Tuesday, 29 April 2014

What makes a great leader?

I’ve taken the inspiration for this blog post from another TED talk, this time from Roselinde Torres, all about what makes a great leader.

Torres takes time to ask some very pertinent and topical questions within the opening lines of her speech – the ones that particularly struck a chord for me were:

  •        Are leadership programmes preparing people for the future or what’s been there before?
  •        Why are leadership gaps widening despite growing investment?

She continues by talking about the false positives that are created by using the traditional leadership measures (360, leadership engagement indexes etc.) – a great point and thought for the those in this development field for what the future measurements need to look like.  Using the same measure year on year might give you consistency for comparison but it hardly moves with the changing environment we’re all in.

On the programmes point, controversially for some I have often struggled to see the value in leadership programmes that are either ‘sheep dip’ experiences for large groups of people or designed way ahead of time of knowing what a group’s collective needs are – why jump the gun and assume what a group might need when you could end up completely disengaging a massive chunk of your audience? On the flip side, I’ve also seen brilliant examples of modules and full programmes that have been delivered and had a lasting impact, but they’re always made up of multiple ‘interventions’, have been thoughtfully pulled together with a clear purpose and consists of ways of making the development stick once the course has been completed.

Roselinde positions that there are 3 questions that will help identify and expose great leadership.  As a question lover, these have really hit home with me:
  • Where are you looking to anticipate challenges? (i.e. who are you meeting with, where are you travelling, what’s in your calendar – remembering that great leaders see around corners!)
  •  What is the diversity measure of your network? (professional and personal, biology and thinking)
  • Are you courageous enough to move away from something that has made you successful in the past? (you don’t go along to get along, not just talking about risk taking but actually doing it)

Since watching this session, I’ve found myself asking these questions of myself and others around me to really pin down what I value in a leader and how I want my style and approach to change an evolve.  Next time you find yourself reviewing your direction and what you need to be developing, borrow these questions from Rosalinde and I’m certain when you’re honest with yourself you’ll find it enlightening and focusing!

Happy leading x

Friday, 11 April 2014

Are you doing what you love?

Strengths based development (and more recently recruitment) has been a personal passion and interest of mine for some time, so much so it’s running the risk of becoming my ‘wallpaper’ as I take for granted that not everybody uses or even understands this approach.  The sharp focus is back though, and so here comes my next post all about doing what you love.

There are bags of evidence out there about why people should use their strengths more in every aspect of their life – not just work, but home life too.  As a snap shot, it can boost someone’s confidence, give them higher levels of energy, make them more resilient or be more engaged with what they’re doing to name but a few outcomes.

My latest read on the strengths topic has come in the shape of ‘The Strengths Book’ from Capp.  I love the accessibility of the book and how it really shoots straight to the point about how to realise ‘the best of you’.  It explains the four quadrants of the model that is the heart of their approach – learned behaviours, weaknesses, realised strengths and unrealised strengths.  Learned behaviours being things that you perform well but you are de-energised or drained after doing them, weaknesses are then things that you perform poorly at and find de-energising or draining.  Your realised strengths are things which you perform well at find energising, and your unrealised strengths are things that you perform well at, find energising but don’t do very much. 

The book goes into detail about how to limit or make the most of each of the four aspects above as well as a breakdown of 60 strengths they use in their profiling, that I won’t go into, but I would thoroughly recommend giving the book a read – it’s so accessible and pragmatic as a tool but also as an on-going way of living.
So it leads me to one very simple question – are you spending time doing what you love? 

The answer might not be that simple for you, in fact I guess for most it could be a wakeup call so tread carefully with yourself – small changes could make the world of difference to you, this isn’t about having to drastically change your job overnight or what you spend your time doing, but there’s no time like the present to make positive changes to spend time doing things that make you happy.

Happy thinking x

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Having it all...

I spent a brilliant evening searching through TED talks recently, and as per usual it didn’t fail to disappoint. I came across this little gem from Anne-Marie Slaughter asking if men and women can ‘have it all’ and the barriers that are currently causing challenges. I loved how balanced it was, not just a ‘women in the workplace’ approach like so many of these kind of discussions can be. Whilst I think there is huge value in focusing on specific groups, I do think it’s beginning to have the opposite effect and creating a culture of resentment that people think they need to wear a skirt to get promoted, or even singled out for all the wrong reasons if you are a woman.

Anne-Marie shares her own personal experience about how a career change really made her face into what was important to her – not what she’d conditioned to be, but the actual bare faced reality of what she wanted from her life. What that meant for her was choosing family over a new role, instead of feeling like she had to move up the career ladder.

Slaughter positions that real equality doesn’t mean valuing women on male terms, but instead it’s a wide rand of equally respected choices for both groups. It’s about accepting that work traditionally done by either gender is just as important as the other, something which I feel is an incredibly powerful thought and a big challenge on our culture.

The biggest spark is when she questions how same sex couples should deal with situations that arise around work / family balance. The answer being that no matter how they answer it, it puts focus on work / family situations are a family issue rather than a gender issue – what a thought!

I won’t go into more detail about what Anne-Marie covers, but it’s well worth the watch for some refresh on thinking and a spotlight on what both sexes should be asking to change current culture. So I’ll leave you with these questions that have come to my mind since watching…

• What stereotypes are you reinforcing in the world?

• What one thing can you do to overcome them?

• What advice would you give to the next generation about what they can do?

Happy questioning x