Ownership or Leadership?

Why is ownership so important in team and individual engagement?

With ownership one could argue, the owner’s worldview is to extract value from people working on ‘their’ projects where as, a leader is leveraging the potential of a group of people to co-create value for the community.

Ownership is one of the greatest cons of all time which began around 10,000 years ago. Somehow, somebody, (probably a man) got their hands on some agricultural tech and gained an advantage over others, then leveraged that advantage. This has led to hierarchies, the exploitation of people and the destructive extraction of wealth from the planet with disastrous consequences.

Don’t believe me? Just look around you…

Before that period, as evidenced by observing contemporary hunter gatherer cultures that are still around today, we can see that our Palaeolithic ancestors were primarily egalitarian. Moreover, they were egalitarian for 150,000 years and living in balance with nature. They’ve outlasted supposedly more sophisticated, war-like civilisations such as the Roman, Mongolian and several Chinese dynasties.

Anthropologists have studied dozens of hunter-gatherer societies in remote areas around the world such as Africa, Asia and South America. These tribes lived in small bands of about 20 to 50 people and have many common cultural values. They also maintain peaceful relationships with friends and relatives in neighbouring bands. Warfare was relatively unknown and the dominant cultural ethos emphasised autonomy, non-directive childrearing, communal cooperation and decision-making. It appears we collaborated our way to the top of the evolutionary tree.

On the flip-side, modern history has been the ongoing conquest by dominant warring parties of other smaller bands to form more complex political structures. These societies focus on higher levels of power, wealth and control passing to an elite group at the top and like a Ponzi scheme is unsustainable. Every so often they fail and collapse back down to more sustainable levels. Then when the dust has settled and memories faded they begin the same journey again.

We’re heading towards a global economic and cultural community but that’s a work in progress. In the meantime we’re wrecking the planet with our conquering and exploitative mindset and people’s mental health and wellbeing are suffering as a result. Two decades of war in the middle east to protect the American petro-dollar is a classic example. All those humanitarian and ecological costs to protect the oil industry and American’s hegemony, are externalised onto communities and the planet.

So back to teamwork and leadership.

How does behaviour compare with egalitarian communities and modern workgroups?

Just as we have modern archetypes in the workplace, one could argue they match those of ancient egalitarian people. There are hunters, gatherers, shaman (mostly women originally) and scouts.

Hunters periodically acquired meat as a source of protein, Shamans were the keepers of the wisdom e.g. which berries were edible and which would kill you. Gatherers nurtured others in the community and foraged for edible vegetation and the Scouts would look for new hunting grounds and connect with other communities for marriages and trading.

Today we have Founders who are similar to Scouts as in they challenge old ideas, create new products and champion new ideas.

We have Entrepreneurs who tend to be more risk tolerant, focussed and can drive new ideas into existence similar to the hunter personality.

We have the Gathers who are the supporters and coaches within the organisations.

And the Managers, like the Shamans, are generally the keepers of the wisdom and strive for operational excellence and like to organise for certainty.

But what’s different from the workplace is traditional egalitarian communities maintain social norms that prevent any of the personalities from trying to exploit their position. These are called:

S.T.O.P’s – Strategies to Overcome Power

Hunters didn’t bring home meat then boast about their good fortune and hold the rest of the group to ransom. They didn’t promote silly ideas of greed as some ordained right. Material wealth was shared. Egalitarian communities focus on what George Monbiot calls ‘private sufficiency and public luxury’ the total opposite of what neo-liberal capitalists promote today.

In our evolutionary history we began to resist hierarchy, an ancestral primate social modus-operandi, when we developed the ability to speak. This allowed weaker members to collaborate more effectively, band together and throw rocks at any tyrannical member of the group that tried to dominate them. However, all previous evolutionary and developmental versions of us, are encapsulated within us and if the right conditions occur, people will revert back to being monkeys basically.

They will try to dominate others to get a bigger share of the bananas, and once they’ve got their hands on the bananas, they don’t like letting go.

For business owners and managers this means they have to deal with the psychological effects of the dominance and involuntary defeat systems. These are behavioural operating systems which arise as soon as you introduce hierarchy.

Those with authority and status begin to focus on their position and keeping it rather than doing what’s best for the community. It also increases the likelihood of psychopathology such as Machiavellianism and narcissism (a good example is politics).

Being dominated, triggers our involuntary defeat behaviours which leads us to doing as little as possible for our meagre share of the bananas…Well you would wouldn’t you?

As society has become more polarised between the have’s and the have nots, resentment builds. We’ve seen this with the rise of populism as smart people have tapped into the powerlessness felt by those left behind and motivated them to act in ways which actually don’t serve them but serve the elite…yet again.

