Edge Summer 2018

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Back to school LEARN YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS Plus Take it from NASA Badly performing managers The physiology of irrational behaviour


The greatest problems facing organizations today no longer fit in neat categories such as operational, financial or technological. Our biggest challenges are more complex and blurred —and therefore more human. That is why leadership is more important now than ever before. So is context. Innovation, culture change, agility and shifts in behaviours and mindsets are the new change agenda. And, leaders are under pressure to accelerate their readiness for this new world. Whether the need is building fundamentals or preparing for the unknown, at Duke Corporate Education, we build solutions grounded in your business context. We work with you to craft the right solution so that your leaders — managers, directors, high potentials or executives — acquire not just new knowledge, but also behaviours and mindsets to move the organization in the right direction fast. We’re here to help leaders get ready for what’s next. Singapore | Johannesburg | Ahmedabad | London | San Diego | Durham


www. dukece.com


Contents SUMMER 2018

Update 6

All the latest developments in leadership and management

Debate 11





The Institute’s Ownership Ambassador, Dame Kathy August, on what ownership means to her

Keep those L-plates Chief executive Phil James on why leaders are always learning



Our regular LBGT+ columnist, Christopher Hallas, talks about the importance of inspirational role models


News Achievement Ambassador; banter research; partnership with the Chartered Institute of Housing; events

The Edge Interview 22

Edge meets Alison Russell-Brookes, chief of staff, Training Wing, at RAF Halton

Spotlight LEARNING


Prepare for the unexpected The link between knowledge and future proofing



Class act Leadership lessons from Drew Povey, headteacher of Harrop Fold School


Owning up is easy Learning from mistakes

Great conversations Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards, explores what authenticity means in practice A day in the life of Hollie Woodard


In the Hot Seat Christopher Allen, head of workplace consulting at Morgan Lovell, reveals what leadership means to him

36 38

Case study River Island uses development to set its staff up for success





Nudging towards inclusion


Women in technology


Collaboration returns



Badly performing managers


Beyond Borders



Shaping a vision



Physiology and high performance


Generation next

75 Coaching Column Jeff Matthews



76 Management Dilemma Is base pay or a bonus more motivational?

Goodbye to the gurus


Networked leadership

Hear it from NASA


South Africa

77 How to change someone’s mind once it’s made up

Future of Work

78 Strategic networking



Meet a director of happiness


Intent-based leadership



HR analytics


Skills for the future

80 Book Club 82 MyLeadership 83 Inspiration Directory Your go-to development resource 84 Leadership Legend Charles Hampden-Turner explains how to unleash the power of the people






Raafi Alidina is a diversity and inclusion expert, and associate at consultancy Frost Included. He has a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. His research on using behavioural economics for inclusion in organisations, and the development of a behavioural measure for inclusion was awarded the Jane Mansbridge Research Award for outstanding research on women and gender.

Dame Kathy August has spent 40 years in education, serving as a headteacher, a director of education, and a senior adviser at the Department for Education’s Standards and Effectiveness Unit. In 2014, she was made a DBE for services to education. She is visiting professor at the University of Salford Business School and was recently appointed to the Ofsted board.

Paul Sean Hill was director of mission operations at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Johnson Space Center from 2007 until 2014. He was responsible for all of NASA’s human spaceflight mission planning, flight control and astronaut training, as well as Mission Control. Between 1996 and 2005 he served as space shuttle and international space station flight director.




Sunita Malhotra is a professor at several universities, including Belgium’s Université Catholique de Louvain, where she teaches the CEMS master’s degree in international management. She is owner and managing director of People Insights, drawing on her cross-industry, cross-functional experience to coach global senior executives when they are shaping their organisational and leadership strategies.

Margo Manning is a leadership and management coach and facilitator. She works with managers at all levels in some of the world’s best-known companies. She is the architect of the 3:2 Management Methodology and subsequent 3:2 Management Development Programme that has been adopted by businesses of all sizes. She is author of the book The Step-up Mindset for New Managers.

Sebastian Salicru is a leadership development expert and author of Leadership Results: How to Create Adaptive Leaders and High-performing Organisations for an Uncertain World. A thought-leader and business psychologist who works and speaks on leadership globally, he has commented on leadership for numerous publications and been interviewed by Sky Business News and TVNZ.

Editor’s Letter


You get out what you put in Why education should never stop By


earning starts on the day we are born and shouldn’t stop until the day we die. To begin with, our learning is focused on mastering those essential life tasks that seem so basic to us now, but are huge achievements when you stop to think about them – tasks such as eating, walking and talking. It is only when you meet people who can’t eat, walk or talk unassisted that you realise it is wrong to take mastery of these tasks for granted. They are not as basic as they seem. Then we keep learning in the years we are part of the formal education system. During this time, we cram our minds with knowledge – knowledge that we may or may not use at a later date, but at least we are learning how to process information and apply what we know in a real-world context. Next, we embark on our careers and develop the professional and workplace skills that will enable us to earn a living. But what happens after that? For some individuals, not very much. Often through a combination of busy lives, limited personal interest and a lack of employer-provided development opportunities, the steep learning curve that they embarked upon at birth tails off sharply. We can all think of people who reached a point in their life when they started resisting anything new. Why is that? Let’s be honest, learning is hard. As a journalist, I have to learn about new topics all the time and understand them well enough to write about them confidently.

Sally Percy Sometimes, I write about things so complicated it feels like my brain is stretching itself while I work. In fact, this might be what is actually happening, since my brain is renewing itself through neural plasticity. In truth, though, I feel baffled by my brain. There are times when I wonder if it works better today than it did when I had just graduated from university. At other times, my children expose my appalling ignorance in certain areas by asking questions such as: “Where does blood come from?” and “What came first, the Iron Age or the Bronze

LEARNING – ALTHOUGH IT IS HARD WORK – IS A JOY Age?” Then I forget all about possibly doing another degree and think I should sign up for a primary school refresher instead. I am also astonished by how I can write about a topic one month and then a month later find I can’t remember anything about it. What I have concluded is that ultimately it is repetition and the application of knowledge that really make the difference. Also, learning – although it is hard work – is a joy. There is something in the doing that gives great pleasure. Finally, as this is a professional journal, I should point out the link between learning and career progression – something I have experienced myself. There is certainly truth in the adage: “The more you learn, the more you earn.” Learning should never end. sally.percy@lidpublishing.com

Edge is brought to you by: LID Publishing Editor Sally Percy sally.percy@lidpublishing.com Art Director Kate Harkus Assistant Editor Kirsten Levermore Chief Subeditor Camilla Cary-Elwes Digital Reporter Matt Packer Account Director Niki Mullin Editorial Director Ben Walker Publisher Martin Liu Institute of Leadership & Management Pacific House, Relay Point, Tamworth, B77 5PA. Chief Executive Phil James Head of Research, Policy & Standards Kate Cooper Head of Membership Janet Payne For advertising sales, please contact Andrew Schofield on andrew@spotonmedia.co.uk or +44 (0)161 408 3912 Publishing Published in the United Kingdom by LID Publishing, 204 The Record Hall, Baldwins Gardens, London EC1N 7RJ Disclaimer Copyright 2018 The Institute of Leadership & Management and LID Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission of the publisher. While we take care to ensure that editorial is accurate, independent, objective and relevant for the readers, Edge accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction rising from the content of this publication. The opinions expressed or advice given are the views of individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edge, The Institute of Leadership & Management or LID Publishing Ltd. Edge takes every effort to credit photographers but we cannot guarantee every published use of an image will have the contributor’s name. If you believe we have omitted a credit for your image, please email the editor ISSN 2515-7809 Printed by NewNorth www.newnorth.co.uk



Institute to harness the talent of UK veterans


he Institute of Leadership & Management has launched two reports based on its research programme into how military veterans can transfer their leadership and teamworking skills into the civilian workplace. The reports, entitled Leadership Redeployed and Tales of Transition, found that leadership and teamwork approaches in the military can vary significantly from those that service leavers find in civilian workplaces. In early 2017, the Institute conducted a survey of individuals with services experience, both current and previous. We wanted to know how they perceived teamwork and leadership. They told us that in the majority of cases these two concepts are inextricably linked. Yet as this is not necessarily the case in non-military organisations, it can lead to difficulties when services personnel are transitioning to civvy street. The Institute also conducted focus groups with experts in the transitioning field to explore the particular challenges facing service leavers. A knowledge gap evidently exists around the factors affecting employers’ decisions to hire military veterans and awareness of the skills they offer. The Institute wants to see the talents of UK veterans tapped more effectively because it represents over 31,000 leaders and managers, many of whom have military experience. Also, the UK has 2.6 million veterans, including 900,000 who are of working age. Veterans can have unique skills that are desperately needed in industry. Yet the research identified that civilian employers are

missing out on using veterans’ adaptability, capacity to learn, and teamworking, as well as other good skillsets. Meanwhile, veterans themselves may come across as unsure of the skills they possess when they interview for civilian jobs. A further barrier is the stigma that veterans are ‘bad’, ‘mad’ or ‘sad’ (Forces in

Mind Trust, 2016). The research, which is also supported by the Association for Project Management, highlighted that veterans have experience of working in an information-focused environment, where they are used to protecting information against cyber and other, more conventional, attacks. They are so immersed in this environment that many probably do not even realise that they have a relatively rare and highly desirable skillset. So they need particular help to translate their experience into the language of business, and to understand how they can shift the focus from ‘we’ to ‘I’ when seeking work in civilian life. As part of its ongoing research programme, the Institute will be compiling a toolkit for military leavers, continue to run its Redeploying Leadership support group, and investigate how all capabilities are transferred. If you wish to contribute to this project, please contact the Redeploying Leadership LinkedIn group: www.linkedin.com/groups/8612319

Kate Cooper becomes a Forbes contributor The Institute comments on leadership issues in the media and at conferences as part of its external communications remit. Kate Cooper, our head of research, policy and standards, has now joined US business magazine Forbes as a contributor on

leadership issues. She also writes articles and columns for Dialogue magazine and HRZone. Follow the Institute’s social media channels to read Kate’s blogs. Sally Percy, Edge’s editor, is also a contributor to Forbes. You can read her articles at: www.forbes.com/sites/sallypercy


Bad managers drive out talented staff Four out of five British employees have experienced either to communicate effectively. Mental health was the area where poor management or a poor manager, at least once during their managers were most likely to fall down. Several respondents career, according to new research by YouGov on behalf of HR cited managers who had a complete disregard or lack of awareand payroll solutions provider MHR. ness of issues surrounding mental health in the workplace. What’s more, the survey of more than 2,000 employees also Besides failing to support employees suffering from anxiety or found that almost three-quarters (73%) of employees who depression, several respondents claimed that their manager have experienced poor management or a poor manager was directly responsible for causing a decline in their have considered leaving a job, with 55% actually having own mental health. quit because of bad management. Julie Lock, service development director at MHR, When asked whether managers are equipped to said: “The survey highlights a widespread failure in the deal with the human or emotional side of way organisations prepare and train people management, more than half (58%) of responof employees have managers to take care of their staff effectively. dents said they are not. Worryingly, a number quit a job because of While managers are commonly trained in of respondents said that they had experienced bad management company policy, and may understand organisabullying, micro-management, and aggrestional processes and procedures like the back sive and threatening behaviour from their managers during of their hand, most don’t possess the people skills required recent employment. to handle the human aspect of management, and receive no Respondents criticised bad managers for being inexperi- training for this. As the research illustrates, this can have enced, out of their depth, lacking in people skills, expressing damaging and long-lasting repercussions when it comes to favouritism, failing to offer recognition and feedback, and failing employee engagement, talent retention and wellbeing.”




