Are you a natural leader, one your team happily follow to success, or is your position maintained by constant reminders that you’re in charge? A bossy boss – one who demands they are treated with authority – is never in a position of strength. The sole focus of a bossy boss is ‘I’ – the [...]
According to statistics released by HSE, in 2015/16, stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health. Stress in the workplace is a real threat to businesses, and a real concern for all business leaders. What can you do to support your workforce, and ensure that stress and anxiety aren’t damaging their performance or wellbeing, enabling them to enjoy their role? […]
When Shizuka Arakawa won the figure skating gold medal in the 2006 Olympic Games, her error free performance marked an achievement beyond the purely personal. The second oldest women to win a figure skating gold medal, she was also the first Asian women to do so. And she quite literally put something behind her on the way to this victory: her bottom, which she had landed on some 20,000 times on her long journey from beginner to Olympic champion. Though doing so may have lacked dignity, there is a valuable lesson in her example, as Geoff Colvin pointed out in less than gentlemanly fashion in his book, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else – “Landing on your butt twenty thousand times is where great performance comes from.” […]
[This blog post first appeared in the blog of the World of Learning Conference and Exhibition 2016: further details of this event appear at the end of this posting.] Audiences for leadership advice and guidance have a surprising appetite for simplicity. Despite ample evidence that workplaces, organisations and even that near meaningless phrase, ‘life in general’, are complex, ambiguous and more organic than systematic, it is the soundbite, the pull quote or the numbered list that grabs their attention. In the spirit of ‘giving them what they want’, therefore, a single sentence of advice about leading for creativity and innovation: Be the great leader you always wished you’d had. The hallmarks of the exceptional leader The attributes of the best workplace leaders are not a mystery. Exceptional leaders and managers share many characteristics: They spend time understanding those they lead so that they can inspire and motivate them They create a sense of shared purpose, gifting employees with a vision to provide focus and autonomy about its execution They use process to enable rather than to prevent, recognising that efficiency is not the only goal (and can misdirect efforts if over-pursued) They understand the potential synergy between diversity and collaboration They create space for people to pursue their passions, and ensure that they are resourced to succeed They understand the power of intrinsic motivation and create relationships and environments that encourage and develop it, offering recognition when and where it is due They encourage a ‘fail low, fail fast’ approach, helping people move on from the inevitability of failure rather than offering punishments that demotivate and disengage – They focus more energy on developing and encouraging others than on controlling them They understand the power of market disruption and prepare themselves to be agile enough to respond They manage the environment, atmosphere and team morale more than individual methods; they recognise that macro-management outperforms micro-management, and that checking in trumps checking up While these are attributes and behaviours that we would all like to see displayed more often, and by more leaders, there is one mystery than does need to be exposed. These are also the characteristics that most enhance and inspire creativity and innovation. […]
While dictionaries might define ‘managing’ as ‘succeeding in surviving or in achieving something despite difficult circumstances’, that is not a definition any organisation should wish to apply. ‘To manage’ must mean more than simply – somehow, despite everything – to cope. But what can organisations do to ensure their line managers do not feel as if their performance falls into the latter category?
Happy, committed and engaged people really do perform better at work, although there is – or at least one would hope – a difference between love and enthusiasm. I’m enthusiastic about Ajax FC, prawn toasts and historic monuments – I’m nothing if not single-handedly diverse - but none of these are relationships that I’m seeking to actively consummate. But what we might call ‘the happiness industry’ seems insistent on wanting to see the L-word as often as possible.
Mastery of a discipline (accepting the use of the term for HR) requires many skills, but also a sure-footed understanding of the raw materials and how to handle them. The raw materials of a Human Resources Manager are primarily, as the job title alludes, people. (Whether ‘human resources’ is a devaluing or derogatory way of describing them – or should I say ‘us’? – is a separate but not entirely unrelated point.) The raw materials of Big Data, by comparison, are more explicitly ‘in the title’: data. Quantitative measures. Numbers.
Sometimes, our thinking is so governed by habit – a mental checkbox list that we take comfort from – that it takes an unexpected reminder to sharpen our view. The otherwise inscrutably plotted Norwegian crime drama, Mammon (currently showing on Channel 4) provided such a moment in Episode 4. The widow of a mysterious suicide, having been threatened by gangsters who tried to blow her up in a remote cabin, reminded us that the really scared people here were not her and her journalist accomplice but the gangsters. After all, people who are entirely relaxed about things don’t, by and large, arm themselves to the teeth and commit multiple murders, but conditioning tell us that it’s the people running away from them who are the more frightened. Working life for most of us is, thankfully, less melodramatic, but pre-conditioned thinking is still rife – if usually not as (literally) fatal. The weapons pointed at us are almost always verbal, although they can still be debilitating. But one recent example of verbal aggression I did rather like – a LinkedIn article by Tim Winner, Director Of People at Metal Toad Media called simply Checklists don’t solve problems …People do. Here’s how it starts: […]
By its very nature, the whole concept of ‘fierce rivals’ implies an absence of loyalty, other than to the notion of defeating your opponent at any cost. Having constant competition (albeit that it is not quite synonymous with rivalry) could foster greater in-group cohesion if the group has collectively bought into the notion that they are competing intentionally and that a collective benefit can be gained (ie they relish the competition). The critical difference is of intention.
The ‘talent – born or made?’ debate is one of those L&D issues that resurfaces from time to time, although it’s not entirely clear in any empirical sense why this should be the case. Perhaps its longevity as an issue is something that we can chalk down to the power of belief: advocates of each side of the argument could be forgiven – or at least understood – for succumbing to the attractions of their case. One would hope, however, that those working as coaches, trainers, educators or developers might be more swayed by the ‘made’ argument. If not, there is more than a suggestion that they are denying the potential impact of their work – and potential is surely the critical word here – or tacitly abnegating responsibility.