Archimedes said:

‘Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can lift the world’

Well leadership is the lever and humility is the place to stand. If we strive to see leadership as a lever of potential not a badge of office and promote those leadership behaviours throughout the organisation in self managing teams and communities we would probably see engagement increase tremendously. Of course it is not easy to wrestle back control from the baboons so perhaps it would be better to follow Buckminster Fuller’s idea:

‘Don’t fight the existing reality, create a new one which makes the old one obsolete’

So in summary, if you’re prepared to treat people like wage slaves, then by all means carry on, but don’t be surprised if it feels like you’re dealing with monkeys at times. Also accept that people are fed up of being left behind which is how Trump and Brexit happened. They’re also realising that their is an alternative and it’s on the rise.

Employee ownership is attracting tax incentives as it has been seen as beneficial for business and society for many years. When you have this level of ownership then the teams have skin in the game. It’s a great way for entrepreneurs to have a succession plan, because when things are steady, they like to move onto their next challenge whilst leaving a legacy.

Whenever an organisation needs to adapt quickly to overcome greater challenges, they’ve always diminished the influence of hiearchy and moved power to information. I call this the Elite Team Concept, as used by the military and organisations.

Special project teams have been hiding in plain site and showing the way for centuries. The irony is that they’re not elite, they’re egalitarian in nature and focus on doing the basics well. It’s our evolutionary advantage. Imagine if you empowered your whole orgniasation with the elite team concept?

Want to know more?

Check out: The Elite Team Concept Seminar with Complimentary Digital Book

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-elite-team-concept-seminar-with-complimentary-digital-book-tickets-98264771577?aff=ebdssbeac

The next one is Online on February 4th 2021

What are you going to Stop-Start-Recover & Adapt?

Scientific philosopher, Thomas Khune, stated that ‘advancement is not evolutionary, but rather a series of violent revolutions and in such revolutions one conceptual worldview is replaced by another’. Khune called these revolutions in worldviews ‘Paradigm Shifts’

As I was explaining the universal life cycle to a client yesterday, the pandemic was a useful example of the latest paradigm shift.  Every decade or so, we experience upheavals because shifts happen. As much as we’d like the world to be certain, it seems that the second law of thermodynamics regarding entropy of systems always comes to pass.

A shift is when the world as we understand it suddenly stops working and we go into some sort of emergency event. Examples of shifts I’ve experienced are 9/11, the Great Recession and now we’ve got Covid-19 and the fall-out from that in terms of second and third order effects are yet to be fully realised.

Right now, the pandemic has disrupted our lives and business behaviours but it is also an opportunity to create new beginnings. Winners of the present paradigm however, are not very good at accepting reality and adapting, especially when it comes to giving up power, status and wealth. So, it is vital that whilst the incumbents are wrestling to maintain the status-quo, that we get busy challenging, connecting dots and creating a brave new world.

There are three responses:

  • You can create some new ‘things’ to do.
  • You can stop doing some things.
  • You can recover and adapt whatever you were doing before.

However, in the recover and adapt stage, one has first to recognise and understand why something collapsed in the first place. Then work out what you need to do to make that ‘thing’ more resilient, valuable and sustainable.

Whilst we might not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, it will be necessary to adapt otherwise you head into the realm of ‘lessons are repeated until they’re learnt’.

When that happens, the weak point will become more difficult to recover in the future. Moreover; lessons are repeated more often and cost more resources often leading to a slow death. How long organisations bounce up and down from collapse to recovery and back again, depends really on how much money they have to waste.

A better response if you don’t feel adaption is going to be beneficial is to indulge in some creative destruction, get rid of the old and create something new.

Overcoming Zoom Fatigue & Enjoying Effective Online Meetings with Mission Power!

With the desire for remote working from home increasing, then becoming a necessity due to Covid-19,

Richard Elwell and I discuss the complexity which makes online meetings an evolution in some ways but also a well-being challenge because it can be so exhausting.

We discuss the Mission Power Meeting Methodology and how this can be used to optimise the technology whilst also leveraging the potential for people to enjoy effective and rewarding online and face-to-face meetings.

THE FIVE SUPERPOWERS OF GREAT LEADERS

Archimedes said, ‘give me a lever long enough and a strong place to stand, and I can move the world’. Well the lever is leadership and the place to stand is humility.

With humility the word leader transforms from a noun to a verb. Leading is something that ordinary people can do to leverage the potential within other people, themselves, a team or a situation. With simple rules of behaviours amongst a group of people comes synergy, where the whole becomes more effective than the sum of its parts.

