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’.
“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.
“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
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
A favourite quote of mine is Buckminster Fuller’s, “You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” I’ve been looking for a way to implement this philosophy into my work.
I spent some time with overseas intelligence officers last year, teaching leadership. For amusement I used the opportunity to subversively challenge their worldview under the guise of improving decision-making skills. By challenging them to argue for their enemies’ viewpoint, it soon became apparent that both sides had ideas worthy of consideration. People are complex beings. Ultimately though, the officers realised that after leaving the course, they would hit the paradigm inertia present within consolidated organisations and governments and have to continue working on the assumptions they held before.
So, upon my return I wrote a book called ‘From Mercenaries to Missionaries’. It’s a fusion of
experience, observations and research whose purpose is to help business owners evolve into leaders who can unleash more of the purpose, passion and potential of the teams in growing businesses. Within society entrepreneurial people are creating wealth by selling products and services. To be successful they have to compete for their place in the Universe and bringing a product to the marketplace often requires a Herculean effort. I realised by working with business owners, that once they achieve a certain measure of success, they can be persuaded to challenge the present paradigm, much like I did with the intelligence officers.
Businesses usually follow the ‘growth for growth sake’ mentality. This leads to growing teams of people who become less engaged, trading their time for money, constantly in need of a pay rise to maintain the levels of dopamine they get from opening their payslips. It’s the mercenary approach. It becomes soulless and frustrating working in mercenary organisations as people become widgetized to remove uncertainty. But I help leaders harness the complexity and creativity within the team, not hide from it.
To challenge this paradigm in larger, consolidated organisations, is possible but it meets more paradigm inertia. So, this book helps founders and entrepreneurs develop high performing, intra-dependent teams who can make ecological decision which don’t sink the ship. This then allows the entrepreneur the freedom to solve other more meaningful problems and they can be guided to help their communities thrive too. I would say:
‘Inspirational leadership is ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a constantly shifting world. Leading themselves and, by example, others into a better world for everyone. A world which is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and a personally fulfilling place to live and work’.
Until we change the way we operate in society, I’m on a mission to challenge the entrepreneurial lifecycle helping them become purpose focussed instead of purely profit driven. By unlocking more of the potential of the team’s collective intelligence, organisations can become platforms for developing a new world which makes the old world obsolete.
Anticipating and planning for a world which not even the experts know will look like yet, will bring fresh challenges – probably daily – for leaders, teams and the coaches who support them.
Here is a white paper on a new model of coaching suited to Modern Day Leadership Coaching. It’s aimed at leaders and coaches wanting to leverage more potential and unlock the opportunities within the chaos of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Download here.
I’ve just been speaking to some friends who’re doing some changes in the way they operate their business. Well they’re not ‘just’ changes, they’re actually transforming the structure and the way they communicate with each other and their customers.
There are five stages to pass through and seven fears to overcome when making bold moves to make your world and everybody else’s, a better place to live and work. You’d think everybody would be up for the challenge, but that’s not usually the case. That’s why Tom Collins advises leaders in his book; ‘Good to Great’, that before you decide where your business bus is going, you need to:
‘get the right people on the bus, and sat in the right places’
Our normal day to day working life or even just life itself can leave us feeling mentally confused. When we find ourselves so caught up in the whirlwind we often cannot see the wood for the trees.
In this fast-moving mental state, our brains are very capable at using past experiences to make a decision. In these situations, we make decisions intuitively and mostly this works okay. The more successful experiences we have built up over time in a particular field, the better our decision making will be when we face similar challenges in the future. That’s why experience counts in business. READ MORE
“Humans never communicate as effectively as they think they do” Christine Comaford
So, I am working with this group of team leaders and I notice that they are greatly biased towards a certain style of behaviour and communication. They’re very collaborative and inclusive when they are briefing their teams for a task to be carried out. The problem is that they continue to collaborate and communicate until they leave themselves little time for achieving their task.
This is because the group of leaders have grown up in a certain type of culture. Their culture drives their way of thinking and behaving. Just as an individual has a personality, an organisation or country can have its own culture. There is much to be said for being aware of such biases and overcoming them because neuroscience is finding that to have a diverse and inclusive culture creates better performance. But it’s one thing to be aware of them, that alone will not stop biased thinking and behaving. What we need is a process to overcome this when briefing teams. READ MORE
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford
No matter how talented, passionate, and determined to succeed you are in your chosen business, your level of success will be determined by your ability to inspire and lead a team. The game of business or any endeavour is both simple and complex. The simple bit is to have a great idea which you turn into a set of business goals. You then have to attract support for your idea be that in the way of clients, a talented crew and if you’re lucky, a crowd. If you find yourself being one of the lucky ones, albeit combined with hard work and perseverance, whose idea takes off, it is then just a case of measuring and adjusting your way to success.
Of course, that’s not what usually happens. At some point, you’ll want to scale your business and this means adding more people to the equation which adds complexity. As the team become bigger, tasks become harder to complete for several reasons. One being that the channels of communication grow dramatically. Another phenomenon that arises the by-stander effect. The more people you add to a group, the more people will assume others will pick up the slack. Levels of management are brought into police everybody. This all comes down to the myth that people can’t manage themselves but they can if given the right conditions. READ MORE: