HELP, a four letters word sometimes hard to say

HELP, a four letters word sometimes hard to say.

I was only 5 years old, (or at least that is as far as my memory goes), when for the first time, my parents said to me: “we are very proud of you”.

I would often hear that phrase whenever I got good grades, (I can proudly say it happened a lot 🙂 , if I had done something new, been good to my little sister, etc.

Growing up I would rarely ask for help with my homework, not to say that I never did, but honestly, I don’t remember asking.

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Viva la revolution!

The last time I blogged, I introduced you to “The 100 Year Life” a fantastic book, introducing a brave new world of longevity. Its theme being, that today’s youth can expect to live beyond 100 years of age – the key word there being expect – which in turn means our current three stage model of education, work, retire, is outdated.

The aim of my last missive was to ask how this impacts on our current leaders and what they need to do in order to flex their style and fit this new world order, focusing on an increase in empathy, the introduction of “strategic altruism” and the application of “beginners mind” to their thinking – if you missed it here’s a link.

But what about those who find themselves at the beginning of this journey? Can you imagine being an 18 year old faced with the prospect of living for another 80+ years? How do you even begin to think about planning to prepare for that?

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Work hard, work harder

Moving into Leadership

I’ve been working with a lot of professional services firms recently and have been struck by the leadership demands being made on people transitioning into very senior roles. Particularly those making partner.

The step up to partner is a huge one and the pressure people are under is immense.

Getting to partner means you’ve been a superstar on your way up. When you get there, however, you move from being at the top of the tree, to being back at the bottom. Like the new kid at big school, you are now having to fight for yourself as the buck now quite literally stops with you.

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Leading for Longevity

I’m reading a fantastic book at the minute – and by fantastic, I mean terrifying! It’s called “The 100 Year Life” and as the title suggests it deals with the fact that our every increasing longevity, whilst a gift, will only be so if we seek to challenge our preconceptions about how that life is structured.

In short, and I really am paraphrasing, the authors explain that anyone in their late teens/early twenties can expect to live to the ripe old age of 106! This means that our current three stage “life model” of education, work and retirement is no longer valid or realistic.

It’s a great read, and one I’d highly recommend. The terrifying part came when I started to think about what that meant for me – and the challenge for business and how it approaches leadership – when I think about “my” generation and the space they inhabit.

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We don’t need no education

So sang Pink Floyd in 1979 on their Christmas number 1 single Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 from their album The Wall.   It was a protest against rigid, didactic education. 

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A High Tide

One of the greatest things about working in learning is the boundless curiosity of those around you; unfortunately it can also be one of the worst things about our profession too. We are, far too often, enamoured with the latest shiny thing and, as such, open to the accusation that we’re “fluffy” rather than commercial.

Yet our role in business is simple: to make it better. Our job is to improve the quality of our people and make the organisation better at what it does. As Sergei would say “simples”…

So why do we often get it so wrong?

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Strategy is Rehearsal

Strategy as Rehearsal

I coached someone today who has a personally very important speech to deliver and wanted to get it as right as possible.

As I listened to him speak I was struck by the demonstration of leadership that he was embodying in both what he said and how he said it. For me, it also was a brilliant example of how to solve the strategy/execution conundrum that is the source of so much leadership scholarship.

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The kids are alright

Let’s start this month’s essay with a musical philosophy question. 

In the 1960s, the Who sang “The kids are alright”.  In 1998, The Offspring sang “The kids aren’t alright”.  Which group had the more prescient song?

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Why Not? A story about those who dare to be different…

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.

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An audience with Charlie Walker-Wise: even more about Space and Time

Charlie Walker-Wise

I had been waiting for this opportunity for some time. To meet up face-to-face with Blog Guest Author Charlie Walker-Wise and get his first-hand account of how attention to Space and Time can create more effective communication.

Charlie had written two articles a year ago on this Blog about space and time – the links are in ‘further reading’ below. Since then I have referred my coaching clients a number of times to Charlie’s wisdom on this subject. When they needed to make a landmark presentation to a number of people. Or when they had a forthcoming significant one-to-one discussion – a so called ‘moment of truth’ or ‘crucial conversation’. Either way, Charlie’s articles kept bouncing back to me as part of my coach’s toolkit.

For me the space was on Tuesday last week at Balthazar’s French Bistro in London’s Covent Garden. The time was lunch time. I originally intended to call this article ‘Lunch with Charlie Walker-Wise’, but didn’t think it would really grab your attention dear reader!

I have known Charlie since he was 12. His parents had a home in our village when we moved in 28 years ago (you do the maths). It’s so very gratifying to see him now. Married with two young children. A successful career as Client Director with RADA Business. It’s this combination of acting and business that fuels my imagination and drives me to seek out his views.

So here we are meeting for lunch and I announce to Charlie I have an agenda. I want to pick his brains about space and time.

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