The Heart of Leadership

Our heart is at the centre of our relationships with others; this is the heart of leadership, well, it should be and sometimes it isn’t!

Much has been written about leadership qualities over the years, as managers and executives want to understand how to be a better leader. In short, that description, ‘want to understand’ tells us a lot about where they are leading themselves from. Leadership isn’t a definition; it’s a process called leading.  It is what we feel, what we instinctively understand and what we know, when we are doing the right thing.

Nebulous, you may say and almost deliberately so, for we are conditioned to focus on using our head brains to solve problems, to become inventive and creative in designing, building and marketing new ideas, concepts and products. And for what purpose? What is the right thing?  What number one driving purpose? I am going to suggest that, since Victorian times, the driving purpose has been to generate money. After all, that’s what every business is there for…right? The creation of wealth.

Well, that is the first assumption that sets us off on a path that has it’s own pitfalls and long term consequences for humanity. If the sole purpose (the one that is measured and rewarded) is to make money; all thinking and behaviours align to that goal. We become focused on productivity, market share, growing and expanding continuously and it’s what the investor expects; return on investment, making money. The consequence is an ever-increasing pace of life, pressure, fear of not succeeding, not measuring-up and the concomitant increase in stress, anxiety and burnout.

And what is wealth? There are many definitions, not limited to financial security

  1. an abundance of valuable things or money
  2. a plentiful supply of a particular desirable thing

Many years ago, a friend of mine said, if you could bottle contentment, you would have a queue around the block wanting to buy some and that queue would never end.

With increasing evidence, it is becoming more visible that, if done in an uncontrolled way, wealth-creation is unsustainable from a financial perspective. I will cite the recent collapse of Thomas Cook as an example of out-of-balance decision-making by the board of directors; making decisions that increase a debt burden well beyond what could be managed, impairing investment and adaptability.  Ultimately, this led to loss of jobs (both directly and indirectly), customer dissatisfaction and loss, whilst directors took millions in reward payments and salary before the collapse into administration. A new development?  Sadly not; just another example in an ever-growing list of corporate collapses following periods of sustained head- and gut-led leadership.

Let me explain; the multiple brains we have (those defined by science as brains), have different functions. They have been known about for millennia, honoured and used wisely by ancient civilisations. However, as we became more and more focused on the use of our head brains and came to believe it was the most important asset of human sapiens…the very thing that differentiated us from all other species on earth, we became trapped in our own man-made creation. These other brains are the Heart and the Gut brains. You can read far more on the underpinning science in the book by Grant Soosalu & Marvin Oka ‘mBraining: Using Your Multiple Brains To Do Cool Stuff’, which you can buy here https://www.revealsolutions.co.uk/coaching-cards-courses-books-resources/mbraining-using-multiple-brains-cool-stuff/

Our current leadership is a product of that skewed creation. The expression ‘what gets measured gets done’ explains this; leading to the double-bind situation and belief, ‘if you don’t make the money expected by your investors, your investors desert you and your business goes South’. As managers, the organisation expects that you will maintain productivity and increasing performance, but the leadership here is pseudo leadership.  It is driven by unbridled creativity; to find continuously better and cheaper ways of delivering the product or service, and the courage to push on, regardless of feedback…the ‘no-pain-no-gain’ mentality and wrapped up in the message of fear, ‘if we don’t adapt and get better, someone else will take the business’.  This is largely what leads to corporate takeovers, removing the competition, establishing dominance, snuffing out small start-ups that are disrupters by buying them.

So in the short term, the wheel keeps spinning and there is a human cost to all of that. There is a migration to the few in power and holding the financial wealth.  Business gets bigger and bigger, potentially dwarfing the economies of countries and governments. There is disproportionate global population growth, and resources are used in short periods of time, that takes Nature many thousands of years to restock, if ever. Such leadership self-sustaining power base is amplified out of fear and protection of what has been ‘earned’. And all of this is unsustainable, both for the planet and the human species.

In the meantime, more people experience increasing anxiety, depression and stress-related health issues – the World Health Organisation predicts that mental health illness will be the single biggest cause of death in the world by 2025! Why? Because we are not living in balance or harmony with Self, others and Nature.

What is your Purpose? This used to be a question that predominantly popped up in later life, after finding a job, finding a partner, getting married, buying a house, having children, getting promotions to increase your salary, supporting your children’s education until they start their own new cycle of life. Well that is no longer the case.  This Life Question is being asked by many a lot earlier in life. I suspect the time of change in how we are currently living, is going to be more abrupt and quicker than even the biggest of corporations are willing to admit. I suspect the Heart of Leadership is about to announce it’s presence on the world.

