Us and Them

Silos are present in just about every organisation, sometimes they are physical as well as psychological. If they already exist, we tend to exacerbate silos with phrases like “if only they would do what they are meant to…” How do you go about removing some of what gets in the way? Tweet This Post Read More →

Are you listening to your employees?

There’s nothing quite so demotivating as sending people the message that their ideas and insights are not welcome. What stops your employees from speaking up? How can you find out? Tweet This Post Read More →

Whose elephant is it anyway?

Excuse me, did you know there’s an elephant on your back? It appears to be controlling you, please put it down. The metaphor of carrying an elephant that only others can see (and we ignore or are unaware of) is for that stuff which, in the drama of a working relationship, appears to be just too big to discuss. I drew this illustration while attempting to make sense of some experiences of conversational awkwardness within organisations. The... [Read More...]

What leadership behaviours will make your organisational change a success?

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What’s My Motivation?

When looking for possible explanations of human behaviour, we often revert to models of humanism or systems theory, which can tend towards overemphasising individual autonomy or environmental factors respectively.  Iain Mangham advocates the dramaturgical model, which allows for the reciprocity inherent in our interactions – ‘it is the person who creates or sustains the influences to which [they are] to some degree subject’.  This model suggests... [Read More...]

To Be A Hero…

Everyone loves a hero.  In the ultimate hour of need the hero appears, saves the day, gets the plaudits and sleeps soundly in the knowledge that the world appreciates them.  A very attractive role, if you get the chance to play it. The benefits are numerous and immediate – an adrenaline rush, exposure in a flattering light, positive feedback, instant gratification.  In a business context, there are further benefits – the normal rules of bureaucracy... [Read More...]

A Leadership Dilemma

A situation that seems to be impossible to act upon because it contains two opposing commitments. Tweet This Post Read More →

Strategic narrative: the original engagement anecdote

“I’m putting a man on the moon!” What makes a strategic narrative compelling? We all know this Kennedy anecdote, but what was it that made these employees proud of their contribution and inspired to play their part? In 1961 Kennedy told the world that USA would put a man on the moon and bring home back safely by the end of the decade. Somehow this compelling story inspired people to act to overcome the impossible and gave them a clear vision... [Read More...]

Change?!

How can you possibly engage people when they feel like this? When change is done to people rather than with them they feel paralysed. What happens in your organisation? Tweet This Post Read More →

What is ownership?

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Raft of Leadership

“A person, who no matter how desperate the situation, gives others hope, is a true leader.” ― Daisaku Ikeda Tweet This Post Read More →

Could you drop your armour?

A common theme we have been noticing recently is a want or a need to shift to a different style of leadership. This new way is dialogical, open and all about collaboration. It is a huge shift and with it comes the challenge of what it really means to transition to this new way of being. The implication is that it means taking a risk, and going into the unknown. In this shift how easy is it to throw off your protective armour and be ok with being... [Read More...]

Karl Weick, Tom Peters and the Bias for Action

I’m a big fan of Karl Weick.  So too, it turns out, is Tom Peters, who was heavily influenced by him when he co-authored In Search of Excellence (still as far as I know the best-selling business book of all time). Weick’s work centres around the concept of sensemaking i.e. what people do when they clearly need to take action, but the meaning of the situation is unclear. Weick realised that heavy strategic planning in these situations is... [Read More...]

Are there some things that money can’t buy?

Today, almost everything is up for sale. So says Michael J Sandel in his book “What money can’t buy”. The question is, says Sandel, do we want to live like this? Are there some things where it just isn’t appropriate to pay money for them? How about buying a prison cell upgrade (apparently a nicer sell costs you $82 a night in Santa Ana, California)? Or buying the right to shoot an endangered black rhino (yours for $150,000 in South Africa)? Sandel... [Read More...]

When demand exceeds supply

What happens in the workplace when demand suddenly exceeds supply? Behaviours and processes can change when there’s pressure to find a solution quickly – the effects of which may only become apparent later. And what if that limited resource happens to be you? Tweet This Post Read More →

How can we nurture a safe place to be able to speak?

I am sitting in a meeting and there is silence from everyone but the leader of the session. They have asked a question and no-one is answering, why? When I think of my own experiences, when I don’t feel able to speak it is a very physical response to something that is unconsciously in the room. My voice literally cannot be pulled from me. It builds and swells deep in my stomach, but will go no further. A friend describes his as stopping in his... [Read More...]

The pace of transformation

Reading about the recent National Audit Office’s report on the Government’s Major Projects recently made me think about why some big programmes still fail despite clear vision, competent programme teams and a clear case for change. One recurrent theme seems to be about pace, and the organisation’s ability to mobilise at the speed that the leaders think is feasible and possible.  There seems to be a difference in expectations and almost a surprise... [Read More...]

Change doesn’t start with you…

…it starts with me We often hear our clients expressing the view that unless their leadership team embodies the kinds of behaviours they say are needed for the organization to change, then that change just won’t happen. It’s true. The inability of leaders to ‘walk the talk’ is one of the root causes of employee disengagement because, quite rightly, people see their leaders asking them to do something they’re not willing to do themselves.... [Read More...]

The management merry-go-round: An employee perspective on restructuring

I was talking once to a railway worker who described his life in one of the UK’s railway franchises:  Every so often a new franchise owner would bring in a new set of excited managers to play with the railway set, but the railway set itself never fundamentally changed.  This guy had been doing the same job for forty years since the days of British Rail, and the rotation of management every few years was just a part of life. A second example:... [Read More...]

Is social media a faustian bargain?

I use my iphone, facebook, email and text all day most days, so I can’t say Im a luddite. I sometimes wonder how could I live without it. When one is so embedded in something it is often no longer possible to objectiviely critique it anymore. In conversations about the merits of social media, I am curious about what it might rob us of, and try to articulate my unease with it. this often meets with cries of “unbeliever”! I can’t... [Read More...]

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