No-one could have predicted the situation we’re currently in, and it’s probably evoking lots of uncomfortable feelings – I know it is for me. I’ve also heard some wonderful stories of how people are supporting and taking care of each other, whether that’s at work or at home.
Being a leader is complex, especially at a time like this. How can you show vulnerability and make it psychologically safe for people to speak up, yet also show confidence and strength so those same people can rely on you to provide a safe harbour?
One could argue this is simply good leadership, albeit magnified at the moment! So, this article comprises some thoughts for you to consider around how to support your team during this time.
Building on my previous two articles about what makes a great CEO (remember, the insights apply to all of us), this month’s newsletter takes a key skill – good judgement – and examines it in more detail. Some of the insights are based on interviews with CEOs in many different companies conducted by Sir Andrew Likierman, a professor at London Business School, and detailed recently in the Harvard Business Review. I’ve added my own perspective based on my experience of coaching individuals and leadership teams over the years.
In part 1 of this article, I wrote about the first three elements of excellent CEOs identified by McKinsey. This month, you can discover the other three. As before, I believe many of these insights apply to leaders, not just CEOs.
This month’s article was inspired by some research by McKinsey called: “The mindsets and practices of excellent CEOs“. I’ve added my own advice to help you kickstart your 2020; even though the research focuses on CEOs, much of the insight can apply to other leaders and professionals too. I hope it gets you thinking about how you might like to refresh your mindset and practices.
McKinsey looked at the six main elements of the job:
- Setting the strategy
- Aligning the organisation
- Leading the top team
- Working with the board
- Being the face of the company to external stakeholders
- Managing your own time and energy
They summarise this with the diagram below, with the optimal mindset and practices for each element of the role. So, for example, setting the corporate strategy is best done with a mindset of “Focus on beating the odds”, with three practices to complement this around Vision, Strategy and Resource Allocation.
We look at the first three of these below; I’ve picked out the elements I believe will be of most value, and help you set the spark into a new decade at work. Next month, we’ll consider the other three.
Everything you do sets/affects the tone for your team(s) and colleagues. So, if you are in a rut about the way you do your job, read on!
As you may know, one of the most popular TED talks of all time is by Brené Brown about vulnerability.
Her latest book, Dare to Lead, was published in 2018 and builds on much of her research on vulnerability – she expands on this theme and describes what it looks like in a leadership context. I found it packed with rich content and lots of checklists, (although you’ll need to create your own checklist for all the checklists :-)), so it’s worth getting if you want to dig a little deeper. Meanwhile, it inspired the ideas in this article which I hope you find useful.
In today’s society, we no longer live in big family groups. When family and friends live far away, the people we would usually turn to are not easily available. Instead, workmates can be a big source of support. However, death is a topic we don’t often talk about at work.
When someone has lost a loved one, their colleagues can feel uncomfortable, and it can be hard to know what to do or say. As a result, they may keep quiet about it.
This article gives you some ideas about how you can support a grieving colleague, whether you’re their line manager or a concerned workmate.
If you have suffered a loss and had support that you found particularly helpful, I’d love to hear from you. I will collate any responses and write an update to this article so we can learn from you (I will assume you wish to be anonymous unless you tell me otherwise). Thank you!
“Even the darkest nights will end and the sun will rise.”
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!”
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.”
Organisation design is evolving, and traditional hierarchical models are no longer sufficient on their own.
This article links to last month’s topic How to design an agile organisation; however, the format is a little different. This time, I’ve interviewed Nicholas Creswell, who leads talent and development for the global technology organisation at Thomson Reuters (TR). We met at an event where he explained how internal networks can make your organisation more effective.
After the Q&A with Nicholas are some practical tips you can apply in your own organisation.
When there’s a need to discuss important and complex issues, most people try to meet face to face. Especially with a global team, it’s a really important part of maintaining relationships and commitment to the team and your objectives.
Face-to-face meetings typically get better results, especially when you need to work on something complicated, build commitment to an outcome or to each other, or co-create something such as a vision or mission statement. This is because we’re social creatures – we’re human beings, not human doings! It’s much easier to pick up on each other’s cues and get into the flow when we’re face to face.
However, it’s not always practical for everyone to get together in the same place at the same time. Thanks to technological advances, it is now possible to use video for team meetings, with group conference calls as the next best thing. On those occasions, you might turn to virtual facilitation instead.