% Scared to let go and delegate tasks


% Unsure of expectations


% Lacked confidence in people management


% Had the full support of line manager


% Struggled with managing time *Source: Impellus


Parents are worn out by work Over two-thirds (67%) of working parents admit they feel exhausted by their work, new research by UK coaching company Talking Talent has found. Meanwhile, 70% of senior managers feel the same way, with more than half (58%) admitting that they often lose focus at work. As a result, Talking Talent highlighted that senior managers who are also working parents may need extra support from their employers. Overall, the study found that 57% of employees feel worn out by work, while nearly half believe that workers do not get enough support from their employers. It is not necessarily older

workers who struggle the most either, since three-quarters of those aged 25-34 said that they already felt worn out by work. Talking Talent coach director Rob Bravo said: “Organisations need to take action to support the wellbeing of their people. This research shows how the risk of burnout is real. The challenge of helping employees understand better how to manage their own wellbeing is part of protecting an organisation’s greatest asset – its people. If left unexamined, wellbeing issues will reverse positive trends in diversity and inclusion aimed at improving organisational performance.”


International Update

CEOs paid less at topperforming companies Companies that pay their CEOs more modestly perform better financially, claims new research from Vlerick Business School in Belgium. The study examined the pay levels and behaviours of CEOs and CFOs for 861 companies in the major stock indexes across Europe, including the FTSE 100 and 250 in the UK, the OMXS60 in Sweden and all listed firms across Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Using company performance data to calculate what companies should be paying their CEOs, researchers found that firms with better financial performance tended to pay their CEOs less than others. Significantly, analysis of the data also revealed that UK companies, along with those in Germany, overpay their CEOs in comparison with other countries – and that there were more cases of CEO overpayment in firms with more widely dispersed share ownership, which is another feature of UK companies.

94x UK CEOs are paid 94 times more than the average worker in their company

The study also found that, taking into account fixed remuneration, short-term incentives and share option grants, UK CEOs are paid 94 times more than the average worker in their company. Also, although CEO pay in the UK has dropped slightly this year to a median of €4.3m, this figure rose to €4.9m when adjusted for the effect of the Brexit vote on the British pound. Professor Xavier Baeten, who conducted the study, said: “UK companies overpay their CEOs in comparison to other major nations in the EU. They are not paid more because they perform better, but because, among other things, UK CEOs have more control over the company relative to European firms, due to a wider dispersion of share ownership.” He added: “The best-performing companies in this study tended to pay their CEOs a little less, and they also tended to pay more of their package as fixed salary and less in the form of variable, share-based remuneration.”

Potential is undervalued in NGO leadership Organisations in rapidly expanding sectors are wrongly prioritising experience over potential and new leadership skills, such as adaptability and learning agility. This is the view of Dr Riitta Lumme-Tuomala, head of growth at Aalto University Executive Education in Finland. She studied the humanitarian aid sector, where highly experienced managers tend to be favoured, even though new crises, such as those caused by climate change, demand new approaches to leadership. “Historically, leaders and founders of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been known to operate with a paternalistic management style,” explained Lumme-Tuomala. She continued: “Often, leaders of this type demonstrate drive

and commitment, as well as an ability to mobilise people and resources. But they can also dominate organisations, be unaccountable and fail to adapt their ways of working in the context of their sectors.” She added that NGO managers typically spend their entire career in one

organisation, which can lead to “highly seasoned individuals” continuing to be deployed to increasingly complex operations that require new ways of working and new types of mindsets. Lumme-Tuomala argues that the humanitarian aid sector’s “heroic and macho” leadership style of the past is being replaced by the need for managers who can demonstrate emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-regulation and high levels of influencing skills. She said: “Talent management initiatives should prioritise problem-solving, strategic decision-making, goal and direction-setting, and understanding operational context in managers, rather than relying on high levels of – often outdated – experience.”


A leader decoded Jeff Bezos Who is he? Jeff Bezos, 54, is best known as the founder of giant online retailer Amazon, which started life in his Seattle garage back in 1994. A true visionary and lover of new ideas, Bezos has probably done more than anyone on the planet to change our purchasing habits. In October 2017, Forbes named him the world’s richest person, estimating his fortune at $124.3bn. Leadership style: By his own admission, Bezos is obsessed with customers. So for him, leadership and customer service are inextricably intertwined. In his 2017 letter to Amazon’s shareholders, he wrote: “Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.” Greatest triumph: In December 2017, Amazon launched Amazon Go, a partially automated grocery store in Seattle. Cameras and sensors track shoppers’ progress around the store, record what they have picked up, and charge their credit card for items after they have left. Leadership philosophy in a nutshell: “If you never want to be criticised, for goodness’ sake don’t do anything new.”



% Feeling undervalued by their boss


% Using slow or outdated technological tools


% New processes and changes to processes


% No clear direction on projects or tasks

*Source: The Digital Work Survey 2018 by Wrike

In brief

Shutterstock; Amazon

New research partnership The Institute of Leadership & Management has entered a research partnership with the University of Birmingham to explore the future of leadership, particularly what responsible and sustainable leadership will look like. This partnership is committed to finding new ways of engaging, involving and empowering, as well as new ways of listening and communicating to effect change. The Institute is working with a top-tier team of academics, with expertise across the broadest spectrum of economic, social and environmental responsibility. Our Vision Ambassador,

Professor Kiran Trehan, will lead the project. The inaugural event will take place in Birmingham on 14 June 2018, when Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, will share his own insights into what leading responsibly means to him. Retired sportspeople struggle with mental health Professional sports people often struggle to transition to life after sport, with more than half (54%) having had concerns about their mental and emotional wellbeing since retiring. Research by the Professional Players Federation also found that only four in ten of those who had an issue with their mental and emotional wellbeing

had sought help, while 7% of past players had got support for drug, alcohol or gambling problems. Significantly, while 84% of past players are in employment, self-employed or retired from a second career, most had to accept a drop in salary once they stopped playing. Just over half (52%) of respondents reported financial difficulties in the five years after leaving their sporting career. The research also found that 6% of retired players have taken formal protection from bankruptcy. Colleagues can be a drain on productivity The majority of British employees would work better if their colleagues weren’t

around, according to the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA). Research by the charity, which supports the wellbeing of chartered accountants, found that more than half (59%) of employees believe that their colleagues impact productivity. Gripes included talking or gossiping about work-related things too much (22%) and being quick to complain about workload (20%). Colleagues taking credit for their coworkers’ work was another major annoyance, with one in ten employees flagging this issue. Alarmingly, 28% also said that they have a dispute with a colleague or manager at least once a fortnight.



Employee engagement is a big challenge for leaders


mployee engagement and effective strategy execution are the biggest challenges facing today’s leaders, according to a study of more than 1,200 senior directors and executives. The research by London Business School’s Leadership Institute shows that the other top challenges are talent management, driving work across organisational boundaries, and achieving collaborative working across teams. “These top five issues are all intertwined,” explained Randall S Peterson, the Leadership Institute’s academic director. “Disengaged employees are unable to put strategy into place effectively. Without an effective strategy that the workforce fully supports, organisations suffer and results fall.” The survey also asked respondents about the skills leaders need to be successful. Communicating purpose ranked top. Furthermore, almost 80% of respondents said that change was driven, or mandated, by senior management. Respondents were also grilled on how their organisations deal with failed initiatives. Worryingly, 59% said that the results of failed initiatives are not shared across the organisation, while 11% noted that the individuals involved typically disappeared. Some 14% said that the results are shared but the individuals concerned were often stigmatised. Just 11% stated that results from projects that have failed are celebrated as important learning opportunities.



Catch up with the latest Edge thinking at: www. institutelm.com/research-news/edge-articles.html. Here is an extract from a recent article:


Startups and SMEs seem much more likely to embrace failure than larger organisations. The Institute of Leadership & Management is now chairing an Engage for Success thought and action group. The group has published a research report, sponsored by the Construction Industry Training Board, which shows how engagement is positively affected by a distributed leadership approach. Download the report highlights from bit.ly/2prbHU5

Is humour the best way to inspire employees? Different ways of inspiring employees have been explored in two interesting articles in online business media. At Inc.com, two Stanford professors, who teach a course on the use of humour in business, argue that leaders who are capable of the odd joke here and there tend to build stronger, more creative cultures at their organisations – and even have greater flair for negotiations. One of the lecturers, Professor Jennifer Aaker, explains: “We hear from young leaders about the incredible pressure of being the face of their organisation. Many

struggle because they hold on to the false dichotomy between bringing humour [into the workplace] and taking your work seriously.” She points out: “The right balance of gravity and levity gives power to both.” Over at The Conversation, though, another pair of academics contend that a basic, proactive mindset is missing from too many leaders’ toolkits and, as a result, they’re failing to inspire their staff into action. If leaders are worried that they are failing to inspire their staff, can humour help them out – or is it more of a distraction from weightier forms of management? The Institute of Leadership & Management’s head of research, policy and standards, Kate Cooper, says: “A sense of humour relieves tense situations and helps

to transfer information. It can change the mood of a meeting, it can make dry topics or data come to life, and it can make people relax and become more attentive. It can also act as a buffer against stress. Sharing a joke with someone actually indicates that you have shared values, and are likely to trust them more.” But she also notes: “Of course, humour can also be used really negatively – for example, it can very easily slip into bullying. We’ve found in our research on banter that being the recurrent butt of a joke doesn’t take long to get to the point where it just isn’t funny anymore. So it’s the successful use of humour that elicits these positive feelings.”

To read this article in full, see bit.ly/2FgvVK5




12 Dame Kathy August

Keep working on diverse representation

Confessions of another workaholic I enjoyed reading your leader in the spring 2018 issue of Edge (page 5). I was certainly a workaholic, also without realising it, and was diagnosed with depression two years ago. I do things differently now, after taking the step of creating my own company and no longer having to live with the expectation and demands of being employed. Life is now amazing and full of choices and opportunities. There is a huge positivity here after the darkest days. Please make sure you get the balance right between work and your own time. Vernon Hogg, Hadleigh Management

13 Christopher Hallas


read the spring issue of Edge with interest, and while there were many worthy topics, I would like to offer some gentle feedback about diversity and visible representation. All the contributors who are depicted on page 4 are mainstream people, although I suspect Rita Trehan may be from a BAME (black and minority ethnic) background. The magazine certainly brings an international flavour through the articles, but most of the representations are pictorially mainstream. I was pleased to see some cross-cultural representation in the coaching article and it would be good to see more British-born BAME entrepreneurs and managers placed through articles and comment. I am heavily involved in charity work and am a trustee of several charities in the UK.

Perhaps UK charity leadership may have been highlighted alongside the overseas pictorial representation in order to provide balance? The magazine may give the impression that all charity is overseas. Tod O’Brien FInstLM FCMI, 2B Leadership and Diversity

Update from the Twittersphere Tony Grogan @aimingtoteach Feb 13 @SallyPercy just read your ‘Confessions of a Workaholic’. You nail it with that editorial… Def agree with your sentiments.

LMW @lmwarc Feb 14 We’ve just had a great refresher on developing #strategy thanks to @InstituteLM 49 series of webinars. #WednesdayWisdom #AlwaysLearning

Eve Poole @evepoole Feb 14 Delighted that Leadersmithing is in this edition – find top tips p48-9.

Institute LM @InstituteLM Feb 12 Did you miss @katecooperorg on @BBCBreakfast this morning? Catch up on what she had to say on #SharedParentalLeave here: bbc.in/2EiFyY6

GET IN TOUCH If you would like to share your views on leadership or management, or content that you would like to see in Edge, please email the editor at sally.percy@lidpublishing.com. Letters may be edited for publication.



