An ideas exchange about what makes leadership at all levels in an organisation really work.
Author: Ricardo Mock
Africa 24/7 Marine Manager at Maersk Line, Cape Town.
Psychologist, Certified Crossfit Trainer, Health Coach and Motivator.
Experience working in Project Management (Operations, Human Resources and Sales), innovation driving change.
Specialties: Project Management, Sales, General Operations, Lean Six Sigma (LSS GB Certified), ERP´s implementation and Change Management.
MBTI Profile: ENFP-T
I feel that now our team looks like that Boy Scout patrol I used to lead during my childhood: we worked hard, we laughed a lot and we would get things done.
I haven’t written in a while because we have been busy putting something together that dazzles me everyday and now when all is starting to make sense, I am writing again. We have such a great group of people that I do not even know who is leading. Everyday I show up to work and there is a continuous 360 degrees feedback session.
When I was a boy, I spent a long-time being part of an organization founded by Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, the Boys Scouts movement. There were some practices that until now just made sense to me like each troop was divided into patrols formed by 8 members. These patrols adopted names from animals that represented the spirit of the team. They participated in all types of competitions, but there were never individual competitions. When one competed, you were always representing your patrol, a group who always walked with the leader up front and the sub leader at the back to ensure that we all moved at the same speed and no one was left behind. I feel that now our team looks like that patrol I used to lead during my childhood: we worked hard, we laughed a lot and we would get things done.
We are living in difficult times. A lot of reflection on what is right and what is wrong is happening at the moment. We have started questioning ourselves about our ways and what we can do better. During my high school years, I was a very enthusiastic basketball player. By enthusiastic I mean that I played every day but was never a good player. I struggled most of the time, so I spent most of my basketball ‘career’ in fixing mode. My coach constantly told me “when things are not going well, go back to the basics and you will find the solution”. A couple of months ago, I decided to go back to the basics and reflect on how I could add value to the people around me.
I grew up in a big family of 5 brothers. My mother, our commander in chief, was the one in charge of keeping us in line. She was the one who took the social risk of taking the hard and unpopular decisions that we would only understand once we became adults and were able to look back and see the benefits of these decisions. There was no democracy in my house and we did not vote for her to lead us. She was not taking decisions to get more votes in the next election or to raise acceptance ratings either!
In a democratic government, before most decisions are taken, the impact of the acceptance ratings is considered. This is in normal situations. Right now though, our world is enduring the COVID19 pandemic and the preservation of human life has taken preference over government popularity for the first time in history. We are living in a unique time where we have the opportunity to see our world leaders show leadership, some of them for the first time in their lives. We still do not know how this crisis will end but when it ends, what if we all decide to change our ways at the same time and we start taking the social risk of proposing hard and unpopular decisions?
I have been
fortunate enough to be part of a company that keeps transforming constantly at
a pace that keeps everyone embracing change as a normal part of evolution. During this evolution I have been surrounded
at all levels by brilliant and energetic colleagues who have contributed to my
growth in so many ways.
I have never been good at embracing my story, but when I lost my mother, I started reflecting on my time with her and how she influenced me. By looking back at these memories, I encountered a feeling of passion for what I do and how relevant I can be for the stories of those around me.
By getting to know people’s passion you will understand the value of what they bring to the team.
I was attending a town hall (meeting) and one of the topics being covered was safety. In shipping, safety plays a major role in our work. Usually, these talks are pretty straight forward, more about following processes. The speaker threw a question at us that got me thinking. He asked us, “who should get the recognition, the firefighter who puts out the fire or the safety inspector who prevents it?”. Later that night, I continued to reflect on this question over a glass of wine and realized that both sides had strong points. The firefighter needs to perform under severe stress which is needed in high performing teams, but the security inspector’s dependability saves a lot of time and resources. In conclusion, both roles are needed when you assemble a team, but I was not yet satisfied with this reflection and continued to think about it for a week as I felt that I was missing something.
Then it hit me one night. What if I spent time talking to the firefighter and the safety inspector in order to understand more about why they do what they do and what motivates them to do it every day? By getting to know their passion I will understand the true value that they add to the team.
I am a proud Panamanian who was blessed with the opportunity to live in South Africa for almost 4 years as an expat and can say that understanding their national identity was confusing in the beginning, interesting during the process and fulfilling when I felt like a South African. Nothing that you learn about South Africa and Mr. Mandela from overseas can prepare you for this magnificent experience. I have never seen any group of people with so many differences coming together for one common goal: The Rugby World Cup. After experiencing the Springboks (this is what they call the South African rugby national team) winning the 2019 World Cup, every little piece of knowledge about the country’s identity came together and taught me a great lesson about leadership.
One crucial part of attracting good into our life is to develop a personal brand. I have found words that are commonly associated with a good personal brand. Words like driver, leader, reliable, efficient, effective and getting things done.
Several years ago, I was undergoing a coaching certification training course that had an important and continues to have an important impact on my continuous evolution. During this time, I was introduced to a statement that took me some years to digest: We are responsible for everything that happens to us. Then I realized that for most of my life I have been playing victim and making other people responsible for my own tragedies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that we can control everything that happens to us, but I do believe that we have more control over our lives than we acknowledge. One crucial part of attracting good into our life is to develop a personal brand. Over the years, I have been reflecting on this and found words that are commonly associated with a good personal brand. Words like driver, leader, reliable, efficient, effective and getting things done. I would invest great effort into adding these words to my personal brand.
I grew up in a big family and our mother worked during the
day and at night she went to college. A
true example of dedication and passion for what she believed in. So, you can imagine that there was little
time for her to investigate what each of her 4 sons were passionate about. We
all went to baseball summer league, boy scouts, karate and were part of the swimming
team. I did not enjoy most of them but
staying at home in front of the television was not an option. My mom believed in hard work and if you were
not good at something, hard work would pay off.
And it did but I did not enjoy it. As I got older and started making my
own decisions, I did not pursue any of those activities. I only realised years
later the benefits of my mother pushing us to be dedicated to everything we
Over the years I have had the wonderful opportunity of
facilitating brainstorming sessions. One
of my favourite tools to use, is Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats
Method. Our behaviour, not our words, is
the reflection of who we are. Six
Thinking Hats is a brilliant tool to structure in an objective way to include the
input from the individuals participating in the session and can give insight
into the reflection of their personalities.
The method refers to six hats that when we “wear them” we are obligated
to think in a specific way. The blue hat
is the leader hat that will control the discussion and the ground rules (only the
facilitator will wear this hat during the entire exercise), the white hat
requires pure objectivity and data driven comments, the red hat is our emotions
and how we feel about the exercise, the yellow hat is for positive thinking,
the black hat is for negative thinking or challenges we encounter during the
solution process and the green hat is for innovative thinking or often referred
to as “out of the box thinking”.
What follows are a few social conclusions that I have found in this exercise that relates to the teams’ general behaviour.
Nothing brings me more of a sense of accomplishment than looking at one of our blue vessels sail out of Cape Town Terminal just in time before the storm comes. It just feels right!
I am a proud Panamanian. We are happy people that generally like to have a good time. We usually tend to disconnect from our reality by partying over the weekend. We are in essence, positive by nature. Recently, Panama qualified for their first FIFA World Cup. Our performance during this tournament was more than disappointing, but we were the happiest fans in Russia! Other countries lost in the semi-finals and it was considered a national tragedy. This Panamanian way will definitely make our lives more enjoyable but won’t create radical changes needed to take us out of a third world mindset and stop the corruption cycle that has been the trademark of our governments going back decades.