Too Many TAPs, Not Enough STOP’s, We Need More LEGO

When I wrote my Book: ‘From Mercenaries to Missionaries’ I wanted to give entrepreneurs, executives and managers tools around leadership and teamwork that are sublimely simple and easy to implement. Too much of the leadership lexicon has fallen into the realms of academia. Nothing wrong with academic study, but academia is often the activity of proving what’s already known. Academia didn’t invent mindfulness but we have people who can explain the neuroscience of mindfulness but don’t practice mindfulness, teaching mindfulness.

Moreover; we sometimes experience academics developing philosophies from observed behaviour then presenting it as logic. Milton Freidman did this with shareholder greed. Just because it happens doesn’t make it right because an intellectual said it. On a couple of occasions recently, I have found myself talking to some learned people, or rather they were telling me I was wrong, when what I already knew from experience, was true.

TAP’s – Tools To Accumulate Power.

Ever since the agrarian revolution, competitive people have used technology to hoover resources from a wide area and funnel those resources into a place where they can control the supply. Like our water supply, drawn from a wide area and funnelled into a tap. In a household the water is shared freely, but not in business.

When you develop control of a resource in a capitalist system, you are not going to share the resources equally, you’re going to exploit the situation. Hence why trickledown economics has never worked. It was just another BS explanation which is used to perpetuate greed. Old world examples include the Oil Industry and Banks. They’ve been hoovering up local resources whilst holding the world to ransom and passing the costs of pollution and debt slavery onto society for a century.

The latest example is the ‘platform economy’. This is just another TAP and code for the ‘monopoly economy’. Recent platform examples include: Amazon- hoovering up the local economy, Facebook – hoovering up our attention, Google- Hoovering up information and ad revenue. Most tech ideas have the potential to make our lives and the world a better place. But the challenge comes when people don’t understand why in our present culture they soon become weapons of subjugation.

Platforms combine network effect and first-mover advantage to gain enough users which then makes them immune to competition. With monopoly comes monopoly behaviours and as other large organisations identify the benefits of using the platform effect, you can guarantee that there’ll be more bad behaviour on the horizon.

We need to understand that given an opportunity people will revert to an earlier evolutionary psychological state which is dominance hierarchy. Basically, our inner-monkey will not let go of the ‘Apple’ once they’ve a firm grasp, even if it is detrimental in the long term. Once a person or small group have achieved dominance, they begin to believe their own nonsense and develop a sense of entitlement. They delete, distort, generalise and convolute whatever information is available to argue their point, even to the point of calling in divine powers to back their case. Kings, Queens and Presidents have been at this for centuries, aided and abetted by Bureaucrats. No matter how much media exposure reveals them to be ordinary and somewhat quirky people who managed to gain an advantage, they still sit in castles and big white houses. Tech moguls are the new royalty.

Research of contemporary hunter-gatherer communities revealed them to be rather egalitarian. They were able to live in a less stressful social existance because they employ STOPs- Strategies To Overcome Power. If a hunter returned with a prize, the rest of the community would, in a good-naturedly way, mock him because they wouldn’t want the hunter to become too big for his boots. They understood arrogance, entitlement and hierarchy was not good for their communties well-being.

STOPs range from satire to assassination, rock throwing to revolution. It’s a way to redress the balance when hierarchical leaders exploit their position too much. Unfortunately, there is little appetite for making the world a fairer place, everyone in tech wants to become the next Larry Page or Jeff Bezos. As these tech giants rise in power, their ability to externalise costs onto society and the environment increases. If Facebook and Amazon had to pay for the damage they’ve inflicted on democracy, the environment and the public’s mental health, to name a few dmaging examples, they’d be bankrupt pretty quickly. They operate under a façade of delusion just as the tobacco industry did.

What we really need is more LEGO – Local Economic Generating Opportunities. TAPs focus power into small areas, we call them cities and of course if you are not part of the tech digital world, there shortly be very little for you to do unless you find opportunities to generate local economic opportunities. Brexit and the pandemic have revealed how reliant we are on extended distribution lines which are fragile and polluting.

What if we followed the doughnut, circular economic and employee ownership philosophies?

I believe these aforementioned ideas are just a return to a more natural evolutionary advantage we’ve forgotten in the pursuit of the capitalistic delusion. If tech people focussed on building local resilience with platforms then it wouldn’t have to be doom and gloom, they could probably be a force for good. Then tech entrepreneurs could shift from being Mercenaries to Inspirational Leaders on a Mission to make the world a better place.