In possession of hope Ownership is about more than property; it is about having a stake in something that is much bigger than we are


enerally when we think of, and speak about, ownership we are referencing material objects, land and animals – property, in other words. This type of property is tangible and visible. Its identity is recognised by those who possess it, as well as those who don’t. The ownership I am writing about here, while conceptual and often less tangible, is as real as the many pairs of shoes currently in my property. In this case, ownership is having a stake in something – the promise of something to be developed or delivered. In other words, it is the possession of hope. In this sense, ownership has been a touchstone for me in the leadership roles I have fulfilled. If, as leaders, we ask for followership and expect those we lead to invest their intellectual capital in a venture, it is only right that they have a stake in the outcome. It is having this stake that generates the sort of psychic reward that Dan Lortie’s education research in the early 1970s highlighted as being more important than pay to the teachers he questioned. Ownership does not only apply to education. There are many more examples in business. Take the notion of partnership, or something like it, at John Lewis, or the co-worker concept at Ikea, or the development teams at Honda. It is evident in effective organisations of all types, including education, yet it is not consistent right across the system. Does it matter when ownership is absent? I think it does. Those schools where it is lacking are places where staff and students feel dispossessed. There will be a culture of compliance,


Dame Kathy August

but little else. In less challenging environments, the dispossession will be a temporary inconvenience for students, and parents will compensate for the lack of creativity in the classroom. But in more challenging settings, where success relies on staff going the extra mile, the lack of ownership will produce a spiral of decline that is hard to arrest. In the turbulent economic and political world that we currently inhabit, we can feel our destiny spiralling out of any semblance of control. The so-called ‘youthquake’ in English politics has been described as the political awakening of a generation. Commentators have referred to the impact of the student loan issue as having galvanised the vote. But more recent analysis of voting patterns at the 2017 election shows that within the youth vote there was an imbalance. A disproportionate number of votes came from university students, while voters in the same age group, who had different classifications, were underrepresented. Linked to this, Angela Rayner, the shadow secretary of state for education, has highlighted the issue of poor white boys and what happens when sections of society do not feel they have a stake in anything. Student councils and student voices are often cited as a way to address the problem of engagement, but these are just sticking plasters. We need to see ownership as being fundamental and instrumental in enabling organisational cultures to enlighten and engage young people, as well as build their understanding of their role in civic society. Dame Kathy August is a leading educationalist and Ownership Ambassador for the Institute of Leadership & Management. The views expressed here are her own



Leading by example Role models inspire the LGBT+ community


tonewall, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity, published the report Peak Performance in 2008. This report set out the findings of ground-breaking research into the experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in their workplaces. The headline results were clear – people who can be open about their sexuality at work are more likely to enjoy going to work, feel able to be themselves, form honest relationships with colleagues, are more confident, and ultimately are more productive. Thus, apart from the moral case for promoting LGBT+ equality at work, doing so makes good business sense. Another key finding from the research was the importance of LGBT+ role models within the workplace. An environment where senior people visibly identify as LGBT+, or as LGBT+ allies, supports and enables other LGBT+ staff members to be themselves, and encourages their learning, career development and progression. It doesn’t take a great leap in thought to recognise that these findings from research in workplace settings can be applied to wider communities and society at large. Our homes, community groups, networks, schools and other places of learning will be richer, more productive and more successful if LGBT+ diversity is recognised and LGBT+ equalities are firmly established. The same goes for all strands of public life, and even the world of entertainment. Let us take a few examples of everyday happenings to explore the degree to which LGBT+ diversity and equality are recognised in some of these different, wider settings. For starters, there is the family wedding, where a member of the family is invited, but her girlfriend or his husband isn’t included in the invitation. This is a somewhat negative, but fairly common, example.


Christopher Hallas

On the other hand, we have the end-of-school party or ‘prom’, where a gay pupil who dreams of being a drag artist plans to show up as his ‘true self ’. He is supported by family and friends, but is initially let down by school staff members who won’t permit such an appearance. Finally, he overcomes the opposition of those who lobbied against him. Both negatives and positives from within family and school settings abound in this true story, which is set out in the current hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Another example is Girlguiding, the UK’s largest girl-only youth association, which was founded over a century ago. In 2017 it adopted new rules that allow boys who identify as girls to join the Guides, while adults who were born male, but identify as female, can become Guide leaders. These are positive examples of change in regulation and practice.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE ROLE MODELS TO LEARN FROM AND WHO CAN PROVIDE INSPIRATION For LGBT+ people, it’s important to have role models that they can learn from and who can provide inspiration. For example, whether or not people share her political leanings, Justine Greening, as the first out lesbian holding ministerial office in a UK government, served as a trailblazer for many. Parents, teachers, colleagues, managers, politicians, actors and celebrities all demonstrate behaviours that can be emulated by, and inspire, others. As holders of many of these roles ourselves, we can all serve as positive or negative models for members of the LGBT+ community with whom we have contact. Christopher Hallas is a higher education and diversity consultant, and executive director at Trans*formation


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NEWS AND VIEWS 16 News Redeploying military leaders; banter research; events


y daughter, Charlotte, is going to start having driving lessons next month. We have bought her some magnetic L-plates as a gift for her birthday. I remember sporting those when I was learning to drive, sending out a warning to other drivers: “Bear with me, I haven’t quite got the hang of this yet!” I also remember the day I passed my test – OK, it was second time around – and took those learner plates off. So when do we take our L-plates off at work? I guess we have our own symbols to show that someone is learning, as well as our equivalent rites of passage. We complete our probation period, we drop the word ‘trainee’ from our job titles, we qualify and proudly frame our certificates. But I remember how I felt the day after I passed my driving test – the naked anonymity of the car without L-plates and an overwhelming sense that only now was I going to start to learn what driving was really all about. I think leadership is like that. Yes, you can study some useful tools and techniques, and you can learn from the wisdom of others to gain new insights into your daily challenges, but you never stop learning. Leadership, I think, involves a constant negotiation of the T-junctions, U-turns, traffic jams and accidents of everyday organisational life. It’s about letting others take the wheel now and again, and knowing when to ask for directions. Some professional bodies rightly take on the role of driving examiner, as gatekeepers

19 Setting the Standard & Webinars

20 A Day in the Life 21 In the Hot Seat

Keep those L-plates As a leader, you are always learning By

Phil James

for the standards of professional competence. I think the Institute of Leadership & Management has a very special role beyond that. We’re here to help you recognise where you are with your practice and provide you with the means, motivation and mandate to keep learning. If you share my view of the Institute as a ‘community of practice’ (Google ‘Lave and Wenger, 1991’ for the origins of that phrase and its three essential components), then you’ll embrace where we’re going with membership and a new emphasis on engaging with each other. Our new digital experience, MyLeadership, is an invitation to engage through

LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT LETTING OTHERS TAKE THE WHEEL AND KNOWING WHEN TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS learning and learn through engaging. There’s a very good reason why, within an essentially digital medium, all roads lead to a conversation – yes, with a real, live person. If you’re out on the roads, take care. Watch out for Charlotte with her L-plates, and remember she’s not the only one learning. Oh, and take another quick look at our Institute branding. Some people think that the ‘L’ icon stands for ‘leadership’. What do you think? Phil James is chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management To find out more about the Institute’s new digital learning platform, MyLeadership, and how it can help you, see page 82




Banter isn’t always funny

uring the winter and spring of 2018, the Institute took a multi-channel approach to exploring the issue of banter. We carried out an online survey to discover what kind of behaviour our members consider to be banter and where people can cross the line. Institute trustee Stella Chandler also ran a webinar and workshop on banter. She is director of development at Focal Point Training, an organisation that develops strategies to shape workplace behaviour. Additionally, we wrote blogs on the topic, which resulted in discussions that made for interesting reading. Findings from the research showed that 98% of us experience banter at work, with age being a key topic of discussion. The main reasons for participating in banter are to develop relationships with colleagues (77%) and to diffuse workplace tension (59%). Sexual orientation, faith and personal health are unacceptable topics of discussion, however. Workshop delegates unanimously agreed that senior leadership or colleagues had a duty to model appropriate behaviour and be self-aware of their own actions. The existence of office ‘cliques’ was identified as a situation when banter can turn

into excluding behaviour. It was also raised that nicknames can be embarrassing to individuals. Staff can become demoralised when organisations don’t join the dots between their organisational values and code of conduct, or if they don’t address a blame culture. At both events, Chandler offered practical advice on how to design a strategy for dealing effectively with the issue, and creating a truly inclusive workplace. To watch a recording of the webinar, see: bit.ly/2ByJP3Z

Partnering for the future of housing

Date set for 2018 board elections

In February, the Institute announced a new research partnership with the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH). This professional collaboration has been established to provide insights for the CIH, as well as fresh, original research content for the Institute. The core objective of the partnership is to examine the future shape of housing leadership and the perceptions around the challenges associated with succession planning across the sector. We are exploring the skills, knowledge and experience required for the next generation of leaders in the housing sector to ensure that it has a sustainable future. Groups of representatives from across the sector have already shared their views in focus groups. A research report entitled The Future of Leadership in the Housing Sector will be out later this year.

Our 71st annual general meeting (AGM) and Leading Differently conference will take place in London on Thursday 28 June 2018, from 1.30pm until 5pm. In addition to normal business, the Institute will propose changes to its articles of association at the meeting and allow members to vote for a new deputy chair and two new trustees. Voting for new board members opens on 24 May and will close at midnight on Tuesday 26 June. Voting can be done via a proxy vote or postal voting. You will receive communications online and by post. Last year’s combined Multi-dimensional Leader conference and AGM was a success, with high levels of member engagement. Please do use your vote.


Events update To complement the launch of new learning platform MyLeadership, the Institute has devised a series of 49 webinars based on its values of authenticity, vision, collaboration, ownership and achievement. Delivered by industry speakers, the Dimensions of Leadership webinar series has been running every Wednesday since the start of the year. As the webinars are free to join and last just 30 minutes, they make leadership development accessible for everyone. In January, the webinars explored the value of ‘authenticity’. This dimension has many components, including self-awareness, building trust and integrity. ‘Vision’ followed in February and March, with creativity being addressed by an artist, and innovation being discussed by the chief marketing officer of a virtual reality firm. Not only do the webinars explain the Institute’s dimensions in more detail, they are linked with the MyLeadership platform. This platform offers new leaders the opportunity to acquire and test leadership knowledge, and enables more experienced leaders to demonstrate that they meet the Institute standard. Feedback has been positive. “The subject of authentic leadership is one I have taken to,” said one listener. “I value input from a diverse set of people with experience.” Another added: “A good webinar, with great information and advice, which I shall be sharing with my management team.” The value of ‘achievement’ was discussed in March and April, while webinars on ‘ownership’ and ‘collaboration’ are scheduled for May and June. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to develop your leadership skills. Sign up for the webinars at: bit.ly/2ws1doo


Joel Blake OBE: ambassador role To fufil its vision of inspiring great leadership everywhere, the Institute of Leadership & Management has brought a new ambassador on board in 2018 to provide additional expertise and leadership. We are delighted to announce that businessman and keynote speaker Joel Blake OBE will be our Achievement Ambassador, bringing his unique mindset and viewpoint to the Institute’s research programme. He says: “I believe that entrepreneurship is a mindset, which can harness the latent potential found within everyone, enabling them to achieve great success, regardless of any difference they may have.” The Institute believes that an achievement orientation is about having purpose, delivering outcomes, being proud of one’s work, stretching oneself and others, and being willing to adapt as necessary. Furthermore, achievement requires ongoing engagement in activities that improve performance. MEMBERS LOVE... The seven most-read News & Views articles from our website between November 2017 and January 2018 were:


Student Member activations*


New Professional Member activations*


New Fellows* * December 2017 – February 2018

1 How to resist the pull of imposter syndrome 2 Leadership lessons from Santa 3 Should leaders always accentuate the positive in performance reviews? 4 How should leaders decide when, and to whom, to delegate? 5 Why introversion can be a valuable leadership quality 6 How should bosses motivate staff to open 2018 with a bang?