The following leadership Superpowers are really simple, the challenge for most ‘so-called’ leaders today is having the humility and compassion to want to be great leaders because most are ego-centric as opposed to eco-centric. There are plenty of great leaders out there but unfortunately their results and efforts are overpowered by ego-centric power brokers who maintain the status -quo.

The world needs great leadership and effective teamwork at every level and every corner of the world right now, if we’re to tackle the enormous challenges which have come about by ego-centric leadership that has run rampant supported by delusional ideology and institutions which condones selfish behaviour.

The five leadership super powers:

Listen and clarify: This requires cognitive intelligence and it is a skill which requires the leader to engage in focussed listening, summarising and questioning to ascertain more of the details.

Recognise and reward: A lot of people complain that they’re not recognised at work and in some of their closest relationships. It is often why people may move on from one organisation in search of more rewarding pastures.

Nobody wants to be a widget in the machine, especially since the social contract which kept people subservient in the Victorian era, has been shredded. An effective leader utilises behavioural intelligence to recognises people’s efforts when they’re doing good work and rewards them for their efforts.

Enquire and empathise: This requires the use of compassion and emotional intelligence. With this you enquire how a person is or a team is and you try to intuit how they are feeling so that you can understand their situation more clearly. Often this will mean listening for what isn’t being said, understanding the whole person and what’s going on in their life outside of the organisation, so you can support them.

Challenge and champion: Leaders should be constantly looking for ways to improve the structure and challenge the status-quo. It requires the use of social intelligence to see how the team are operating, the lines of communication, the informal networks and also looking outside to learn new ideas that can be assimilated into the organisation, team or individual. It also involves creativity to come up with new modus-operandi, products and services and then champion those ideas so everybody gets to hear about them.

Knowing what to do and when: Lastly, the leader needs to exercise situational awareness. This includes being self-aware enough to understand their own skills and what they may need to practice more of, but also a leader needs to be able to determine when and which Leader Superpower to exercise to optimise the situation.

Ten Benefits for Implementing the Elite Team Concept in Your Business

Notes: HERE 

For a complimentary digi-copy of my book, ‘From Mercenaries to Missionaries – Designing, Developing & Leading High Performing teams in Your Growing Business’ send a message using the form below:-

Personal Leadership Through Challenging Times

An online talk in response to the Corona virus about leading ourselves through challenging times with downloadable resources here:

PDF Leading Yourself Through Challenging Times

PDF 3 Leadership Principles

PDF Making Decisions Effectively

The Delusion of VU (From VUCA) is Over!

I came across a discussion on twitter which alluded to the fact that the world was becoming more complex. This discussion was based on the ideas of General Stanley McChrystal, author of ‘Team of Teams, New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World’.

McChrystal wrote:

“Efficiency remains important, but the ability to adapt to complexity and continual change has become an imperative.”

I remember feeling irked about this statement and the reason for this response, (apart from having man-flu at the time) is that people are acting as if VUCA (the US military term to represent volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is a new phenomenon. That’s not correct, the world has always been subject to volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Ask poor people.

Read more: Here

Great Leaders are Learning to Paradigm Shift

“The biggest paradigm shifts happening right now are ironically the increasing awareness of the existence of paradigms…”

Paradigms are a worldview shared amongst a group of people so they can experience group identity
and achieve a common purpose. Our world is governed by them very much like seas influence the
life of a fish.

Examples of paradigms include the idea of countries, money, religion.

They are a set of beliefs, values and stories which enable collaboration with greater numbers of people and even with people living different locations. It is our ability to use paradigms that enabled us  to climb to the top of the species hierarchy.

One monkey left on a deserted island might survive more ably than one person might (unless he’s Bear Grylls). But if you put one hundred people on the island, then they would organise themselves more effectively than the monkeys.
But there are a few problems with paradigms….  Read More

Imposter Syndrome~Why Bad Leaders Don’t Get it & How To Get Over It!

I was recently invited by the crew at JCI Manchester to present a talk on Impostor Syndrome.

JCI is a global not-for-profit organisation run for members by members, which provides development opportunities for 18 – 40 year old professionals and leaders, to empower them to create positive change.

Whilst presenting my talk I pointed to a statistic which said that in a group of 3000 people aged 18-34, a whopping 86% experienced Impostor Syndrome in that year. As I had a room full of this age bracket, I used this as an opportunity to ask the room and sure enough, practically all the hands went up.

I thought I would follow this up with this article because as a leadership and team performance coach, I believe social anxiety problems like Impostor Syndrome are limiting talented people from making a positive impact.

Want to know more about Impostor Syndrome from a different perspective, read: Here