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?
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.
The leadership demands on people transitioning into senior roles are considerable. Resilience and stakeholder management are often key to a successful transition.
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.
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.
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.
It is very interesting to read recent posts from Frank Clayton and Charlie Walker-Wise about millennials’ attitudes and values. Their remarks make valuable contributions to the rolling discussion about this demographic, which seems to me to be often unfairly slighted for being work-shy, recalcitrant and pessimistic.
This has been a real lesson in stepping back, taking time and remembering to breathe. It has reminded me that professionally and personally it’s fundamentally important to create space. Only then can we achieve the perspective we need on what we’re working towards.
This week is a big week for me. We are moving house, have said goodbye to builders who have been preparing our new place and are expecting our second child in less than two weeks. All the things you’re told not to do together, we’re doing them.
This has led me to reflect on resilience and leadership. With a heavily pregnant wife much of the heavy lifting (literal and metaphoric) has fallen to me. At times I haven’t held up as robustly as I would like to think I would be able to.