SHARE YOUR RESEARCH If you have undertaken any research into leadership and management, written a paper or participated in a best-practice case study, we want to hear about it. We may even be able to feature it in Edge. Email us at: research@institutelm.com

To access the resources, which are exclusive to members, log into your web account

7 Is intelligence overrated in leadership and management? To read these articles in full, visit: bit.ly/2F2yAHe

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e have launched ‘Dimensions of Leadership’ with a free webinar series that explores our 49 components of great leadership. We began with authenticity because we believe it is at the heart of great leadership. Yet it is also the most difficult dimension to discuss. Even when we break it down into its eight components, authenticity is challenging to convey – not just because of its complexity, but also because its dimensions are so personal to each individual leader. A starting point for authentic leadership is finding out about oneself. The Johari Window model can help us to improve our self-awareness. It explains there are things that are open (what both we and others know about ourselves); things that are hidden (what we know about ourselves that others don’t); things that we are blind to (what others know about us that we aren’t consciously aware of); and there is the unknown. Authentic leadership requires us to explore our blind spots. Self-awareness is about knowing what we really bring to a team, project or idea, and accepting where we need other people to supplement our strengths so we can deliver better results. Authentic leadership also encompasses ethics, integrity, and recognising and living our values. Working for an organisation that shares our values gives us purpose in life and creates deeper engagement and job satisfaction. We need to challenge those around us to be the best they can be, and be brave when we see a lack of integrity or poor decision-making in others. Authentic leaders create an environment where people are supported, cared for and nurtured. Through our own research in 2015, which explored your experience of the practice of

Talking of authenticity Conversation begets great leadership practice By

Kate Cooper


leadership, we discovered how important trust is. Trust is the very foundation of authenticity, because having our colleagues’ trust is critical. We are forgiving of people who may not deliver great results but who are honestly and authentically doing their best, because we trust they are giving 100%. There is an eighth element to authenticity that we have identified and which really brings this all to life – and that is conversation. It is in conversation that we demonstrate our integrity, talk about making ethical decisions, and communicate why we have taken a particular course of action. In conversation, we challenge others to achieve their potential, or to be more ethical, and discover whether our values are aligned with the people around us. Critically, it is when our actions align with our words that we create trust.

USE EVERY CONVERSATION AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEMONSTRATE YOUR AUTHENTICITY AS A LEADER So how do we know that our behaviours are improving in these areas? A brilliant place to start is by reading and discussing our Leadership Essentials leaflets with your teams, watching our online videos, joining our free webinars, listening to the experiences of the presenters and completing the scorecards. I urge you to take advantage of our resources to develop yourself and your teams. Use every conversation as an opportunity to demonstrate your authenticity as a leader – because that is a brilliant way of learning about leadership. It is in these conversations where learning really happens.

Kate Cooper is head of research, policy and standards at the Institute of Leadership & Management

WEBINARS The Institute runs free ‘Learn at Lunch’ 30-minute webinars most Wednesdays from 1-1.30pm. To find out more, visit www.institutelm.com/events/ webinars.html

Check out these webinars, which you may have missed: Authenticity: Conversation 17 January 2018 bit.ly/2EZXuTH

Authenticity: Ethics 24 January 2018 bit.ly/2EXG6Di

Authenticity: Building Trust 7 February 2018 bit.ly/2nHWwVG




Hollie Woodard

Developing a diversity and inclusion strategy for a large construction company makes for a busy life


ost mornings I wake at around 6am. I have started using my Fitbit silent alarm, which is a calmer way to wake up than a noisy alarm clock. If I’m travelling to London, then I get up slightly earlier to catch a 7am train. The first thing I do is jump in the shower. Then I get myself ready before waking my daughter. I tend to have a coffee or smoothie at home and a bowl of cereal once I’m in the office. I leave home in the car at about 7.45am and drop my daughter at her friend’s house, ready to walk to school later in the morning. I live in a small Yorkshire village and it takes around 30 minutes to drive to the VolkerWessels office in Doncaster. For me, a typical morning involves catching up on any emails and making sure I am properly prepared for meetings. Each day is different, but my schedule usually requires me to liaise with both colleagues and external clients. I work closely with our HR teams in the different business units and also with our bid teams to understand what support they need to answer questions in tender documents. I am head of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at construction company VolkerWessels UK. The fact this role even exists is a real step-change for our organisation, because the UK construction and rail industry, in general, is behind the times in this area. VolkerWessels recognises that to futureproof our business we need to appeal to a much wider talent pool, which is why equality, diversity and inclusion are so important. As a company, we are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for everyone


we work with. That includes our dedicated and ambitious people, our supply chain, our partners, our clients and our local stakeholders. Since my role is a relatively new one, my current responsibilities revolve around developing an EDI strategy. I’m trying to raise awareness of what diversity and inclusion means – it’s not just about attracting more women to the industry, but also attracting talent across different ages, backgrounds and races. Once our people understand how EDI is relevant to them, we can focus on changing not only our own organisation, but the industry as a whole, as well as society more broadly. I update our leaders on my progress at senior management meetings. At lunchtime, I usually eat something from home, but if I am travelling, I’ll grab something on the go. The afternoon tends to be taken up with meetings or calls, and also with writing action plans or meeting minutes. I finish work at around 4.30pm if I am in the Doncaster office. I try to vary what I eat for dinner and always have a cooked meal – even if it is something from the freezer that I prepared in advance at the weekend. After dinner, I might help my daughter with her homework or watch some television. I’ve just moved house, so some evenings are still taken up with emptying boxes of things that I probably won’t even use. My pre-sleep ritual is pretty basic. I tuck my daughter into bed, then clean my face, brush my teeth and try to wind down. Occasionally, I read a book. I go to bed at around 9pm during the week and I try to get a good eight hours’ sleep. Hollie Woodard is head of equality, diversity and inclusion at VolkerWessels UK

If you would like to feature in A Day in the Life, email sally.percy@lidpublishing.com


Member Q&A



Christopher Allen This month, Edge meets Christopher Allen, head of workplace consulting at Morgan Lovell

What does good leadership mean to you?

mistake. There is a lack of coaching and mentoring for mid to senior management; likewise for the digitally challenged.

Good leadership is everything. It must provide opportunities for great work. Then it is about confidently taking responsibility and accountability for the outcomes. It’s about inspiring people. It’s also about being open and available to your team and your clients, quickly getting to the heart of the matter, doing everything you might expect your team to do, and engaging with them on every level.

In terms of your own development, what are you focusing on? I am focusing on growing my team, both in terms of capacity and capability. I am also establishing myself, and my ideas, within Morgan Lovell and raising the profile of what we do. A major part of this involves challenging the past and seeking to create the next generation of workplace outcomes to meet the demands of contemporary work styles.

What are your main leadership and management challenges?

How do you develop your people?

My previous life in the military gave me access to some amazing training and development opportunities. I know the value these experiences have added to my own professional development. So I find it hard when I see other leaders and managers who are clearly capable of excellence, yet would benefit from similar opportunities. My passion, professionally speaking, is people development. That’s why I challenge myself to – sometimes covertly – coach for the benefit of individuals and, of course, for Morgan Lovell.

I believe in giving them the freedom to work creatively, instead of introducing constraints that cap their thinking. Our people have great ideas and broad skills that are vital to our successful team. Development chats are frequent, informal and tracked. If they are inexperienced, I coach more and step in when necessary. I encourage them to establish or expand professional memberships for the benefit of their work and development.

How does the landscape of your sector feed in to those challenges? My sector, workplace strategy, is relatively buoyant at present, although it is facing new challenges from decreasing lease terms, as well as the rise of co-working hubs and the gig economy. I see training and development taking place, but not all is correctly targeted. Neither is it viewed as a career-long journey, but more as something aimed at the young and inexperienced, which is a


Do you have any suggestions for where the Institute of Leadership & Management should focus its efforts from a policy perspective? It should keep challenging the status quo in different areas such as behaviours, pay, presenteeism, space, technology and trust. Would you like to feature in the Hot Seat? Email sally.percy@lidpublishing.com


The Edge Interview

Alison Russell-Brookes

Learning on the front line As the world becomes more complex and ambiguous, the RAF is investing heavily in the intellectual capital of its personnel Writing Sally Percy

Photography Tom Campbell


o one can accuse Alison Russell-Brookes of neglecting her learning. She is juggling her day job as chief of staff, Training Wing, at RAF Halton with studying for an MBA in educational leadership with the Institute of Education at University College London. Her dedication to earning a master’s degree is particularly impressive, given that she already has an MSc in leadership studies from Cranfield University. Learning, it seems, is very important to Russell-Brookes. “You’ve got to learn something every day to continue to be the best you can be,” she says. “It’s remarkably arrogant to think you don’t have anything to learn. Learning keeps you adaptable and open to changes in the world.” RAF Halton, where Russell-Brookes is based, is one of the UK’s most historic Royal Air Force (RAF) stations. Situated in rural Buckinghamshire, its primary role is to train military personnel at various stages of their careers. Russell-Brookes is second-in-command of the Training Wing

and describes her role as being like a “deputy head teacher or a chief operations officer of an organisation that comprises three schools”. These three schools are the Recruit Training Squadron, which delivers basic military training to new RAF entrants; the Airmen’s Command Squadron, which delivers more advanced leadership and management training; and the Specialist Training Squadron, which is staffed by civilians and delivers specialist training in areas such as health and safety and quality assurance to the RAF and other Ministry of Defence organisations. Both inside and outside its formal training environments, the RAF believes in teaching its personnel to be adaptable. “The RAF really encourages people to be agile thinkers and to tackle problems in new ways so that they can seize the operational initiative,” explains Russell-Brookes. “The challenge for leadership is to provide an environment in which innovation is nurtured and encouraged. This requires a really strong risk management culture, where risk is recognised, recorded and managed properly.”



The Edge Interview

When Russell-Brookes joined the RAF in 2001, aged 26, she was fulfilling a long-cherished dream – or almost. As a teenager, she learned to fly with the Air Training Corps and longed to be a navigator on a Hercules transport aircraft. At 19, she applied to join the RAF but suffered a “massive crisis of conscience” because the law forbade her – as a gay woman – from joining the forces. “I had this massive ethical dilemma,” she says. “It was the one thing I had always wanted to do, and had worked so hard for, but technically I wasn’t allowed to do it.” Since she wasn’t prepared to conceal the truth about her sexual orientation, she withdrew her application. “It was heart-wrenching,” she says. “But my values are very much based on authenticity and being genuine, so if I can’t be myself in a situation, then that’s not a situation I want to be in. Also, I think you can only give your best if you can be yourself. If you have to devote energy to maintaining a facade, that precludes you from performing to your full potential.” Instead, Russell-Brookes joined the West Yorkshire Police and spent three formative years on duty in the South Leeds area. The area was fraught with racial tension and was also home to a high number of heroin addicts. “I saw social deprivation on a level that astounded me, and colleagues who were stabbed with hypodermic needles,” she says. “Nothing that the armed forces could ever do would put me in as much fear as I felt on some occasions when I was in the police. But it was character-building and made me the person I am today.”

Fulfilling ambition In 2000, the government lifted the ban on gay men and women serving in the armed forces and Russell-Brookes could finally fulfil her ambition to join the RAF. “I sent in my application the same day that the ban was lifted,” she recalls, “and I joined a year later.” Unfortunately, at that point she was two weeks too old to be a Hercules navigator, so hadn’t quite fulfilled her dream. But at least she could embark on her officer training at RAF Cranwell without having to pretend to be someone she was not. “I was the first openly gay officer cadet they had at Cranwell, so I was held up as an example of the RAF’s commitment to diversity,” explains Russell-Brookes. “It was a tiny bit frustrating to be pigeon-holed like that, but it was important to get good news stories out there so early after the lifting of the ban. Not once in my RAF career have I encountered any negativity towards my sexual orientation. I take great pride in the fact that when I speak to new recruits, they cannot believe that less than 20 years ago, you


could be kicked out of the services, and be sent to military prison, because of who you fell in love with. They find that ridiculous.” Nevertheless, diversity in general remains a challenge for the RAF today, as it does for the other armed forces. The UK armed forces biannual diversity statistics, published in November 2017, revealed that women make up 10.3% of the UK regular forces, with black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people constituting just 7.5% of all personnel. Women make up 14.1% of the RAF, but BAME personnel are just 2.2%. Russell-Brookes entered the RAF as a security officer and has spent much of her career with the force in security and intelligence. Her most challenging posting to date was when she was sent to

Alison Russell-Brookes

LEADERSHIP LESSONS Who is your real-life leadership inspiration? “The single biggest influence on me was my chief inspector when I was in the civilian police. He was a shambolic leader who treated people abhorrently. I looked at him and thought: ‘If I am ever in a leadership position, I will never, ever do the things that you do.’” What does a good leader look like? “A good leader will demonstrate honesty and integrity, and acknowledge that they are fallible. He or she will also give other people the opportunity to blossom.” What’s the greatest challenge you’ve faced? “My posting in Afghanistan, although I didn’t realise it until afterwards. I learned some big lessons about my character and leadership by reflecting and dealing with the frustration and anger I felt.” And the most important leadership lesson? “Be authentic. People don’t want robots as leaders. They want a genuine human being who has emotions, weaknesses and worries, just like everybody else.” What’s the secret to your own success? “I’m morally courageous and try to do the right thing. I firmly believe in speaking the truth to those in power.” What do you like about being a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management? “I like the fact it brings a network that gives you diversity of thought. It enables me to speak to people in the private sector, or the charity sector, and say: ‘How would you go about dealing with this?’” How do you relax at the end of a day? “I read, watch TED Talks or listen to podcasts. I feel content knowing I’ve just learned something I knew nothing about.”

