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– the key word there being expect – which in turn means our current three stage model of education, work, retire, is outdated.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?
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.
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education, work and retirement is no longer valid or realistic.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.
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”…
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.
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.
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
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.