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.

Leading Yourself Through Challenging Times – Narrated Version 30 mins

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

Leadership Coaching for The Fourth Industrial Revolution

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.

LEADERSHIP: Are you carrying or influencing your organisation?

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When I ask business owners the above question, they’ll often ask me what I mean. So I qualify the question with another one. I ask them:

“Could you go on holiday for four weeks, have no contact with your team whilst you’re away and know that the organisation can still thrive?”

Mostly the answer is a resounding “NO!” READ More

 

Developing a Comprehensive Advantage in Business

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Competitive advantage is primarily seen as the ability to produce a product or service at a lower cost – aka comparative advantage – or in a more desirable fashion -aka differential advantage. Gaining a competitive advantage can be the result of several factors but the main idea is that you’re doing something in such a way as to outperform your competitors.

In the complex world we live in, there is a shift happening. Leaders have relied on one or two types of leadership intelligence to drive business performance. But that style of operating is coming to its zenith. Now enlightened leaders realise there are other ways to gain a more comprehensive advantage. READ More:

Developing Creative Brilliance in your Team (Part 2)

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In the previous article in this series I explained the CREATE model. If you’re going to unleash the creative brilliance in your team, you’ll need to foster some of the conditions which allow that to happen. These were the freedom to challenge existing paradigms, developing deep relationships amongst the team, exposure to novel experiences, creating associations between disparate ideas and subjects, training and experimentation. These foundations of creativity then need a process and some tools to harvest new ideas that emanate from the team.

TREAD vs SOAR Thinking… Read More

 

Developing PRIDE to get the best results from your team

PRIDEIn the past I’ve noticed that I like working with some clients on projects and then there were others, that didn’t leave me with such a good feeling. For various reasons the relationship with the client or project wasn’t one I’d like to repeat.

Similarly, I’ve noticed when coaching in organisations, there are certain things that need to be in place before the people I’m working with, judge themselves to be in a great job. Having these variables nailed means that people feel inspired to excel and are not purely motivated by the money (although it’s still an important component). With 70% of work forces being disengaged –according to Gallup- it seems like it would be a good idea to understand what’s going on here.

After a period of research and reflection, I came up with a few key factors that lead to higher project engagement and job satisfaction both for me personally and in the teams I’m working with. When these factors are understood and the conditions created to make these factors accessible, I believe leaders will see a rise in overall performance. There are four motivational ones which are at the ego level and one that is at a level of contribution. Altogether they instil a sense of PRIDE in the workplace:

Paid: As the career analyst Dan Pink recognised, expecting people to be intrinsically motivated to work on your project when they don’t know when the next meal is coming from is “comical”. Some people might even tell you money isn’t everything, but try not paying them. Actually don’t, take my word for it!

Some personalities value material things highly, so they love to be paid handsomely. Others will say money isn’t as important to them, but that’s only because they’ve disowned that side of their personality. As a leader you want to raise people up from the level of survival to a place where they can become more conscious instead of activity driven in work.

Starbuck’s recent media announcement regarding a pay rise was probably hoping to tap into some valuable PR. But as time went on, seasoned baristas noted that the pay rise was aimed at attracting new employees. As a result a lot of the baristas signed a petition on Coworker.org in frustration at not being paid enough to live on. You’ve got to pay people a reasonable wage, if you can’t afford to pay them, then you’ve not got a viable business model. Starbucks and Wal-Mart cannot be classed as great businesses if the state has to support their workforces. It’s exploitation because if those employees could secure another position and earn more elsewhere, they would leave those companies. Paying more money past a certain point doesn’t’ get better performance, especially if they have to think creatively, but you’ve got to pay people enough so they don’t spend time worrying about money and just as importantly you don’t want them complaining aloud to the world.

Recognised: It might seem intuitive to appreciate people for their efforts, but actually it doesn’t happen an awful lot in the workplace. People are too busy and don’t realise the importance recognition and appreciation play in motivation. People begin yearning for validation at childhood because it makes us feel good. Leon Seltzer PhD. concluded that recognition is important because:

“such recognition assists you in perceiving yourself as desirable, valuable, and esteemable. In a word, special.”