Afghanistan for seven months in 2012. At the time, the number of attacks on UK service personnel by the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police was rising, partly as a result of cultural differences. She was tasked with investigating the reasons for the attacks and delivering cultural sensitivity training to UK services personnel. “They already had some cultural sensitivity training in the UK, but the fatigue associated with a conflict situation means people end up overlooking the small but critical sensitivities, and forgetting what they have been taught,” RussellBrookes explains. “It might be something as simple as a squaddie breaking wind in public, but talking through an issue doesn’t happen in Afghan culture. If somebody is offended, they can quite easily take


out a rifle and show you that they’re offended. The tension can go from zero to ‘somebody’s going to get shot’ in a flash.”

Leadership challenges For Russell-Brookes, the real leadership challenge associated with the role was this: “For the first time ever, I had to send my guys and girls into harm’s way. Now, that might sound strange because I’m in the military, but I wasn’t an infantry officer on the front line. I had spent the whole of my career sitting behind a desk, directing people to do investigations. I never had to consciously make a decision about somebody’s physical safety before. Thank goodness nobody was injured or killed, but it could possibly have happened.” She continues: “I didn’t realise how much of an effect that had on me until I came back from Afghanistan and went through that whole reflection piece. I was really troubled because I questioned my preparedness for making decisions of that magnitude. It was one of the biggest learning experiences I’ve had in the RAF because it was so unfamiliar and unlike anything else I’d ever had to do.” Another significant milestone in RussellBrookes’ leadership development was the period she spent on secondment with the US Air Force in 2017. Based in the Middle East, she was in charge of a communications messaging campaign that encouraged low-level ISIS fighters to throw down their arms. She used the campaign to develop three young, “exceptionally intelligent” captains who had never had the chance to fully stretch their creative talents in the past. In all, just over two million leaflets were dropped from US Air Force aircraft during the holy month of Ramadan. They were written in Arabic and illustrated with traditional Islamic imagery. Messaging was also delivered through other media including radio, TV and websites. “It was a massive process, but really rewarding because it allowed those three young officers to really show what they could do when they were given the space to be creative and really think for themselves,” says Russell-Brookes. Today, Russell-Brookes believes her biggest leadership challenge at work is using technology to overhaul the RAF’s traditional approach to learning. “There’s a requirement to reduce the training burden by 30%,” she explains. “So we’re working out how to embrace technology and new ways of learning, so more is learned through coaching, mentoring and on the job, and less by formal courses and sitting in a classroom.” Meanwhile, in her own time, she’s still wrestling with that MBA. “People look at me as if I’ve gone mad,” she says. “But as long as I can say that I’ve learned a lesson every day, I feel in a really good place.” Sally Percy is editor of ‘Edge’

CAREER TIMELINE 1997 – 2000 Police constable, West Yorkshire Police 2001 – 2010 Police and security officer, various RAF stations 2010 – 2012 Head of professional standards department, Headquarters RAF Police 2012 Officer commanding counterintelligence and security unit, Camp Bastion, Afghanistan 2012 – 2013 Officer commanding police and security squadron, Northwood Headquarters 2013 – 2014 Business manager, Headquarters 22 (Training) Group 2014 – 2016 Military assistant to the commandant, Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham 2017 Deputy chief information operations, US Air Force 2016 – present Chief of staff, Training Wing, RAF Halton Not-for-profit role 2009 – 2013 Constituent body honorary secretary, Rugby Football Union

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28 Developing a growth-minded culture

32 Drew Povey of Educating Greater Manchester

36 Learning from mistakes: make it easy to own up

38 How River Island enables its people to succeed



Organisational Development


Prepare for the unexpected In a rapidly changing world, in which the economy is increasingly powered by knowledge, learning is an essential part of future-proofing both individuals and organisations Writing Georgina Fuller

Illustration Stephen Collins


s the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once reportedly said: “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” Knowledge and learning were greatly revered in Greek and Roman times and, it could be argued, have had something of a renaissance in recent years in the corporate world. Technological advances, the increasing focus on CPD (continuous professional development), and the appointment of chief learning officers (CLOs) in many major organisations, have put lifelong learning and instilling a growth-minded culture at the top of the business agenda.

Ready for take-off Nigel Jeremy, CLO at British Airways (BA), says it’s critically important for business leaders to keep on learning throughout their careers. “When you consider the economic, political, social and


technological changes we see, both at home and abroad, and the pace at which these changes continue to happen, it’s essential that leaders continue to learn,” he notes. The fact that we now have a combination of five different generations in the workplace, from Generation Z to Traditionalists born before 1945, also means leaders need to understand how to keep them motivated and engaged, says Jeremy. BA, for example, provides a range of learning opportunities for managers, including internal programmes, management briefings, courses at business schools, coaching and mentoring, and online learning schemes. “We have an expectation that colleagues and line managers help and support each other to learn as part of everyday practice,” says Jeremy. “We also promote self-led learning as much as possible, and our internal communications department provides market and industry updates to all our colleagues daily.” Jeremy believes that learning rests on creating a growth-minded sub culture and sees his role, as CLO, as being the same as any other



leader. “It’s my job to deliver the mission, vision and business plan for the organisation, so that it can continue to succeed in the future,” he notes. “It’s just done in the context of leading what needs to be achieved from a learning perspective, to get the best outcome for the organisation, its customers and its shareholders.” BA is looking at technological advances to ensure its learning appeals to the different demographic groups within the organisation. “More employees than ever now expect to learn much more online and have immediate access to learning,” says Jeremy. “The demand and supply has at last started to match up and I expect to see some exciting developments in the years to come in smart, virtual, real-time learning technology.”

Whose responsibility is it anyway? Education and technology writer Audrey Watters has concerns, however, that the fashion for so-called ‘lifelong learning’ is actually shifting the burden of professional development away from the organisation and on to the individual. “In some ways, I think that talk of ‘growth mindsets’ is getting a little overplayed,” she notes. “It shouldn’t simply be the responsibility of the employee to have a growth mindset and be willing to learn and grow. It should be about fostering a culture where that can happen.” Organisations should be investing, quite literally, in the long-term intellectual development of their employees, according to Watters. So how can organisations make sure that all their employees have access to a good learning platform and the chance to continue learning collaboratively throughout their careers?

“Learning platforms are a great way for employees to have access to content, experts and authorities on a range of subjects, all in one convenient place,” says Christian Smythe, head of content and partner strategy at collaborative learning platform BlueBottleBiz. “But it is essential that a third-party learning process is completed thoroughly and the user experience is constantly monitored. A transparent system of communication between learner and manager is crucial for success.” Jane Hart, modern workplace learning adviser at the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, says that business leaders should take an interest in the personal growth of each member

PERCEPTIONS OF LEADERS IN THE DIGITAL AGE The alarming speed at which information is exchanged today, and the rise of learning through social media channels, could potentially dilute the power and validity of knowledge, according to Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards at the Institute of Leadership & Management. “When it comes to things such as ‘fake news,’ for example, which is generally ill-informed and non-evidence based, it can sometimes be difficult for the readers and consumers to discern its validity,” she notes. Donald Trump frequently claims he is on the receiving end of fake news, and was reported to be acting as executive producer on the next series of The Celebrity Apprentice in addition to being US president. A day after this news was broadcast on CNN in December 2016, Trump tweeted that the story was fake. He has, according to The New Yorker, since tweeted about fake news more than 150 times,


including posts that vent his apparent frustration over the coverage of his administration’s response to the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico last year. Education and technology writer Audrey Watters says that the digital age has severely undermined the concept of ‘expertise’, although she points out that fake news is something that actually predates the present technological era. “The classic example in the US is the incorrect reporting in The New York Times on Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction,” she says. The problem, Watters believes, is that a plethora of ill-informed and unsubstantiated reports have eroded our trust in leaders. “The institutions we were supposed to trust to help us understand and navigate the world – universities, journalism, the government, the banking system, the Church and so on – have proven unreliable,” she says.

Organisational Development

Right Jenny Dearborn is CLO of software group SAP

THE RISE OF THE CLO Who are they and what do they do?

Georgina Fuller is a freelance journalist, editor and digital content provider

Dr Jonathan Passmore, director of the Centre for Coaching and Behavioural Change at Henley Business School, says that social media can be a great way for leaders to engage and influence their audience. “This can be through using ‘old-fashioned’ tweets to get their message out at 1am, or using 60-second webcasts to communicate key messages and update on what’s happening across the business, each day.” Jane Hart, modern workplace learning adviser at the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, says leaders and thinkers of the future will have to learn to decipher and validate different forms of so-called ‘news’. “Fake news does not just come from opinions, it comes from other sources, including mainstream media, so individuals will need skills to locate new knowledge, validate the authenticity of what they find, as well as make sense of it, and then share it discriminately,” she comments.

INSTITUTE RESOURCES FOR LEADERSHIP LEARNING The Institute of Leadership & Management has launched MyLeadership, its own learning platform. For more, see page 82 or visit myleadershipinstitutelm. com/app#/mlo

Chief learning officers (CLOs) are increasingly popular appointments among blue-chip multinationals and global consultancy firms. British Airways, Deloitte, KPMG, McKinsey & Co, Mars, SAP and Unilever are just some of the big names that employ their own CLO. So, what’s their remit? A primary part of a CLO’s role should be about helping people to prepare for the unexpected, says Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards at the Institute of Leadership & Management. “It’s about getting people futureready and helping them to select and define a new solution. Whether that relates to products, future markets or technology, people need to be equipped with the right knowledge and skills.” Cooper still believes in the role of the ‘expert’ and does not favour the ‘fast food’ approach to learning. “When it comes to CLOs, we have to look at how they can communicate and embed new knowledge and learning, and whether there is sufficient depth to it,” she notes. “You can never regret learning a new thing, whether it’s learning how to speak French or to ride a horse.” According to Jane Hart, modern workplace learning adviser at the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, the role of the CLO is to build a broader, more effective learning and development service for the modern workplace. “That is not just providing modern training and performance support, but working with managers and individuals to enable and support continuous independent learning,” she notes.

Chris Hardy

of their team. “Leaders need to help their team identify the most appropriate routes to success for them. And, what is more, they need to provide some regular ‘protected learning time’ that individuals can devote to achieving defined professional goals, reflection and sharing of new experiences, learning and skills,” she says. Development also involves asking the right questions, according to Hart. “One simple question leaders could ask at every opportunity is: ‘What did you learn today?’ This sets continuous learning at the heart of the team culture, and shows the team how important it is.” Karen Hughes, head of organisational development at United Utilities, believes that organisations should be taking a more holistic approach to learning and development. “The business landscape has become increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA),” she notes. “In a VUCA world, everything is interconnected and no one can predict what big changes are coming next.” United Utilities, for example, aims to recognise that organisational development goes beyond the siloed view of ‘training’ and should appeal to all people from the ages of 18 to 80. “We want to help break down barriers so that employees can see a career path rather than a training menu, and to encourage a broader spectrum of individuals to take their career as far as they want to, regardless of background or the route through which they joined the company,” says Hughes. “It’s about diversity, which leads to new ways of thinking and, ultimately, faster business evolution.”




