disturbing. Instead of sitting in a group and looking for confirmation, what is possible if we listen for disturbance? Instead of looking for safety in numbers and noting those who feel like allies or fellow travelers, what might we create if we seek to discover those whose insights are the most different from ours? What if, at least occasionally, we came together in order to change our mind?

In graduate school, I had one professor who encouraged us to notice what surprised or disturbed us. If we were surprised by some statement, it indicated we were assuming that something else was true. If we were disturbed by a comment, it indicated we held a belief contrary to that. Noticing what disturbs me has been an incredibly useful lens into my interior, deeply held beliefs. When I’m shocked at another’s position, I have the opportunity to see my own position in greater clarity. When I hear myself saying “How could anyone believe something like that?!” a doorway has opened for me to see what I believe. These moments of true disturbance are great gifts. In making my beliefs visible, they allow me to consciously choose them again, or change them.

What if we were to be together and listen to each other’s comments with a willingness to expose rather than to confirm our own beliefs and opinions? What if we were to willingly listen to one another with the awareness that we each see the world in unique ways? And with the expectation that I could learn something new if I listen for the differences rather than the similarities?

We have this opportunity many times in a day, everyday. What might we see, what might we learn, what might we create together, if we become this kind of listener, one who enjoys the differences and welcomes in disturbance? I know we would be delightfully startled by how much difference there is. And then we would be wonderfully comforted by how much closer we became, because every time we listen well, we move towards each other. From our new thoughts and our new companions, we would all become wiser.

It would be more fruitful to explore this strange and puzzling world if we were together. It would also be far less frightening and lonely. We would be together, brought together by our differences rather than separated by them. When we are willing to be disturbed by newness rather than clinging to our certainty, when we are willing to truly listen to someone who sees the world differently, then wonderful things happen. We learn that we don’t have to agree with each other in order to explore together. There is no need to be joined together at the head, as long as we are joined together at the heart.

I hope you have been disturbed by this and it makes you think differently about you you lead, trade, invest and make decisions

I know I have

Warm regards Jonathan

 

What does the “Lie in LIBOR” mean for you?

Perhaps you think The lies in the LIBOR scandal doesn’t affect you?
The CEO and chairman resign, 13 employees disciplined and five dismissed at Barclays, 25 bankers were forced to leave UBS and others disciplined and dismissed in RBS. US $1.5 billion Fines for UBS,  Barclays fined US $464 million and RBS fine even bigger and running into many millions of Dollars with at least 13 other banks under investigation.

There were more than $ 300 trillion contracts linked to LIBOR including mortgages, student loans and interest rate swaps with at the moment at least 30 lawsuits filed.

What is more concerned when you read the Bloomberg article March 2013 is the way that LIBOR was rigged was in the 3 ways traders attempt to manipulate the rate. Firstly by conspiring with rate setters, then colluding with other banks and finally bribing inter-dealer brokers.

So many seriously dishonest and near criminal acts linked to LIBOR rigging happened at the height of the financial crisis. So what must we do to avoid dishonesty continuing to fester, or breaking out in other parts of the banks and industry?

The first thing to have inspiring leaders who model high levels of integrity, and courage to tackle dishonesty and unhealthy toxic behaviour. Even now in the big banks a blind eye is still turned (by some so called “leaders”) to employees who misbehave provided they make lots of money and deliver on their numbers.
Profits at any cost have serious implications for us all.

So you think integrity is a nice to have?

How corrosive do you think a lack of integrity is for a company?
Here are some recent examples that I have come across:
1. Senior executives who overlook dishonesty in their staff, as long as those individual delivers and makes money.
2. Bosses who are too focused on their own financial package and benefits to be concerned about motivating their own staff.
3. Petty arguments between board members which infect the whole organisation and reduce the level of performance.
4. CEOs who play favourites and deliberately set off one executive board member against another like fighting dogs and enjoys watching the outcome.
5. CEOs who insist junior staff have leadership and development programmes, yet hypocritically think they and their board are too good to need any development themselves.

Sadly this is reality rather than fiction; what is your organisation like?

