Our lives are so busy these days that it can be hard to find quiet time to rest, reflect and plan. In fact, being busy is praised rather than considered to be a problem. Many of us suffer from ‘busy mind syndrome’, where we get stressed and caught up in our thinking. As a result, we can’t easily make a decision about the best way forward. All this has a negative effect on our mental health.
Rather than giving you practical tips that are even more things to add to your ‘to do’ list, this article talks about a different way of being. It describes a philosophy of life that involves thinking less, so you can be more.
As you read it, concentrate on feeling how you respond. In a way, it’s about heart, not head. In line with the philosophy itself, you don’t need to think about it for hours and days and weeks and months afterwards. But – if the content soaks in and resonates with you – you might find this approach instantly or eventually reframes how you approach life and work events, and so reduces your stress and increases your mental health.
Shelle Rose Charvet has recently updated her bestselling book about the language of influence, Words that Change Minds. It is based on research across more than 30 countries since the mid-1990s, and was recently picked by Forbes as one of their best management books for entrepreneurs and executives.
The book helps you understand where people focus their attention by listening to the patterns of language they use. You can then adapt your own language accordingly, to collaborate and/or lead, and get the results that work for everyone.
To get people to go somewhere with you, you have to meet them where they are… Go to their bus-stop, and from their bus-stop, invite them to let the bus take them where you want them to be.
This article explores some of the concepts that might be useful when you are:
- Trying to motivate and influence people
- Considering who to have on your team, and the optimal mix of approach/style
- Developing your team members
- Leading your team, and embracing the strengths, diversity and needs of each individual to achieve great outcomes
- Deciding how best to allocate work between people
- Determining the best way to manage change
The world is changing fast and our lives are much more complex than they used to be. People in senior roles are making decisions about things that haven’t happened before, and without the comfort of having all the facts. Because of Artificial Intelligence, jobs are being created that don’t exist today, and today’s jobs won’t exist tomorrow.
In a VUCA* world like this, the only way to be is more human – to bring all of who you are to work, and let go of your fears.
I’ve recently completed certification training on an inside-out tool that helps leaders and teams to do just this. Building on a model by Kegan on the stages of adult development, the Leadership Circle Profile (LCP) looks at what an effective agile leader embodies. Some of my clients are already using this tool as the basis of their leadership and cultural transformation to evolve to a new way of being in this VUCA world.
This article gives you food for thought to help you develop a deeper understanding of these principles. It is linked to my previous two articles: Agile Organisations, and Agile teams and completes the trio to help you develop and thrive.
*VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. The term was first used in 1987 by the US Army War College, drawing on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus after the Cold War. An article in Harvard Business Review paraphrased it as: “Hey, it’s crazy out there!”
Agility is a key theme in business at the moment. Last month, I wrote about How (and why) to be an agile organisation. This time, we look at the components of an effective agile team, and the role of the leader in enabling agile teams.
Agile teams come together to work on something special, and stay together for a reasonable period of time. They might go on to work on another problem, or develop the idea they’ve come up with. Don’t confuse this with scrum teams. As I explained in my recent article How to get a scrum team up and running, these get in, do the work and disband, so they only stay together for a short time.
As mentioned in last month’s article about Artificial Intelligence, the world of work is continuously evolving. This demands that we all operate in a more agile way.
Being an agile organisation is a competitive differentiator. Not many organisations have completely transformed, although some are moving towards it. For example one of my clients is introducing agility in a big way. They’re transforming the way they work and disrupting the traditional ways of operating. Some organisations haven’t started yet, particularly those who are strongly wedded to hierarchy. But, if they don’t keep up, their business will disappear like Kodak and other big names who are no longer trading.
This article looks at the key factors to become more agile at the organisational level, some of the things you’ll need to let go, and the mindset you’ll need to embrace (especially if you’ve been working in the traditional way for ten years or more).
Much of this month’s content is contributed by one of my clients, Fraser McCallum. Fraser has a background in molecular pharmacology but has been working in pharmacovigilance, the science of monitoring the safety of medicines, for more than 20 years. Over the last few years, in discussion with many of his colleagues, he has dreamt of a future paradigm for pharmacovigilance, one powered by artificial intelligence. He is now Business Lead for Voyager, a program to deliver just such a future.
In this article, he looks into his crystal ball to explore the impact of artificial intelligence on the world of work.
Last month, we talked about Being your authentic self. In short, it’s about being who you are and being comfortable with that.
Authenticity can apply to organisations as well as individuals, particularly as we move further towards a world that’s run by technology. The danger is that the workplace becomes an impersonal environment that ignores the emotional and social needs we have as human beings.
How can you create a culture that embraces technology and enables people to be their authentic selves? This month’s article comprises two complementary ideas about how to be an authentic organisation.
What is authenticity?
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
Here’s my definition:
- Being honest with yourself about who you are
- Accepting and loving who you are
- Bringing all of who you are to your work and relationships, and accepting the vulnerability you may feel with that
If you can do all those things with confidence and humility, you’ll find that many people will respond positively to you.
This article explains more.
Research shows that when employees feel their work is meaningful and they are valued and supported, they tend to have higher wellbeing levels, be more committed to their organisation’s goals, and perform better too.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, wellbeing is defined as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.” In this article, we are assuming a broader definition, such as the one drafted by the New Economics Foundation: “how people feel and how they function, both on a personal and a social level, and how they evaluate their lives as a whole.”
There is clear evidence that shows a link between stress and cardio-vascular disease. Meanwhile, a poor diet full of sugar and fat suppresses your immune system. It’s also known that exercise promotes physical health and helps you get a good night’s sleep, which is a key factor in personal wellbeing. Organisations should aim to support both physical and mental wellbeing (traditionally the focus has been more on physical health, but visibility of the effect poor mental health is now increasing and starting to gain much-needed attention – see more on this at the end of this article).
When the well’s dry, we know the worth of the water.”
This month’s article was inspired by an incident that occurred recently, and a conversation with a client that followed. Here’s what happened.
A couple of weeks ago, I took my teenage daughter for her usual horse-riding lesson. It was a cold morning and I would be sitting outside watching, so I grabbed the first hat and scarf I found in the cupboard as I left the house.
At this, she complained: “Oh Muuuum, for once can you look normal and cool instead of old-fashioned?”
I laughed – frankly, nowadays my very existence is embarrassing to her!
Later, I shared this story with a client who said: “My daughter is the same with me. When we’re out clothes shopping, she insists on telling me what I ought to wear.”
We both like to think we dress in a modern way, but it occurred to us that maybe we’ve become stuck in our minds about what to wear. We used to be curious about what was in fashion, but somewhere along the way, we’ve lost that curiosity. Perhaps fashion isn’t important (unless you’re Karl Lagerfeld…) but a curious mindset is.