Class act Headteacher Drew Povey turned around Harrop Fold School and devised his own leadership model in the process Writing Peter Crush

Photography Jill Jennings


rew Povey, headteacher at Harrop Fold School in Salford, might be more familiar to some as the unlikely star of Channel 4’s hit programme Educating Greater Manchester. But it’s his approach to leadership – turning around a failing school – that has resulted in the Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management receiving plenty of welldeserved praise. His approach is set out in his book Educating Drew: The Real Story of Harrop Fold School. In this Q&A, he talks to Edge about his views on leadership and why he believes he’s “only average on a good day”.

What role did you play in turning it around?

Q In 2003, a damning Ofsted report criticised Harrop Fold for providing “a very poor standard of education”, and the school entered special measures. A decade later, it finally earned a prized ‘good’ rating from the education inspectorate.

Q What happened next?

A I joined Harrop Fold in 2006, as deputy head, so I knew what its problems were. When I became head in January 2010, I stated my leadership position very clearly. This really helped me because it meant I set the tone for, and managed expectations around, what was to come. I remember telling the governors that I was only interested in doing what was best for the school, its kids and the community, and if they wanted a yes-man or a politician, I wasn’t their man. Some people have called this being maverick, but I prefer to stick to my principles. In essence, though, I basically told them that I’d do whatever it takes to get things done, even if it made me unpopular – and that they had better be prepared for it. A People often think I was a knight in shining armour, riding in to the rescue. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. I genuinely think I was able to start solving the school’s problems by

Drew Povey



not bringing with me any cognitive bias. Academics talk of needing a ‘beginner’s mindset’, and that’s what I believe I had. I pulled all the teachers together and explained to them what I thought we needed to do. The ‘we’ bit was very important. I never told them what to do; all I said was that we needed to do things together. By asking them what they thought, we came up with cost-saving ideas that meant we actually produced our first level budget later that year. Not everyone bought into this, but I told colleagues that I was no good to them sweating things out by myself. By being cooperative and talkative, I created the psychological safety for people to come up with ideas. I wanted to give other people a chance to be amazing. I feel few people are actually given this chance by leaders in organisations today. Together, we succeeded in underfunding the school – but without ever shortchanging the kids – and since I’ve been head, we’ve paid off half our £3.2 million debt – an amount critics said we’d never be able to get rid of. Q You were only 32 – one of the youngest school leaders in the country – when you became head. Were you conscious you would need to work harder to get respect?

A Oh absolutely. I never actually wanted to be head, and to this day, I only believe I’m an OK one. But I said to colleagues I’d do what it takes. What’s worked in my favour has been having a side-career in sports performance that I’ve voluntarily taken on by working with local rugby teams. This has given me the ability to talk clearly and consistently about marginal gains, high performance and behaviour management. I’m also a voracious reader. I’ve risen at 5am every morning for the last ten years to do an hour’s leadership learning, so in that sense I’m a leadership geek, but at least I’m one who’s able to convey that he knows what he’s talking about. A great advantage of doing all this is that I feel I’ve


Drew Povey


filtered out what I think is the ‘leadership nonsense’ from the ‘leadership useful’, so I’m able to come up with ideas that I hope will inspire people. A leader who tries to lead without anyone following them is really just someone going for a walk! Q Do the lessons you’ve learned from your turnaround process translate to the wider business community?

A Leadership is leadership – in the sense that it always plugs into whichever organisation you belong to. What we’ve done at Harrop, however, has been converted into a model I call ‘the triple-X approach’ – expectation, execution and excellence. I give consultancy advice to other organisations using this model, with all proceeds going back to the school. In a nutshell, it starts with the fact that leaders must address expectations – such as lack of aspiration – so they can execute their plans with more precision. Excellence is all about doing business transformation by marginal gains. We’ve tested this methodology in different organisations and seen whether it has worked or not, so there is real quantitative rigour behind it. I think this is different from how most other leadership programmes run. Q Is this just another leadership model that tries to reinvent the wheel?

A Undoubtedly there is a lot of leadership rhetoric floating about, and I’m very conscious that people might see my approach as being yet more of the same. But I fundamentally believe that most businesses are over-managed and under-led. Leadership does make the biggest difference, but people fear it. There is a perception that leaders somehow need to be charismatic or be great transformers, but some of the quietest people I know have been the best leaders. We also have a skewed view that all leaders must be at the top of organisations. In my school, everyone is a leader and everyone’s view matters. Q So what sort of leader are you?

A It’s a difficult question! I certainly know that I’m only average on a good day and that I’m still trying to improve. What I do know is that 450 leadership books in (and counting), I’m learning and still picking up new things I hope I can apply. Wherever I can, though, I like to keep my stewardship simple. Leadership guru Jim Collins writes that when things go right, the best leaders look at their people, and when things go wrong, they look in the mirror. That’s a sentiment I like to try and follow. I’ll say it every time I’m asked – the best leaders talk to their teams, and their teams cascade it down. Peter Crush is an award-winning freelance business journalist and editor


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Owning up is easy We get more out of our mistakes if we work in an environment where there is no shame in admitting to them Writing Tracy Powley


here is plenty of advice around concerning the importance of learning from mistakes and cultivating a ‘growth mindset’ in order to continually improve. And it’s all good, solid guidance. But what is often not

considered is that there is a dual responsibility to ensure this is really possible. We are encouraged, as the person who made the mistake, to be honest and open about it, and to be prepared to analyse what went wrong. But responsibility also lies with those around us, specifically our managers, to ensure the environ-

Learning From Mistakes

ment is such that we feel able and comfortable to own up to our mistakes – and that this environment is nurtured and maintained.

Managing the cost of human error A few months ago, Stella, my business partner, was embarking on a week of business travel. It wasn’t until she got to the train station that she realised she had picked up the wrong set of train tickets. The pack for her week’s travel was sitting in a neat pile back on her desk and she had picked up the pack for the following week. It was an easy mistake to make (the two packs looked almost identical), but her mistake had a significant cost implication for a small business. Because Stella felt able to own up quickly, we were able to act swiftly as well, minimising the impact of her error. Any delay in admitting what had happened would have resulted in more cost. She was able to admit to this mistake because she felt comfortable with those around her. She knew, for example, that there would be no eye rolling, tut-tutting or sarcastic remarks. A willingness to be open and honest is key. In 2008, The Guardian cited occupational psychologist Dr Peter Honey’s three-point plan for making sure you learn from any mistakes: “First, there needs to be an honest assessment of the whole situation. Next, you need to tease out some lessons – could you improve any processes so that this cannot happen again? Lastly, work out how, specifically, you would implement the lessons learned, so they’re not just left as good intentions.” Again, this is sound advice, but there is a vital additional factor, which will enable learning from mistakes to happen: other people’s responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment in which it is possible for the person to own up.


Black box thinking Partly this means no blaming or finger pointing in the moment. Partly it means analysing, in a supportive way, what went wrong after the problem has been dealt with. But it also means not referring back to the mistake time and time again afterwards. Once a workplace incident ‘passes into folklore’, as we often term it, the story of that incident can become very wearing. More critically, it can prevent people from being so open and honest next time something goes wrong. Imagine what would happen if Debbie, our support manager, and I started to quip to Stella every time she went on an extended spell of travel: “Are you sure you’ve got the right tickets this time?” However well-meaning we were, it is likely we would start to make Stella feel uncomfortable and less than competent. And once we feel inade-


TURNING NEGATIVES INTO POSITIVES How can you create an environment where it’s safe to learn from mistakes? 2 Ensure that learning from mistakes is part of your behavioural framework or team expectations. Talk about how important it is to see mistakes as a way of progressing and getting better at something. 2 As a manager, make sure you are the role model – be prepared to be open and honest when things have not gone according to plan, and share your experiences with the team. 2 Proactively look for opportunities to draw learning from different situations. Many teams feel under such time pressure that they don’t evaluate tasks and projects. Make this a key part of what you do. 2 When people make a mistake, don’t dwell on it. Mistakes can often lead


to jokes, sarcastic comments and even give rise to nicknames – none of which will make people feel happy to share mistakes in the future. 2 After mistakes have been made, focus on drawing positive lessons from the situation. We associate mistakes with things going wrong, but there is often a positive outcome. 2 If mistakes have been made, make an effort to catch people doing something right. Then give them feedback on how they have positively implemented the learning. 2 Create support networks. Peer support, in particular, can give people an opportunity to talk through issues and mistakes, and solve problems more effectively.

quate or exposed in this way, most of us will start to close down as a form of self-preservation. One sector that seems to get this open environment right is the airline industry, where people place a huge emphasis on learning from mistakes. There, they dub this approach ‘black box thinking’. Since it operates in a field where mistakes can be devastating, the industry actively shares examples of where things have gone wrong, so that everyone can learn from those errors and improve safety. How many industries can truly say that they take the same approach? In his book Black Box Thinking, author Matthew Syed suggests that one of the key barriers to progress is not a lack of resources or time, but a culture of “evasion and covering up”. He talks about needing a “progressive attitude to failure” and how all workplaces can be more successful with open reporting and honest evaluation. In an environment where people are actively encouraged to share mistakes and learning, continuous improvement is more likely. We were able to share Stella’s train ticket mistake at our next team meeting as a way to reinforce how vital it is for us all to feel comfortable about owning up – and that we all have a responsibility to create this environment. The challenge, of course, is to identify which practical steps managers and teams can take to create that open environment and, more importantly, how they can maintain it. Tracy Powley is director of operations at Focal Point Training and Consultancy



Tailored for success River Island’s learning strategy is heavily influenced by individual preferences and commercial imperatives


eople are at the heart of all that we do at River Island, so we have a strategic focus on investing in our people’s development and career progression. We want to attract and retain the best talent in the industry, as well as develop world-class management and leadership skills. Recently, we have been approved as an apprenticeship-employer provider – an employer that delivers some, or all, of the off-the-job training element of an apprenticeship to their own staff. This shows our commitment to developing our people to be the best they can be.

Writing Mike Collins and Nebel Crowhurst


As we have a philosophy of employee-led career development at River Island, we encourage our people to take ownership of the time they spend learning and developing new skills. We consciously do not measure hours spent, since this would go against our culture of continuous improvement. Our focus instead is on developing curiosity and a growth mindset, where people can find and discover topics that are of interest to them and help them be better at their jobs. We have aligned our measurements and data to questions around engagement and relevance, rather than time spent learning or the number of classroom hours delivered.

Case Study River Island

We base the way in which we support learning in our organisation on the 70:20:10 ratio (70% experiential, 20% social and 10% formal). This framework ensures that we are always maximising opportunities for people to learn. We have worked hard to raise awareness and educate our colleagues that learning doesn’t just happen in a classroom. We encourage a true learning culture by distancing the organisation from the notion that learning is separate from working. Both go hand-in-hand. The growth and accessibility of digital tools have provided new opportunities for our people to consume new knowledge, find resources or connect with other colleagues. This is a big focus for us and our employee engagement scores recognise that we have made a big investment in transforming the way in which we support people development.

River Island

The business case for learning We strive to continually demonstrate the business impact of learning. To do this, we work closely with key business areas to ensure we are strategically aligned to business priorities. For example, the shift away from learning being ‘courses’ towards developing solutions that are more fitting to the needs of our people supports the technological transformation of our business. This technological transformation means that our people have access to great new workplace communication and collaboration tools, such as Slack, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. River Island’s learning and development team is strategically supporting the implementation of these tools to ensure that technology is not a focus, but merely an enabler of a better-connected workforce who share what they know, leading to better ideas and innovative ways of working. We’re looking to forward to piloting initiatives such as Working Out Loud Circles, which are peer support groups, to enhance these connections. Our goal is to add value to the bottom line of our business, which means we work with business leaders to define what success looks like. The credibility of the learning and development team has been underpinned by us becoming more commercially aware, focusing on what matters most and understanding how learning impacts performance. A good example of this is a programme that was designed specifically with our retail management team in mind. Partnering with Sheffield Business School, we agreed key business metrics – including sales conversion, store order and product write-off targets – at the start of the programme. Then we monitored these metrics over a 12-month period. At the


end, we could demonstrate a £6.8 million positive impact to the bottom-line performance of our retail network. As a team, we are constantly making decisions based on the available data, which means we can track the impact of our activity and see how it translates into performance outcomes. ABOUT RIVER ISLAND 2 River Island was founded as a brand in 1988, although its history as a fashion retailer dates back to 1948. 2 The privately owned chain has 350 stores across the UK, Ireland, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. 2 It employs 12,000 people in the UK. 2 Besides its stores, River Island has offices in London and a distribution centre in Milton Keynes.