A useful exercise is to write each team member’s name on a sheet of paper and pass it around. Everybody else has to write something positive about each person. Even if they don’t like other attributes about that person, just focus on the positive ones and record them. Everybody gets a list of their positive qualities and behaviours. What gets recognised gets repeated and as Mark Twain noted:

“I can live for two months on a compliment”

Inspired: Being inspired at work allows people to transcend their ordinary experiences and limitations. This works because when team members are contributing to something out there, their own self disappears. It plays a significant role in enabling states of flow to arise; when time flies in a state of pleasurable effort when more potential and creativity is accessed.

Psychologist Todd Thrash and Andrew Elliot uncovered three core aspects to inspiration which are transcendence, evocation and approach motivation. These elements give us the ability to rise above animalistic self-concerns so we can actualise a vision of something meaningful and reach what the researchers concluded were the heights of human motivation which:

“…spring from the beauty and goodness that precede us and awaken us to better possibilities.”

Developmental: People are learning animals. In the workplace, people will be learning regardless of whether it’s conscious or not. I explain to clients that the team will either be spending time learning who won X-Factor or the football or something more productive. That’s the leader’s choice. As such it’s a great idea to make that learning rewarding and profitable for both organisation and the individuals.

According to the Campaign for Learning:
92% of people finding learning enjoyable
71% of learners believe learning increases quality of life
72% of people believe more time should be spent on personal development

I prefer my work experiences to be learning and growth experiences. I want to benefit in some way by developing as I work.

Great companies nurture the urge in team members to become more. A mind expanded by new ideas cannot shrink back. The ability to learn is something which supports organisational transformation. Not developing people leads to sclerosis of attitudes which is a killer when an organisation enters new territory. Agile learners, according to researchers from Columbia University, stand out in particular for their resilience, calm, and ability to remain at ease and are:

“continually able to jettison skills, perspectives and ideas that are no longer relevant, and learn new ones that are,”

Ecology: Ecology is about relationships. Relationships are the most important survival factor to human existence both on a personal level and with the world at large. Close, supportive relationships are a source of great joy and they’re very beneficial when life is not so great. Gallup considers close and supportive relationships at work key to significantly boosting engagement. Tom Rath, Gallup’s Global Practice Leader says:

“Our favourite moments, jobs, groups, and teams revolve around friendships with other people.”

As effectiveness author, Dr Stephen Covey believed:

“Interdependence is ten times more challenging than independence, but it the only viable long-term solution for effectiveness in our relationships at work and at home”

Strategist Max McKeown supports this view believing that corporate strategy is only useful when people support the company in its efforts. So without great relationships, a leader’s effectiveness in influencing the team and the organisation’s performance and productivity is greatly stifled.
I prefer to work with a client in a collaborative fashion. I find if potential clients don’t, then the work will not be as fulfilling and they won’t get the best of me.

Developing Your Organisation’s DNA Profile

Developing a company’s DNA profile helps with many different aspects of running and scaling a successful business.

An entrepreneur might start a business because they spotted an opportunity in the marketplace and exploited it. That’s innovation.

The fact that the entrepreneur has been successful means that the universe has decided their venture was useful so kept the fledgling business alive. That’s evolution.

Everything has inherent meaning in the universe even if the entrepreneur didn’t know or care at that point. That changes.

To scale the business it becomes important to describe the business in a way that piques people’s interest and attracts a loyal following. The best way to do that is to educate, entertain and engage people, whilst they communicate to the world what they do, how they achieve their results and why it’s a good idea to be clients, collaborate with and serve this organisation.

In the post-recession world, people are also interested in knowing what the company’s philosophy is, what’s important to them in the way they do business and what the vision for the company in the future is.

The mission is the next big step the leader wants to achieve and doesn’t necessarily need to be communicated to the outside world because it will change over time. The mission is chunked down into the strategy, what will be produced, with performance goals (habitual behaviours) and achievement goals (milestones) along the way. One might never completely achieve the purpose, and that’s okay. It’s a legacy.

The challenge is that there is a lot of confusion about what each aspect actually is. If leaders or entrepreneurs don’t fully understand their organisation’s DNA, they will be running an operation that hasn’t fully tapped into the passion and potential of its people. This negatively affects its customers and the bottom line. It can also lead to a lot confusion in decision making. You can find your top talent spending time on less than optimum behaviours.

 

The benefits of spending time on creating your organisation’s DNA profile include:
• It creates a buzzEvolve's DNA profile
• Attracts the top talent
• Enhances your pitching process
• Boosts engagement
• Develops an effective culture
• Empowers people to make decisions
• Builds equity in the business
• Unleashes passion and unlocks potential
• Increases creativity and innovation
• Creates brand loyalty… and much more…