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Archive for January, 2012

Your Introversion Is An Asset

Time for Introverts to fight back! For too long the world has literally been dominated by extroverts. The introverts can’t get a word in edge ways. The loudest voices have dominated and often held sway.

However with “Time to Think” – an approach designed by Nancy Kline, as introverts you will have the space to share your views, opinions and freshest thinking. You will surprise the extroverts by sharing your voice and creative thoughts. So change the way you run meetings to unlock the potential of 50% of your talent that your organisation suppresses and discriminates against.

I enjoyed Terence Blacker’s controversial article in The Independent. He likes stirring things up like Darren Robson and to be the shark in the fish tank. So I will definitely read Susan Cain’s new book when it comes out at the end of March “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”.

I do agree that we need uninterrupted time to think to be creative. However from 32 years experience I don’t subscribe to the extrapolation of that view that collaborative team building events are less effective than solitude for producing the best results.

The way you can run team building events will make it possible to bring out the best in both introverts and extroverts and does not need to be polarised to favour one or other.

It can fundamentally change teams for the better.
There is a better way to be creative, innovate and inspire you and your team.

Warm regards Jonathan

How Do You Sack Your Friends?

Your organisation is “making cuts and managing costs”.
That means people will be “made redundant, sacked, or fired” and loose their incomes which effect their families and confidence. Since this is widescale they may not get another job easily.

What is so tough is that good leaders have built strong friendships with their direct reports. They may have played golf together, been out to dinners and drinks or had them back home for dinner. Now you have to sit some of them down and say “I’m really sorry but I’m going to have to let you go……”

This is a horrible moment. The more brutal managers say bluntly,”that is why I am distant and never build close relationships with direct reports; you can fire them without any qualms!”

I don’t subscribe to that approach; I have experienced that teams that are inspired and well lead have close trusting relationships. Such leaders also have the courage to eyeball those they lead and tell them the difficult truth about firing them. They do it with dignity and kindness and help them transition to a new role. They don’t shy away. They are often thanked later for the way in which they did it and helped them with a different career path.

Have the difficult conversations. Remember someone may be doing the same to you one day.

Warm regards Jonathan

Are You Accountable? Solid or Dotted Lines

How accountable are you REALLY in large organisations? The scale and complexity of global organisations encourages them to fudge accountability and responsibility. Everyone is responsible; so no one is responsible.

Various systems are experimented with; matrix organisations with accountability in 3 different planes, upwards sideways and diagonally. If you don’t understand that, then you’re not alone. Then there are Councils with silos and horizontal accountability. Then there are co-heads, so both are responsible for leading a department and everyone has to be consulted and have endless corridor conversations.

You also have “Solid and Dotted-line” accountability. A fudge if ever I met one.

The result is hours and days of meetings, consultation, lobbying and endless politics and clashes of egos. Wasted time, effort and money that can’t be afforded in today’s austere times.

In the military in peace and on operations we had one commander and a clear chain of command with very specific accountability and responsibility. You couldn’t hide or fudge your resposibility. The buck stopped with you.

Business is not the military; I have worked in both. There does however need to be clearer accountability; in organisational structure, role descriptions and personal moral responsibility.

Go on take responsibility and sort out the fudges and shirkers.
Warm regards Jonathan

Do you have to be dysfunctional to be leader?

“If you are a fully functional, balanced, emotionally stable person, brought up by two well-adjusted parents then you would never be driven to go for some of the top roles in business today.”

So goes the argument of a friend of mine who is a Professor at a top business school. And I wonder does he have a good point?

There may be an element of truth in what he says, based on some of my own experiences.

I do come across highly driven leaders who have had quite a dysfunctional upbringing; with one or other of their parents being killed, or leaving them when very young. In one case a senior leader is still attempting to prove to his long dead father that heĀ is good enough for his father’s approval. In another a female leader was desperately seeking for the love and approval of her highly critical mother from whom she never received the slightest praise for any of her considerable achievements and this pushes her on to achieve even more. Nothing was good enough for her mother and neither is it for this talented leader.

My friend’s argument goes that, “if an individual was fully balanced, with a happy childhood full of sufficiency, then they would not have that burning, obsessive desire and drive within them to push themselves ever onwards. Instead they would be contented, relaxed and quite happy with their lot”. They would find a job in which they were content, go to work and do a reasonable job, come home and spend time with their partner and their children. They might also spend more time socialising with family and friends. For them work would not be a major part of their life. They would work to live rather than live to work.”

To balance such an argument I must add that, despite the fact that personally I have been very driven by a slightly dysfunctional family upbringing (in which my father was killed when I was 3), I have many cases of fully functioning leaders with happy upbringings. In spite of this apparent “disdvantage” they are very driven to do an outstanding job and constantly strive to produce nothing but the best.

I’m interested to hear what your own experience have been and are as a leader. Was your upbringing a functional one, or a dysfunctional one and how has that shaped your drive for status, recognition, achievement and making a difference in the world?

Good luck inspiring leadership wherever you go.

Warm regards Jonathan