Truly successful companies will be those whose DNA is bigger than making a profit. Their owners and employees will then truly be freed to make a difference in peoples lives, not just to say that they do! This is the heart of leadership

 

The heart brain’s prime functions are, Feeling, Valuing and Connecting

 

Just in the last week, I have had discussions with people who are experiencing Gen Z’s and Millennials in the workplace saying ‘no, I am not doing that, is not right, because it goes against my values and what important to me’. So leadership must adapt and businesses can become more sustainable where the focus is on careering, on connecting deeply with what their prospective customer wants and not what suits them to make a profit, on involving their people, acknowledging their needs and desires, on measuring the quality of the relationships, rather than merely the number of relationships, or the £ returned by each account etc.

The Heart of Leadership is at all levels in society; politicians, big business, small business, local government, educational institutions, voluntary organisations and above all else, at leading Self, being in balance with Self, so that you are able to make decisions that are sustainable and where thinking becomes wider than just look after number one. In order for that to happen, people need to feel safe and secure; humans do not thrive while under threat or in fear, they hunker down and survive. Creating a positive, wholesome environment is the role of government and can only be delivered when decisions are made, not for the short term patting of ego or the growth of interest and investments first, but with the heart leading creating a better future for all.

 

 

“A society grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they know they shall never sit”. An ancient Greek proverb. One of the oldest civilizations in the world.

 

 

The heart of leading is using your multiple intelligences in an aligned way, so that each prime function of each intelligence is utilised.  In doing so, we have access to emergent wisdoming, the synergistic combination of intelligences, the alchemy and fusion of sensing. Then, we make decisions not based out of fear or because we can; we make decisions happy that the outcomes leave a lasting legacy, from which others will also benefit. That what is built, is strong and stable and acts as a marker, an unwritten lesson to future generations.  Generosity, kindness and respect for balance endure…this is the heart of leadership

Pseudo leading results in the majority surviving a trail of ruin and turmoil, disaster and unhappiness.  Pseudo leaders who have little connection to their heart intelligence and hence the reason they demonstrate little personal reflection or remorse for their actions; preferring instead to lay blame at the feet of others.

I read the obituary T Boone Pickens in the Times newspaper yesterday “an oil magnate, whose ruthlessness earned him many enemies”.  His life was littered with many multimillion dollar deals; I will allow you to read about his personal life for yourself; hasten to say, money does not bring you happiness.

There is more to life than surviving; each and every one of us has within us the power to decide what is the right thing to do.  So choose wisely and be aware of the consequences of not engaging all your multiple intelligences.

I wish you a joyous and happy life, in harmony with Self, others and Nature. This is the heart of true leadership.

http://www.mbraining.com/

http://www.mbraining.co.uk/

 

So don’t we need to change the way we are doing things?

Which ever way you look at it we are facing the most challenging time of our lives. VUCA times. We are over using our head brains with  massive consequences building for us all. We have created exponential change!

We are seeing it in the way our economies are performing, we are seeing it in the ecology of our planet, we are seeing it in ourselves. Stress, burnout, low levels of satisfaction in life, and all these when we have the largest leaps forward in technology.

People suffering from a meaningful lack of connection yet spending more time with their heads in devices!

Its time to change, to do things differently.

So if this has perked your interest or maybe your already  interested in neuroscience and the impact the latest discoveries have on learning, decision making, leadership and living your life, have a look at www.mbraining.com

Hit Those Targets

Unbelievably only a month or so after the VW saga broke, we have another example of chasing targets and taking actions that are for the benefit of the corporation, both financially and with market share, but with no benefit to the consumer. In this new reported case, an Australian court has ruled the same product was labelled as 3 different targeted pain killers & sold at twice the price as the base product, with the same active ingredient.
With so many businesses including Ethical Trading policies in an attempt to convince the customer that they are not there just for their own benefit and those of the shareholders, it is not SME companies demonstrating this gulf between espoused values and actions; somewhat disappointingly it is the very companies who should be showing leadership due to their mass influence, blue chip multinationals.

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Christmas Time Mistletoe and Wine

How quickly we find ourselves at this time of the year once more. Xmas decs up in the office, parties and get togethers to celebrate and have festive fun.
It is the one time of the year that people come together and I can’t help to notice that people actually engage in more conversation, finding out more about those that they work with and spend time getting to know others that they see about, but maybe have the briefest of conversations with while at work.
We are in the people business, and while virtually every manager I have ever known acknowledges that people are our biggest asset when we talk specifically about employee engagement, satisfaction at work, productivity etc. many lose sight of this important fact and can get fixated on KPI’s, KRA’s, SLA’s etc. back in the workplace.

