What does your personality suggest about your approach to innovation?

The is the second of two blogs about innovation.  This concentrates on the connection between human personality, behaviour and innovation which, as we saw in part 1, is not only about massive, new initiatives but encompasses a broad sweep of smaller, gradual steps of improvement to processes used by an organisation, the approaches used to lead and manage its people who may no longer be working co-locatedly as they were pre-pandemic, and to product specification and service experience. Processes encompass systems, both technological ones and organisational practices. 

If you are running a SME, what can you do to learn more about your natural style? How does this aid and abet innovation or raise stumbling blocks that can slow progress and burn-up scarce resources like money, time and people’s health and well-being? 

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What is innovation?

This is the first of two blogs about innovation.  This first one considers the broad theme of innovation and sets out that it isn’t all about making major leaps forward.  It identifies how innovation is reliant on people.  The second essay will explore that aspect more deeply. 

The theme of innovation is now such an over-used buzzword that the approach to doing it effectively has drifted out of sight. Theory drowns out the practical. People look at innovation as something big organisations do and, perhaps, not do especially well. Innovation relates to massive, scene-shifting developments.  One reads about innovation causing the tectonic plates of business to shudder. 

Such magnitude 8 earthquakes occur far less frequently than most people recognise.  Most innovation comprises far smaller tremors. These should occur consistently and constantly. Without them organisations’, big and small, may see their viability and relevance to their end users diminish?

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Climate change – what needs to be done: part 1?

In August 19, I posted a blog entitled, “What if Greta is correct?”, see https://www.tsp-uk.co.uk/general-leadership/what-if-greta-is-correct/.  I want to come back to the topic of Climate Change. During my recent holiday I read Bill Gates’ book, “How to avoid a climate disaster”, as well as the Economist’s special report on Climate Change published to coincide with COP26 in Glasgow.

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Leadership and Sports Coaching Interview: Pete Walton

Ten lessons leaders can learn from top level football coaches.

What is common to both leadership and sports coaching? What is different? How transferable are the principles of coaching? And what can leadership coaches learn from sports managers and coaches?

To answer these question and more I turned to an old friend of mine, Pete Walton. After a successful career as a manager in business he transferred his talents to Premier League football as a referee. During a professional career spanning nearly 20 years, Pete refereed a number of notable matches, including the 2003 final of the Football League Trophy and the FA Community Shield in 2008. He officiated in the Premier League from 2003 to 2012. From 2013 he was General Manager of the Professional Referee Organization in North America until Howard Webb took over in January 2018. From 2019 Pete has worked as a referee analyst for BT Sport’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League, discussing key decisions and explaining the usage of VAR, both in-game and post-match. He also regularly appears on ESPN FC. He was part of ITV’s pundit team at this summer’s Euro 2020 to provide expert insight on all the major decisions during games.

The worlds of sport and business have been closely linked for as long as I can remember. Major sports events are big business. They involve big cities, big egos, and big bucks for the players and team owners. Perhaps big business – indeed, all business – can be seen as sport. Just listen to the sports-like language used by people in business. I often use sports metaphors myself in training and coaching sessions.

With Pete’s help, in this this article we’re looking at ten key areas of sport and leadership coaching.

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Nothing new under the sun

I realised a couple of weeks ago that I haven’t had a proper break from my work for two years.  Suddenly, I felt wearied.  Accordingly, I furled in my sails and allowed myself to float about on the waves of content concerning leadership, organisational design and development, culture, purpose, values, and finance that flood into my Inbox. 

All the big consultancies and individual practitioner experts like myself issue so much stuff from articles to webinars to videos to memes to animations to… well, nothing new.  In writing my essay, I’m conscious I risk adding to the cacophony. 

However, my aim is to identify some “crotchets of note” that will scythe through the noise. Hopefully, these will provide a clear tempo for healthy organisations to create the conditions that raise rather than harm the well-being of the individuals who work there.

I’m old enough to remember the Irish entertainer Val Doonican singing about O’Rafferty’s motor car, “… used to be as black as me father’s hat, now it’s forty shades of green”.  This seems to fit with all I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to.  Material is cited as being distinct, discrete, and differential in its hue, yet so much appears to be another Pantone shade of grey (rather than green).  