Warm regards Jonathan

You need courageous employees not more rules and regulations to tackle corruption

Many Thanks to Peter Neville Lewis and his South African colleague, Wendy Addison, Founder of  Speak  Out – Speak Up  for the powerful words below.  I have reproduced this from his wonderful blog which I recommend:

http://www.principledconsulting.biz/blog
Wendy was the whistle blowing Corporate Treasurer at Leisure Net, a major corporate accounting scandal in South Africa, back in 2000, which eventually landed the director participants in prison.
However the threats made against her, for her actions, were so severe that she had to leave SA and now lives in London.

“Murder will out”, as Shakespeare has it, and when it is revealed that organisations may not only have committed misdeeds, but attempted to suppress them over time, the damage to reputation, credibility and more hard-nosed measures of business success can be enormous.
In today’s ‘gotcha’ culture no tryst is sure to remain secret, no racial slur goes unrecorded, no corporate wrongdoing can be safely buried forever in a company’s locked filing cabinets.. Today anyone with a mobile phone and access to a computer has the power to bring down a billion pound corporation or even a government.

Legislation alone cannot make organizations open and healthy. Only the character and will of those who run them and participate in them can do that.  If a culture of collusion exists instead of a culture of candour, participants will find ways around the rules, new or old, however stringent. However, embedding the values of Trust, Candour and Transparency in an organisation’s culture is like having hundreds of internal auditors out there in every function of the company and will automatically lead to staff speaking out against wrongdoing.

A PwC survey of 5,400 companies in 40 countries found that 40 per cent were victims of serious economic crimes, averaging over £3 million in losses. Employees exposed 43 per cent of these – more than corporate security, internal audits and law enforcement combined. Empowered, ethical employees are a wise executive’s best resource.

Siemens’ executives, post bribery scandal, said:
“It’s easy to write policies but you need to get to the hearts and minds of the people”.

In our lives and at work, conspiracies of silence are enormously damaging and all but universal: the office bully no one confronts; the sexual abuse people turn a blind eye to, the budget games where people skew numbers and exaggerate expectations; the board of directors that tacitly suppresses dissent.

The artful denial of a problem will not produce conviction. Results can only be brought about when we find the moral courage to commit to speaking out.
No news is NOT good news and Silence is NOT golden – we need to find our voices and Speak Out and Speak Up.

How can you create a high performing team?

What is it that will make your team high-performing; while others are merely average?

Your key ingredient to inspiring leadership within your team, who in turn inspire others is to build strong, trusting relationships.

Too many senior leaders mistakenly believe that they need to be smarter and more knowledgeable than their direct reports.

Helpful, yet wrong!

What you really need is to be genuinely fascinated by the talents, lives and personalities of your team members.

In that way you can tune into what genuinely motivates them, why they come to work and what will allow them to willingly donate their discretionary life energy.

So why don’t you get to know your team today as unique individuals with specific talents that only they have.

Warm regards Jonathan

Do you need a PEP talk?

I hope that you enjoy this uplifting video

http://www.ted.com/talks/kid_president_i_think_we_all_need_a_pep_talk.html

There is so much that we can learn from our very young children.
They are less constrained by anxiety and fear of failure when they are so young.

What goes wrong? By the time we become teenagers we are riddled with angst and exam worries!

Perhaps it’s time for us to regain our wonder, sense of fun and belief in what is possible?

Warm regards Jonathan

How can you make 2013 your best year yet?

Do you shy away from defining crucial New Year’s Resolutions like:

1. What are your top 3 goals for this year?

2. Who do you want to be this year -so  how will you behave and treat your colleagues?

3. What is your life purpose – why are you here on this planet?

Keep it simple – neuro-scientists have found our brains respond well to the “Goldilocks effect” when designing goals and objectives that are motivational. Ensure your resolutions are not too hard, not too easy, just stretching enough yet achievable.

So don’t avoid a resolution, or goals and objectives.

Remember the warning – When you don’t know where you are going , any road will take you there”.

Whatever you decide keep it simple and motivational.

Good luck in making 2013 your best year yet.

Warm regards Jonathan