Do you have the ear lobes for leadership?

The problem with clever people I was lucky enough to see Rob Goffee speak recently. Rob is a professor at London Business School and became famous with the publication of his HBR article, and subsequent book, Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? He says that thinking about leadership has completely missed the point. I think he’s right. He points out that, in today’s knowledge economy, organisations depend on clever people with expertise (he calls them ‘clevers’) who are often: Unimpressed by hierarchy (they value cleverness more than position) Organisationally savvy (and don’t want to be led) Resistant to feedback (and won’t thank you for doing the right things, either) Hard to replace (and they know it) Bored easily (and ask difficult questions) They expect instant access (to you and to other clever people) In this world, the work of leadership changes. In the old world, leadership was focussed on making individuals more valuable to organisations through concepts like productivity, motivation and engagement. In the new world leaders are faced with the task
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Categories: Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, Tools and Techniques, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Look Behind You!

How can facing out into the organisation be a mistake for HR?    Happy New Year! I hope 2016 brings you success, enjoyment and learning in all that you do. “Look behind you!” I know pantomime season is all but over, but HR professionals would do well to heed the classic refrain. While you’re working incredibly hard to make your people initiatives work, you’ll know that you’re battling all sorts of problems and opposition to their success. Ironically though, the biggest barrier to success is much closer to home than you might think. There’s a paradox for anyone in an HR role. The harder you try to make your HR projects deliver, the less attention you’re likely to be paying to the single biggest determinant of their success of failure. For people interventions to make the change that’s needed, you need the active (and aligned) support of the most senior leaders in the organisation. In short, an ineffective top team is the key barrier to delivering a meaningful people agenda, so
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Delivery Conversations, Learning Conversations, Making the Value Case, Relationship Conversations, Stories and Case Studies, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Polishing Fish

The futility of New Year’s Resolutions Most of us fall into one of two categories. Some of us still make resolutions at this time of year, with genuine intentions but very little optimism. Others don’t make resolutions, mainly because we know that we almost always fail. I’ve long been puzzled about why you’d choose the first of January over any other date to make changes in your life. Sure, it’s the start of a new year but, if you’re serious about the change then why have you waited until then? More importantly, what makes you think that you can change alone?     Independence Day? None of us are independent entities. Our environment shapes our behaviour, our thoughts and even our beliefs. You’d think differently about smoking, eating or drinking if you were sitting amongst starving refugees in a camp escaping a war zone. It’s an extreme example, I know, but it illustrates the point. Each of us is enmeshed in a web of relationships. These relationships play an important part
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Categories: Changing Your Team and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Teambuilding – the enemy of team development

I had a frustrating, but familiar, experience recently. The head of training of a large international client called me. She was planning an off-site day for the leadership team and wanted some help to design and facilitate it. As usual, I asked her a number of questions about their context, people and the purpose of the event. Alarm bells started ringing as her answers revealed that the objectives of the day were far from clear. The only thing she was clear about was some items from the HR agenda – and she had little idea what business benefits the CEO wanted to achieve. She did, however, have a number of clear requirements about the design. It was to be a single day and she wanted ‘creative outdoor exercises’ to be central to the approach.  She explained that team members had been disengaged at past such meetings so they wanted to ‘liven it up’ to keep people’s interest! She didn’t know why they might have been bored at previous past events…
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Is leadership fun for you?

One of the responses I received to last month’s edition was an email from a former colleague. He asked me about what role I thought ‘fun’ had to play in leadership and leadership teams. It got me thinking… The word ‘fun’ is difficult for many leaders as it can be seen as implying frivolity which doesn’t sit well with the gravity of responsibility in leadership roles. Let’s, then, talk about how rewarding the experience of leadership is – and the role it plays both in delivering results and also in enabling each leader to give of their best.   Leaders’ experience today Few leaders I meet are enjoying their jobs. Most are working too hard, frustrated at the pace of progress and worn down by the daily grind of eking out even small incremental gains in a hostile business environment – from what feels like an unresponsive organisation. Worse still, the impression I get from many leaders is that this is what they expect. They feel that this is what
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Categories: Making the Value Case.