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Why every leader should know about Modelling

Leaders must influence; they have the opportunity to make change happen, they often have both connection and power but must be careful on how they use it.
I guess your interest has been captured by the title!
We are all expert modellers, or at least we were! We are born with the innate ability to copy; it’s one of the ways in which we learn as a child. We see those who are around us the most, do things and we copy it, this extends to the way in which we learn language and one reason why a child can learn multiple languages at an early age simultaneously and easily.
I was reading an article on CEO strategy the other day by Roger Martin, a professor at the University of Toronto. In it, a small sentence caught my eye; “everybody watches the leader of his or her organisation. If the leader is successful, everyone will attempt to mimic them”. Never has a truer statement been made and this is where the importance of understanding modelling comes in.

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Your Chapter 9

“Every man is condemned to freedom” Jean-Paul Sartre
This week’s blog is inspired by my friend Grant Soosalu, a very clever chap, who along with Marvin Oka, co-created the innovative field of mBraining. Having used methodologies from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Cognitive Linguistics and Behavioural Modelling and informed by the latest neuroscientific discoveries; Grant answered his calling, put a pause on his highly successful consultancy business to devote his time unpaid, with the full support of his wife, to ensuring the world heard about mBraining and all the science that is going on as we speak, uncovering even more evidence that supports beliefs and practices dating back thousands of years; that we achieve wisdom through the communication and alignment of our multiple brains.
This is not a blog about mBraining specifically, however if you wish to find out more, please follow the links at the end of the blog, or contact me directly. This is a blog about finding your purpose; it’s a blog about making a difference in the world, about following what you know, for you, to be intrinsically the right thing to do and having the courage to do it.
We have just witnessed an interesting event in UK politics, without wishing to get into politics, I thought it would be a good example to highlight, a case of choosing a Leader. Many employees may believe they don’t choose their leaders. I think this is partially correct; but they do have a choice as to whether they follow the incumbent leader or not! In fact, they may choose another leader elsewhere, something that now the economic landscape may be improving will be born out as people feel more at ease with moving to another organisation.

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Becoming a Compassionate Leader

A study completed by Christina Boedker from the Australian School For Business has uncovered a “positive link between productivity and compassionate leadership.”
She studied more than 5600 people across 77 organizations, and found the single greatest influence on profitability and productivity was the ability of a leader to be Compassionate.

Why might that be? Probably because when we feel leadership with compassion we feel genuinely valued and as a result we give discretionary effort without reserve.

Leadership development starts with a leader wanting to be more effective and willing to look at themselves honestly and uncompromisingly, both from the outside-in and from the inside-out. Development is self-driven, the best at achieving this are those without ego who genuinely appreciate the opportunity they have to lead and value more than performance and profit. This is not to say they are not focused or understand that area of responsibility; it just means they achieve it a different way.

At the beginning of the year, I was privileged to experience mBIT, multiple Brain Integration Techniques, when I completed my mBIT coach certification; this further enhanced my understanding how leaders can make better decisions when they fully integrate their multiple brains.

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Improving Employee Engagement Part 3

In the first installment of this blog on employee engagement we took an extract from a recent employee engagement survey conducted by Changeboard in partnership with Oracle. The results are real food for thought, leading us to the question, what can we do about it? Each week we will look at the major blockers to employee engagement, with solutions that will lead to great improvements when implemented.

Often misunderstood; the term Performance Management is not all about tackling poor performance! It encompasses the whole performance spectrum. Cited by 38% of those involved in the survey as a reason for poor employee engagement was poor performance management. Organisations that have poor performance management are those who not only fail to set and communicate clear expectations of employee behaviours, standards of work, productivity etc., with clear ways of measuring and improvement processes to follow in the event of unacceptable performance; they are also the ones who fail to acknowledge good and great performance, probably do not have recognition and reward programs, may well have a culture of ‘well that’s what they get paid to do’.

So let’s look at these two sides of the performance spectrum. We are more comfortable knowing what is expected of us than trying to guess it. Good standards are achieved when in the first instance, clear and reasonable expectations are agreed and communicated. Standards do deteriorate without them, as employees may unconsciously try and find the lower limit of acceptability. This situation can be awkward for managers who may also be unsure when to take a stance and make an intervention, with employees often upset at the challenge or the complete lack of consistency, potentially leading to accusations of bullying or harassment and the possibility of future action at an employment tribunal. A lack of clear expectation leads to disengagement and disillusionment for positive high performing employees, who struggle to keep high levels of motivation when they see standards not upheld around them. Altogether a poor state of affairs.
What we can do is work with organisations to design or improve their existing Skills and Behaviours frameworks and then incorporate them into their job specifications/ descriptions. We can deliver training with line managers on how best to communicate expectations, deal with performance matters, conduct successful appraisal meetings with their team members, helping them to identify development opportunities and implement plans to meet expectations.