Boosting performance To measure our effectiveness as a learning function, we embarked on a benchmarking exercise with research company Towards Maturity in 2015. We then reviewed our progress in 2016 and 2017. Pleasingly, we have seen a phenomenal increase in our score, from 12.86 in 2015 to 63.26 in 2016 and 71.13 in 2017. In addition, we monitor the answers to specific questions in our employee engagement survey, including questions related to our people being aware of which development opportunities are available to them. We recognise that trying to measure learning in hours, or learning by numbers, or scores from a multiple-choice quiz, are not a true measure of learning. We have explicitly linked ‘people experience’ and employee life-cycle to our learning strategy and we can see that increased access to learning opportunities leads to higher employee engagement and better performance. Our vision is to be “award-winning industry leaders, educating everyone uniquely”, so we strive to use learning innovations to enable our people to be the very best they can be. It would be easy for us to use every buzzword in the industry, but our focus is simply to support our colleagues. We are, however, ambitious, and believe that a solid foundation needs to be set down to create a robust culture of learning. For this reason, we have been working with Towards Maturity to benchmark our approach, and we see real value in measuring learning outside that, assessed by learning management systems. We have exciting plans to embed agile methodologies at the heart of how we operate and to prototype ideas quickly, gathering feedback as we go from our customers. As we are fresh and fearless in our approach, we see learning opportunities arising from augmented reality and artificial intelligence. These include simple playlist algorithms that can help people to personalise their learning, and chatbots that can support the employee journey from onboarding onwards. We want to strike the right balance between getting the basics right while continuing to push the boundaries. For us, this balance is central to our plans around learning. Nebel Crowhurst is head of talent and Mike Collins is a senior digital learning specialist at River Island



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SETTING THE LEADERSHIP AGENDA 42 Lessons from the locker room Examining the physiology of high performance


ision is a very popular concept in the business world today, but it has long played a central role in religion. In the Bible (Proverbs 29:18), we hear these words: “Where there is no vision, the people will perish.” Since the word ‘vision’ is so widely used, it can be hard to discern exactly what it means. In my work as an Anglican bishop, I am careful to distinguish between vision and mission. In a Christian setting, we understand our church, or our community, as participating in the mission of God – which is God’s reactivity in Christ – to recreate things that are not as they should be into something good. The vision is how we see ourselves taking part in that mission. Throughout our church, there are visionaries with a clear passion for making things truly good. The church is often described as a group of people who exist not for themselves. Arguably, the same could be said of businesses and other organisations, yet that is not how they are perceived. When you have a religious mission, you might make decisions to do things that seem unnatural or even harmful to your own interests – for example, the discipleship call to leave everything and follow Jesus. One of the great joys of my role is supporting people who make decisions that seem surprising on the outside, such as giving up a great job because they have discovered the richness of living a deeper

46 Leadership gurus Do you still believe in the hero myth?

48 Why you need a network The link between social capital and success

It starts with the community Shaping a vision should be a collective endeavour By

Eleanor Sanderson

life in community with God, and making a difference to the world. Jesus did not cultivate the rich and powerful. Instead, he spent a lot of time on the margins of society. So how does that play into how Christian leaders shape visions today? We have to be careful we don’t assume the dominant culture or language is the same as God’s culture or language. You need to constantly check in with the way other people see the world. This principle applies equally in the lay world. The more a business understands the way it is experienced by different genders and cultures, the greater its ability to move towards its vision. One of the great challenges with vision, for both secular and religious leaders, is that it is intangible. In this respect, it is similar to faith. Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Meanwhile, the vision referred to in the Book of Proverbs is a God-given revelation. The process of calling people into something that cannot be physically seen is what actually brings vision to life. We have to become the living example. Interestingly, the word ‘bishop’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘overseer’. That’s why leadership for me is very much about honouring the hope and possibilities that other people see, outside as well as inside the church, praying for grace to see the world through God’s eyes and finding ways to bring all these visions together. The Right Reverend Dr Eleanor Sanderson is assistant bishop of Wellington, New Zealand



Lessons from the locker room Physiology is a crucial component of high performance – in both a sporting and a corporate context Writing


Elesa Zehndorfer

Physiology and Performance



f you could harness the extraordinary mindset of an elite athlete, imagine how you could transform the professional performance of your team, your company and yourself. It turns out that you can transform all three. You just need two things: an intimate knowledge of physiology, and an understanding that it is the training – and not the performance – of elite athletes that you need to be focusing on. This article explains why. But first we need to ask one fundamental question. What is it exactly about sport that causes it to remain so endlessly appealing to the corporate world?

Heroes and legends It was the Summer Olympics of 1996. In the balmy heat of Atlanta, Georgia, a superbly talented 18-year-old gymnast named Kerri Strug walked out on to the mats to perform her first vault as a US Olympic athlete. Sadly, her dream of Olympic glory was almost destroyed as soon as it had begun. She seriously twisted her ankle during the first landing. Demonstrating a level of epic fortitude and focus rarely seen in any field, Strug did not give in. Despite a clearly visible limp, and her face contorted with pain, Strug did what any real champion would do. She tried again with that injured ankle. On her second try, in front of a global audience, and with the pressure of her compatriots and competitors bearing down upon her, she completed a brilliant twisting Yurchenko vault. Strug’s high score was crucial in securing the first ever gold medal for the US women’s gymnastics team. The image of her coach, Béla Károlyi, carrying her to the medal podium – because she was in too much pain to walk – remains one of the most defining and beautiful moments in sport. Similarly, the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics gave us an equally memorable moment of fortitude and grace. Elite British athlete Derek Redmond had lined up against the world’s best 400m sprinters for what promised to be a historic Olympic event. Like every other competitor in that line-up, Redmond had dedicated his life to winning Olympic gold. He was on top of



his game and in a great position to bring home a medal. But moments into the race, Redmond’s hamstring tore. In a split-second the world grasped what Redmond knew, too; his dream of Olympic gold had been shattered. But what went down in history during that race was not the winner. It was Redmond. Crying, physically limping and emotionally distraught, he persevered, limping around the track, determined to cross the finish line. As he faltered, his father ran on to the track and put his arms around his boy. Waving away officials and walking with him arm-in-arm, his father was there with Redmond every step of the way until he crossed the finish line. The spirit, the patriarchal bond, the fortitude, the emotion and the raw strength of that moment shone through. It was a beautiful sight and one that was impossible for any spectator to forget.

Left to right US gymnast Kerri Strug lands her vault on an injured ankle at the 1996 Olympics; Derek Redmond pulls up with a torn hamstring during the 400m at the 1992 Olympics

poor decision-making if their sleep is sub-par, and they miss out on maximised creative ability if they never take part in regular exercise. They will take fewer risks if their testosterone is too low, but too many if it is too high. The examples are too multitudinous to list here. Corporate employees are also at heightened risk of becoming addicted to stress, technological gadgets and work itself. If their neurotransmitter dopamine gets stimulated too regularly (for example, by the activity of placing frequent trades), the dopamine pathways can become blunted. They may then look for a risky high elsewhere since the ability to achieve a natural high has become more difficult. Hence addictive and destructive behaviours, such as conducting love affairs and gambling, become a very real threat. A great coach knows how to physiologically manage out those risks. A great manager should too.

From the locker room to the boardroom In reality, every company looks for a Strug and a Redmond. But the reality is, Strug and Redmond could never achieve the same stellar level of performance in a company. Why? Because companies don’t have a Károlyi or Redmond Snr. Nor do they understand the crucial role of physiology. An elite coach will know about the DHEA and GABA levels of their athlete, for example, how the acetyl-L-carnitine and omega blend that they take maximises their cognitive acuity. Also, how zinc and magnesium supplements will sharpen reaction time and IQ, and how cortisol lowers IQ and decision-making under pressure. And, above all, how generally respecting the evolutionary design of our Paleolithic gene (for example, that the human body and brain were designed with the assumption that they would enjoy high-quality, frequent rest and exercise) maximises all possible performance outcomes. Having spent the last 12 months writing The Physiology of Irrational and Emotional Investing: Causes and Solutions (Routledge, 2018), I can attest to the fact that it is just as important for high-performing, stressed-out executives to honour these Paleolithic requirements if they don’t want to risk blowing up the markets and losing their shirt, or suffer burnout, depression, insomnia and even diminished IQ. In reality, the data holds up for every executive. If you want a Strug or a Redmond, give your leaders the latitude to take gym time like Strug and Redmond. Invest in sports nutritionists. Understand that they risk losing IQ points if their cortisol levels are too high, and that they risk mental fatigue if their diet is poor. They also risk

Take a knee


When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem in 2016 to protest at racial inequality in the US, he incited a powerful movement, but still faces personal attacks for doing so. (In fact, President Trump publicly criticises other athletes who do the same). The reality of sport can be ugly. Racism in coaching and management, for example, remains endemic, as it does in business. And just as some traders are pressured to dump stock in a downturn, some athletes feel they have no choice but to take banned supplements or train through an injury if their coach pushes them to. In reality, conformance is often required to succeed in both business and sporting scenarios, and conformance is often required for ugly reasons. Sport, when it comes down to it, is not the panacea. We know that professional sport is often inspiring, lifting our testosterone through heroic victories, but it can also be corrupt, dirty and profit-obsessed. So where does this leave us? A decade ago, I wrote my PhD on the concept of the sport-business metaphor, and how it could be used to develop top-flight executives. After many years of research, I can tell you that it is not

Physiology and Performance



sport, but the physiological effects of training, day-in, day-out, that truly hold the key. One great speech delivers a dopamine and testosterone hit, inspiring everyone, but it won’t empower your employees in the long term – just as one great coaching session doesn’t create Olympic champions. But long-term, well-structured physiological innervation will. The Paleolithic gene is universal – executives have it; athletes share it. Respect it and nurture it, and you will always have a champion on your hands.


VIEW FROM THE BLEACHERS A lot of corporations also look to sport to fall in love. How can they persuade customers to love their brand as much as they love their football team? The answer is charisma. The charisma of sport has become engendered to spectators over a lifetime of emotional connection. A company cannot emulate that completely and, in fact, attempts to do just that often fall flat. One example: a brilliant athlete gives a motivational talk at a corporate retreat. Everyone feels so inspired. Then the lights go up, they step outside the room, and boom – reality hits them in the face. That focus and creative excitement has nowhere to go, and the team is left frustrated and directionless. What happened? Excitation-transfer just happened. Excitation-transfer is the transfer of emotion, physically, through a crowd. It is perfect for a team of high-testosterone athletes, who are about to run out on to the field and engage in a highly choreographed plan to compete. It is a waste of effort without that direction. Another favourite – this time from the sport psychology coffers – is visualisation. Teach your executives to visualise succeeding at a great presentation or client pitch, and they perform better, just as an athlete might when they visualise a record-breaking run. But why? One major reason is because of evolution. We are hard-wired to continually seek out pleasure to survive, meaning that anticipation alone can create a greater flow of dopamine to the brain than achieving the outcome itself. It also minimises panic, since it involves planning and thus engages the rational side of the brain (the prefrontal cortex). Athletes are likely to respond to sports psychology far better than an executive, however, because their physiological foundation – maximised GABA and DHEA levels, for example – allows their neurological responses to become far more nuanced and powerful. Knowing what you are doing, and why, is priceless, and physiology always remains at the root of it.

