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?
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.
I’m not sure about you but I’m better at giving advice than receiving
it. My privilege as a trainer and performance coach is to be able to fall back
on “do as I say, not as I do”. This is not something I’m particularly proud of
and nor is it something I want to admit to those I work with. I console myself,
professionally at least, with the fact that my diagnostic skills lie in helping
others and not myself. It also can’t be very helpful for anyone with the unenviable
task of being my coach.
Recently, however, I was offered some advice and in spite of
my habit, I took it. Surprisingly, to me anyway, the shift in awareness it
provoked has rippled through my whole life. My own coach is a mindfulness expert
and while we don’t spend too much time on this topic she set me a related task.
I was to take an everyday activity and be fully in it as I perform it, noticing
the sensations provoked by the experience.
Now, I’m not good at doing what I’m told. I will find ingenious ways not to do the homework I’ve been set (the French “devoir” always seemed a much more appropriate name). But over the Christmas break I had little excuse not to do one of the two very simple requests made of me.
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.
During a period of change, people’s discretionary energy can be dissipated by negative and unproductive activities such as rumours, speculation and gossip. During the Reality part of the coaching conversation the role of the Coach is to raise the Coachee’s awareness of these distractions and the events that may trigger them.
To you as a leader it’s Business Transformation. To people at the sharp end of the business it means Change. And many people don’t like the thought of forthcoming change – in fact they fear it, or put another way are change resistant. And many times when the change arrives they suffer a feeling of deep loss – like mourning. So what is the role of the Leadership Coach in a period of business transformation and change?
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.
Are you a “Yes-all the time-round the clock-person”? , Do you feel bad when you say No, so you immediately go to a “but” that opens a lines of real or unrealistics reasons to eventually say Yes?, Do you know why do you do it? Want to experience the “FREEDOM” that saying “NO” can bring to your life?, then let me share what I did to stop feeling guilty by really wanting to say no, and always ended up saying yes to everyone.
A book, a poem and a newspaper article – what can we learn about the Pursuit of Happiness and Success from these publications?
There are books, poems and articles that stay with you throughout your adult life. In my case I can cite one of each and recall the person – in all cases A family member – who originally brought them to my attention. When I look back I realise these were the people that influenced me in my early years. They set me on a path in pursuit of happiness and success.
A Book. As far as books go for me it has been ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie that set me on my path. I have a 1977 paperback edition. The subtitle on the front cover says: ‘The phenomenal bestseller that is helping millions find success and happiness’. It’s well used, marked up with pencil and has post-it notes sticking out to draw me back to things I must have thought were important to me in the 1970s and beyond. I was introduced to this book by my late father-in-law Ken Smith. What’s even more exciting for me is that I now have Ken’s 1936 hardback imprint of the same book. And it has his pencil marks ups, which give me a great insight to what was important to him in the 1940s and 50s as he started out on his path to happiness and success in his life and in his career. The inside front cover of Ken’s book quotes Carnegie’s ‘Twelve things this book will help you achieve‘.
A Poem. The poem that influenced me was ‘If‘ by Rudyard Kipling which my mother Peggy sent me in 1968 when I had left home to go to University. I believe at that time she was offering me a pattern for my future life.
An Article. We have to wait until the new millennium for the article that has influenced both my wife and I ever since that time. It was my father-in-law Ken again who sent us a clipping from The Sunday Times of 30 January 2000 entitled ‘How to be Happy’. It was an article by Gyles Brandreth in which he interviewed the eminent Irish psychiatrist Dr Anthony Clare who offered his seven point plan for happiness. We have followed Dr Clare’s prescription ever since. And just last month my wife Sue introduced me to a new article in the Independent about a ten year research programme by ‘Happiness Expert’ Eric Barker. In the article the Indy’s lifestyle writer Kashmira Gander summarises “Eric Barker has spent almost a decade uncovering why some people seem more happy and successful than others, but his findings don’t always make for comfortable reading“.
There is a surprising fourth source of inspiration from a family member – a Document of State – but more of that later!
What can we learn about the Pursuit of Happiness and Successfrom these publications?