On the other side of the spectrum, if we fail to recognise good and great performance, we fail to grasp the opportunity to inspire; not only the employee demonstrating high levels of achievement, but also the opportunity to inspire others. Everyone likes to be a part of success and the most successful organisations are ones whose culture recognises achievement and celebrates success. Often this culture starts with recognising small green shoots, it’s about keeping an eye out to catch people doing it right and then recognising that in an authentic and sincere way.
When we miss that opportunity to acknowledge not just performance, but participation, challenge, innovation etc., we risk extinguishing the flames of passion and engagement. One of the most interesting stories I came across on this subject was of a manager, who without budget to reward good performance, bought a ‘Bart Simpson’ figure and dyno taped ‘ for going above and beyond the call of duty’ to the base. This was duly presented to an employee the next week, who had done more than they had needed to, ensuring a customer was satisfied following a complaint. To much laughter and applause, along with a heartfelt thank you from the manager; the figure found a prominent home on the low dividing wall in the office by the employees desk. Hasten to say, there was much competition to have the ‘Bart Simpson award’ as it became known on your desk. No monetary value, but a representation of ‘I have been recognised and I am proud to display it’.
So what we can do is, influence cultures, be change agents and start each time we go into a business by being appreciative of what people are already doing as they go about their job. We can help organisations develop appreciative programmes; include success stories and achievements by colleagues in briefings, team meetings and in staff magazines and newsletters. We can demonstrate though our behaviours that appreciation and recognition help gain employee trust and improve engagement levels.

Improving Employee Engagement Part 2

In the first installment of this blog on employee engagement we took an extract from a recent employee engagement survey conducted by Changeboard in partnership with Oracle. The results are real food for thought, leading us to the question, what can we do about it? Each week we will look at the major blockers to employee engagement, with solutions that will lead to great improvements when implemented.

Linked to the manager relationship, is the issue of lack of career development opportunity cited by 39% of those participating as a reason for poor employee engagement. The line manager with poor people skills and unacceptable behaviours is most unlikely to be a nurturing, encouraging individual. We all have a better level of wellbeing when we are involved and part of the story. We all have skills, knowledge & expertise, the secret is if those are recognised, honed & channelled.
What we can do is to work with organisations to develop an extensive people plan that fully reflects business needs, identifies people’s aspirations and matches latent potential to training and development programmes. A critical component of a great people plan is in communicating the opportunity messages and celebrating success, the completion of training, the awards won, the promotions achieved etc.

Reveal Solutions are Leadership and Management Development specialists, designing and delivering bespoke learning interventions that improve employee performance, wellbeing and engagement.

Improving Employee Engagement part 1

Here is an extract from a recent employee engagement survey conducted by Changeboard in partnership with Oracle. The results are real food for thought, leading us to the question, what can we do about it? Each week we will look at the major blockers to employee engagement, with solutions that will lead to great improvements when implemented.

The majority (60%) of organisations are not happy with the current levels of employee engagement. There are many different reasons for low employee engagement. The most common is due to leadership behaviours, put forward by 45% of people. “The organisation currently has no competency framework or values in place, so leadership behaviours have a big negative effect on engagement,” asserted one individual. But the line manager/employee relationship is also prominent (42%), as is a lack of career development opportunities (39%), poor performance management (38%) and a perceived lack of voice (27%). Other anecdotal responses also referenced issues such as conflict between senior management and employees, a lack of work/life balance and the impact of substantial funding cuts, reorganisations and job losses.

Isn’t it shocking that 45% of workers participating responded that their low engagement was as a direct result of Leadership behaviours. There are so many organisations that first fail to identify the behaviours they want their leaders to demonstrate consistently and secondly, fail to build effective skills and behaviour frameworks that underpin quality leadership in their business.
What we can do is to assist businesses both identify and work in partnership with leaders to put together the framework, whilst building their understanding of What we are doing, Why we are doing it , How it will be a benefit for them and their employees.
We can support leaders through coaching to help explore their own leadership behaviour challenges, identify where and why some situations are more challenging than others and to increase their own self-awareness.

Reveal Solutions are Leadership and Management Development specialists, designing and delivering bespoke learning interventions that improve employee performance, wellbeing and engagement.