All this got me thinking about whether the principles of leadership that I first encountered in a book from 1968 called “Motivation and Organisational Climate” written by George Litwin and Robert Stringer contain the golden threads on which we should not lose our cognitive and physical grasp.  Their work was informed and influenced by that of David McClelland, Kurt Lewin, and Robert Blake and Jane Mouton amongst many. 

McClelland’s work on motivation identifies people having three main motivational drivers, achievement, affiliation, and power.  The latter has two faces, personalised and social or institutional.  Are we mistakenly celebrating some leaders’ personalised power?  What risks arise from their “must win, me, me, me” drive?  For instance, how much is the pandemic crisis and our world standing on the brink of climate catastrophe due to this self-centred rather than selfless leadership (see later)?  As we combat the global climate challenge, what must be done to nurture and sustain healthy climates in organisations? 

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Leadership Interview: Hans Augusteijn ‘Moving Up – the Coaching Journey Continues’

Hans Augusteijn: What are the Top 10 themes as his career moves onwards and upwards?

We last checked in with Hans Augusteijn on the progress of his leadership coaching journey back in 2018. A lot has happened with him since then in terms of his career progression. He has been moving on and moving up. After 17 years with Maersk he has a new role in a new organisation. Hans is now Chief Strategy Officer with Stolt Tankers in Rotterdam.

I have worked with Hans since 2012. In this interview I asked him to reflect on the top 10 themes that have dominated his recent leadership coaching journey.

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To improve organisational health and well-being, you need Servant-leadership

“The great leader is seen as a servant first” Robert Greenleaf 1970

In the week after the UK’s May Day public holiday, along with my colleagues Doctors Steve Glowinkowski and Henry Ratter, I spoke at the BakerFish (see www.bakerfish.com) organised conference on servant-leadership.  Our combined aim was to bring a practical contribution to the event.  Together we outlined how Glowinkowski International’s (GIL) diagnostic methodologies can assess the quality of servant-leadership in organisations as well as explaining how this can be developed.

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LARA Leadership Learning eBooks on Amazon Kindle

Time to Refresh & Renew your Leadership Skills.

Now published – my LARA Leadership Learning series of 10 eBooks. You can buy them online or borrow and read them for free if you subscribe to Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Targeted leadership refresher and learning modules. Just right for Refreshing & Renewing your leadership skills.

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Leadership and Staff Engagement

Sound leadership and staff engagement must involve encouraging accountability and this means unlearning old rules and culture and learning the new rules of trust.

A Suggestion Scheme – is this really about Staff Engagement?

The MD of a client manufacturing company was concerned that the new Staff Suggestions Scheme did not appear to be generating any ideas from staff as to improving the processes.

‘It’s as if they are not interested…’ the MD complained. He was right. Most staff suggestion schemes falter in the early stages.

The reasons usually centre on staff scepticism as to whether any suggestions will be acted upon. Equally important is that employee groups are rarely involved in developing and implementing improvement ideas.

So what should he do? Let me unfold the story of what we did, starting with trust, training and accountability.

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Mindset shifts

Introduction

I came across this illustration on LinkedIn a few days ago. It claims to offer a fresh recipe for the mindset shifts required to transform organisations.  It stimulated much thought and reflection about the practicalities of the ideas it imparted.  While the best ideas are often simple, is this too simplistic?  Does it ignore the realities of organisational and wider societal life? This is morphing at warp speed under the impact of Covid-19. What the end state will, no one is really sure.

Without doubt, change needs to occur. Are the alternatives so firmly locked at the opposite ends of the five linear scales?  In other words, rather than “Yes, but…”, don’t we need a “Yes, and” approach?  Walt Disney was alleged to answer questions by saying, “Yes, what if we did this…?”. By doing so, he responds positively to the principle of the idea while “reviewing and refining” it. This remains an organisation habit across the entertainment conglomerate.

Is the optimal case for organisational leaders to cultivate the cultural flexibility to display aspects of all the attributes of the labels?  The article does not need to be read in one go.  Consider each of the five “shifts” separately over their own mug of tea or coffee. 

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