In part 1 of this blog, I raised some questions about the need to change our approach to leadership during and beyond this coronavirus crisis to nurture and sustain the quality of organisations’ climates. In so doing, I revisited some of organisational psychology’s foundational theories, notably the work of Kurt Lewin. In this second part, focusing on Lewin’s seminal environment formula that avers behaviour to be a function of personality and situation, I explore why understanding one’s own and your employees’ personality is so important to creating a healthy climate.
A leadership transition may at first seem like an onerous prospect. Especially if it involves a complete change of role, a relocation – or both. However in reality, with the right planning and coaching support, it can turn into an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience.
Over recent years the majority of my one-to-one work has been coaching for leadership transition. In 2018/19 I had the privilege of working with Susan Hunter. I was supporting her in her transition from Senior Global Director Operational Excellence to Managing Director at APM Terminals Bahrain. From a senior job at the centre of the business to a key P&L leadership role in the Khalifa Bin Salman Port in Bahrain. Quite a transformation in many ways. Most of our coaching sessions were conduction via Skype. The exception being an initial face-to-face session in London and my visit to Bahrain to meet Susan’s senior leadership team.
In this article I ask Susan to share her leadership transition coaching experience. I am most grateful to Susan for the taking the time in her busy schedule to answer my interview questions.
This is the third article in the series. Last year I wrote similar articles about Peter Drake’s and James Wroe’s leadership transition experiences, and the role that coaching played. In his article Active Leadership Onboarding James shared the six key factors that ensure a new colleague’s successful leadership transition.
Are you relying on the “scientific evidence”?
Social media displays countless articles about managing teams dislocated from their normal, intact work location to working from home. Many offer novel suggestions to deal with the novel virus. However, do they fall into one of three less effective categories of “science” (or research), namely popularist, puerile or pedantic, see Figure (1) below.
As a card-carrying member of the extrovert club, I’m not really loving the lockdown.
I’m not suggesting that many of us are but I’m guessing that my more introverted colleagues are having a little less of a challenge coming to terms with the new normal…
When this began there was distraction in the challenge of decamping a function to a multitude of homes, ensuring the tech worked and overcoming all the initial problems COVID19 was throwing at us.
This very quickly gave way to an overindulgence in Doritos – apparently, they aren’t one of my five a day – and a propensity for a little too much alcohol despite the mantra/justification of “well it’s five o’clock somewhere”.
By about week three my motivation was all over the place, as were my moods, and I wasn’t breaking any productivity records either. I’d put on weight, so the self-loathing had begun, and we were facing the prospect of another two months of virus inflicted groundhog days. I can’t say I fancied my chances…
So, what to do? Well, there’s an old Buddhist maxim that “the path to true enlightenment begins by returning to the place you never left”. So, that’s what I did. I sat, with me, and tried to figure out what I needed to get through this and how that might look.
Here’s what I found when I got there…
The curse of the virus
“May you live in interesting times,” states the Chinese curse. Courtesy of a global pandemic that arose in Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei, we certainly are. (Conspiracy theorists may counter that America introduced the virus covertly into China, see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/12/conspiracy-theory-that-coronavirus-originated-in-us-gaining-traction-in-china.) The world is in lockdown. Even President Trump has had to backtrack from saying it was a non-event and all would be sorted by Easter to saying things are going to get far worse. The picture of the huge US navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, entering New York harbour is deeply dispiriting.
The case for sticky coaching
Many businesses expect to increase their spending on coaching in the coming years, both on external coaches and on developing their own internal coaches. It’s no surprise then to find that conversations are increasingly turning to how we can make sure that coach training, whether as a formal, ‘pre-contracted’ activity or as a more ad hoc approach to unlocking potential and improving performance, ‘sticks’. At NG Bailey we’re no different. Over recent years we’ve taken four steps that are starting to make a real difference in our quest for sticky coaching; I’d like to share them with you.
There seems to be no shortage of books, articles, advice and wisdom on leadership styles and the characteristics of good leaders. Yet it seems that one small, but valuable, behaviour is often missing – or at best limited in practise. Particularly during organisational change and development. Getting down on the shop floor.
In using an analogy : when our son was small he often demanded that at playtime we, his family, ‘get down on the floor’ and join him on the family-room carpet in whatever he was playing with at that moment: making castles from wooden bricks, building Lego or Brio trains or simply drawing…
Of course a small child’s world operates at that level and that we, as grown-ups, in encouraging play, fun and learning engaged with our son in his world, at his level.
Is there a parallel to ‘getting down on the floor’ with staff in the workplace? From experiences over the years it seems there is. Its getting down on the shop floor!
T is for training
Does training (or L&D) activity add value? Is there a return on the investment, if, indeed, the C-suite regards it as such rather than an expensive, preferably avoidable cost? An article entitled “The Great Training Robbery”, published by Harvard Business School, merits reading during the festive season, see https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/16-121_bc0f03ce-27de-4479-a90e-9d78b8da7b67.pdf. It says US firms spend something like $165 BILLION on “development” of which 90% generates NO performance uplift within 12 months.
The new vogue of e-training commoditises learning into read this, watch this, listen to this, do this tick-box exercises. This may satisfy compliance but the learning cycle of acquisition, assimilation and application of new knowledge does not complete a full cycle. The old practice of discussing expectations of performance uplift before undertaking any training, reviewing and committing to them immediately afterwards then subsequently tracking progress appears to be a redundant managerial practice. Is it all too humdrum?
Might that have something to do with the job descriptions including leading the team and growing its capability as the last in the list of objectives – see my previous blog (letter S)?
A leadership transition may at first seem an onerous prospect; however in reality, with the right planning and coaching support, it will turn into an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience.
Over recent years the majority of my one-to-one work has been coaching for leadership transition. In 2019 I had the privilege of working with Peter Drake. I was supporting him in his transition from General Manager to a Director role at A.P. Moller – Maersk North Europe Liner Operations Centre in Rotterdam. He certainly approached this with commitment and a great deal of enthusiasm. Most of our coaching sessions were conduction via Skype. The exception being one face-to-face session in August.
In this article I ask Peter to share his leadership transition experience and the role that coaching played. I am most grateful to Peter for the thoughtfulness and depth of his replies to my interview questions.
This is the second article in the series. Earlier this year I wrote a similar article about James Wroe’s leadership transition experience, and the role that coaching played. In his article Active Leadership Onboarding James shared the six key factors that ensure a new colleague’s successful leadership transition.
As we reach the end of the year, the decade even, the opportunity to blog also presents the opportunity to reflect – and what a year it’s been!
We seem to be ever more at odds in our society, our politics, our lives, with the main casualty seemingly being truth – who knew fake news would be a thing?
And, as I’ve touched on before, we’re further away than ever from the “dream” existence that we’ve been sold.
When the overriding emotions in society seem to be fear, or worse still, hate we’re one heck of a long way from Kansas, Toto. So, what to do?
I guess in most instances, the standard procedure is to mourn the lack of leadership in our society and call for a new type of leader, who can rise above the pettiness, but what if that leader – those leaders – already exist?