Ultimately, it is time that the myth of what sport can teach business takes a knee. Because it is not within sport itself that the true secrets of executive performance lie, but within the physiological effects of training that facilitate it. Understand that and you can start to build your championship-winning team. Dr Elesa Zehndorfer is author of ‘The Physiology of Emotional and Irrational Investing: Causes and Solutions’. She has a PhD in sport management from Loughborough University. Contact her at: elesa@zehndorferconsulting.com




Goodbye gurus The answers to today’s leadership questions can be found within Writing Sebastian Salicru

or the first time in its history, a large organisation experienced what the chief executive and her top team described as an “intractable challenge”. Having failed to resolve this unprecedented crisis, they invited a world-renowned leadership guru to help them. Everyone in the organisation gathered in the town hall meeting to hear what the guru had to say. But, to their surprise, he asked just one simple question: “Can you guess what I am going to say?” “No,” they replied, puzzled. “Then I can’t teach you something that you don’t already know,” the guru replied enigmatically. He left without further comment. Everyone was disappointed, to say the least, and their problem remained unsolved. Many weeks passed, but the problem remained unsolved. The executives deliberated and sent a second invitation to the guru. In preparation for his arrival, the executives coached all managers and employees to this time say “yes” in response to the guru’s question. Once again, the guru arrived and once again everyone from the organisation gathered to hear his counsel. As before, he asked: “Can you guess what I’m going to say?” The executive looked at the crowd and all at once they shouted “YES!” Unflinchingly, the guru responded: “Then what use is there for me to tell you anything?” Again, he left without giving any further advice. This time the executives, managers and employees were perplexed and angry. They had prepared for the guru’s advice and had been willing to listen to his words of wisdom. After many more months of trying and failing to solve the problem, and with some desperation, the executives issued a third invitation to the guru. This time they hoped to be ready for him. As the organisation gathered around for a third time, the guru asked: “Can you guess what I’m going to say?” In response, half of the organisation shouted “YES!” while the other half shouted “NO!” But the guru was unruffled. He stared at the crowd and replied: “Then those that know should sit down and talk with those that don’t know, and then together you will all have the answers.” And with that the guru left, never to return. The next morning, and after much deliberation and reflection, the chief executive elatedly gathered the entire organisation together once more. She had finally understood the guru’s message. “The answer to all our problems can be found within our organisation, in our experience and in our accumulated wisdom – not from

Leadership Gurus

outside gurus like him,” she explained. “It is not our knowledge and wisdom that fails us, but our self-belief and self-assurance.”

Why can’t organisations see the forest for the trees? This story reminds us that in times of unprecedented change, uncertainty, complexity and high velocity, traditional models of leadership no longer hold water. We need to grasp the new context for leadership by using the capabilities and accumulated experience we already have, but have largely ignored, to build self-confidence and self-belief. Leadership never occurs in a vacuum – it is a highly contextualised phenomenon. As the context changes, so too does leadership. Today’s context is shaped by complexity, turbulence and high velocity. Turbulence refers to the conflict and upheaval that is created by constantly shifting economic conditions. High-velocity environments are characterised by rapid and continuous change in response to competition, new technologies and regulations. These are environments in which information quickly becomes inaccurate, unavailable or obsolete. Ultimately, business today is VUCA (volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous), which presents new types of challenges.






Create your inner ‘guru’ by imagining that he or she is already inside of you. Your guru’s only purpose is to protect, guide and support you by sharing his or her unlimited collective knowledge and wisdom with you. Put quiet time aside each day and imagine yourself talking to your guru. Listen carefully to what your guru has to say. The more you practise this, the more attuned you will become to your inner guru and you will trust each other.


Make connections with people you admire and trust, and ask one of them to become your mentor (remember that you can have more than one mentor). Keep a daily journal of what’s happening in your life, with particular emphasis on what you are grateful for and how you have supported others.


Reach out to others by building networks with people who have similar values and interests. Meet with them regularly and develop strong relationships. Listen to their experiences and advice. Also contribute by sharing your own experiences and expressing your opinions.

Adaptive challenges In this new context of escalating turbulence and disruption, organisations and communities are increasingly facing adaptive challenges, as opposed to technical problems. Technical problems are easy to identify, are well-defined, and can be solved by applying well-known solutions or the knowledge of experts, since we have experienced them before. In contrast, adaptive challenges are those that we have not experienced before. They are difficult to define, have no known or clear-cut solutions, and call for new ideas to bring about change in numerous places. Examples of adaptive challenges include climate change and other environmental challenges, corruption, terrorism, and violence against women. In organisations, examples of adaptive challenges include designing a new system or procedure, successfully implementing it, securing agreement for a policy change, or dealing with multiple complex people management issues or stakeholder relationships. Adaptive challenges are way too big and complex to be addressed by an individual alone. Within this context, the image of a ‘guru’ or ‘heroic’ leader is a relic of the past. To effectively tackle today’s challenges, all stakeholders need to



collaborate to a high level. From this perspective, the power of trusting relationships and networks trumps authority, experience, position and individual technical expertise. Leadership today is shared or distributed. Like the people in the story, we need to shift our attention and hopes away from outside experts or individual gurus. We need to get grounded in reality, and develop the poise and self-assurance necessary to move forward with confidence. Sadly, for many, this reality will be disappointing. To make progress in the new world, and to effectively tackle adaptive challenges, we need to let go of unrealistic leadership expectations that individuals in formal positions of power or authority are responsible for causing or solving organisational or community problems. Like the guru in the story, the C-suite and other senior managers are no longer the experts with prescriptive formulas or solutions. Adaptive challenges must be addressed by the people who are directly connected to the problems. They are the ones with access to their own collective intelligence and a reservoir of resources that is more likely to bring the needed solution. Sebastian Salicru is a leadership development expert and author of ‘Leadership Results: How to Create Adaptive Leaders and High-performing Organisations for an Uncertain World’. For a review, see Book Club, page 80



Mastering the matrix A modern leader is a networked leader who nurtures internal relationships Writing Erik Korsvik Østergaard



or the past three years I have been supporting a department in a large bank with its transformation from an old-school, siloed, hierarchical structure to a modern, networkbased, teams-of-teams structure. It has been amazing to follow the staff’s determination and experiments, and witness their understanding of how the role of the leader evolves during this flattening of the hierarchy. One of the discoveries the department staff quickly made was that the modern leader is a networked leader. This is a leader who applies distributed leadership, exploits the benefits of the matrix organisation and uses the power of organisational influencers – those who have the informal leadership. Another discovery was that when you work in a networked, agile, matrix organisation, every employee will have at least two managers that they are in contact with: the lead of the production team, and the lead of the HR team. This introduces yet another complication for the networked leader. To develop their knowledge in this area, the staff wanted to map the organisational network and get a shared understanding of the roles and flows of information within the organisation and of networked leadership in real life. This exercise has been so fruitful to them that

they have mapped the organisational network every nine to 12 months in order to continuously monitor social capital. Collins Dictionary defines social capital as: “The network of social connections that exist between people, and their shared values and norms of behaviour, which enable and encourage mutually advantageous social cooperation.” Social capital can, and should be, monitored frequently – for instance, via bi-weekly ad hoc chats, structured interviews, company surveys, a weekly smile-o-meter or an organisational network analysis.

Network analysis


An organisational network analysis (ONA) can provide insight into the real networks and relationships that exist within an organisation. From that, you can get an understanding of the silos, the key influencers, the kinds of relationships that exist between employees (whether they are professional or personal), and where it is vulnerable. Using a survey, you ask all employees for their top five to ten relationships within daily work, the people they spar with on a professional basis, the people they expend energy on and the people they have private or personal chats with. You use this information to create a network that shows the employees and their relationships with each other.

Networked Leadership

Then you can create people analytics by combining this information with master data on location and department, and metadata on age, title, tenure and other HR data. Altogether, you will get a new perspective on the ‘bonders’, ‘bridgers’ and ‘hubs’ of your organisation. Also, you will better understand the bottlenecks and weaknesses when it comes to communication and collaboration. Finally, you will get a view on how ideas might flow – that is, where innovation and creativity can grow or not grow. The analysis forms your basis for debating two important issues: 2 What kind of social capital do we want in the future – and why? 2 What do we expect from our leaders with regards to networking?

Be a gardener of your ecosystem The role of the leader in the future is changing. Through my studies over the past five years, it has become clear to me that the modern, responsive leader masters four roles: 2 Coach and mentor 2 Entrepreneur 2 Master of ‘white space’, i.e. the things that fall between the cracks of existing structures and projects 2 Gardener of your ecosystem ORGANISATION NETWORK The diagram below shows the network of an organisation, with the lines representing relationships between employees, who are shaped and colour-coded according to their department and location.



This ecosystem encompasses your network and relationships. You must be a gardener of the ecosystem so the dynamics of a strengths-based leadership team are nurtured, and dialogue, engagement and access to expertise are facilitated. When you begin working in a networked system, you will quickly learn that the understanding of ‘organising’ as a verb is crucial. ‘Organisation’ is a noun, and a static thing. Organising – or ‘teaming’ – is a dynamic structure, which provides you with the agility and flexibility to embrace new technologies and input from customers, and to regroup yourself to new teams. This is a huge advantage for attracting both customers and employees, but it also puts new pressure on leaders. You have an important role when it comes to managing communication and collaboration between all the leaders and key influencers, especially horizontally in the organisation. This is a key aspect of the so-called social business, namely facilitation of the health of the leadership ecosystem between the leaders. Networked leadership in real life is about knowing your network role. Are you a bridger between teams? Are you an attractor for many people? Are you a bonder who creates safe homes for the employees? Are you a satellite?

In real life One leadership team I worked with established social capital key performance indicators for managers. These described the expectations for how many relationships, and what kind of network role they should have, as individuals. Social capital and social business are nurtured through facilitating: 2 leadership, culture, dialogue, feedback and acknowledgment; 2 access to experts and expertise; 2 delivery mechanisms for products, projects and processes; and 2 dialogue with your external customers, crowd, and community. By using network mapping, you can make plans for strengthening relationships within the organisation and for increasing social capital and social business. Undoubtedly this is powerful leverage for successful organizations – those that create a culture where people feel they belong, and where innovation happens. The modern leader is a networked leader – a leader who understands internal relationships and nurtures them carefully. To a networked leader, social capital is a measurement for success, on the same level as financial results. Erik Korsvik Østergaard is founder of leadership and change management consultancy Bloch&Østergaard and author of ‘The Responsive Leader’









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MANAGEMENT IN PRACTICE 52 Girls not allowed? Why there’s a shortage of women in tech


ne of my favourite economists, Iris Bohnet of the Harvard Kennedy School, often tells the story about how, when an orchestra director is auditioning musicians, he or she is theoretically judging them purely on the sound of their instrument. Objectivity is paramount to creating the best possible ensemble. By 1970, however, only 5% of musicians in the world’s top five orchestras were women. Was it that just 5% of those who auditioned were women? Were women generally worse? Or was it something more complex? Back in 1952, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) decided to try something new to address this question: blind auditions. By doing so, the BSO, and the other orchestras that followed suit in the 1970s and 1980s, increased the likelihood of female musicians advancing to the next round by 50%. It took a while for everyone to get on board, but now 35% of musicians in the most acclaimed orchestras are female. What this story tells us is that even when we try to be as objective as possible, factors such as gender can influence decision-making. In other words, we are unconsciously biased. And this intervention – having auditions behind a curtain – is an example of what behavioural scientists call a ‘nudge’. We’re all unconsciously biased in some way – maybe about gender, race, sexuality, disability, personality types, accents… all kinds of things. Overcoming that bias requires repeated, consistent, conscious action over long periods of time. But we can try to construct our surroundings to reduce the number of opportunities for bias. The easiest starting point is to remove names and other gender or racial identifiers

54 Collaboration returns Top-down hierarchies are not the natural order

Nudging towards inclusion We must be deliberate about overcoming unconscious bias By

Raafi Alidina

56 Restoration game Turning around a badly performing manager

from applications. Multiple studies have shown that CVs with names that indicate non-white and non-male people are significantly less likely to get call-backs or interviews than identical CVs submitted by white men. Removing those names makes it easier to mitigate that bias. When it comes to interviewing and hiring, Harvard researchers have shown that strictly structured interviews, where the same questions are asked to all applicants and scored immediately, are likely to reduce implicit bias.

OVERCOMING BIAS REQUIRES REPEATED, CONSISTENT, CONSCIOUS ACTION Organisations must also create more inclusive work cultures. One way is by having salary transparency to guarantee no gender or racial wage gaps. Another change would be to allow for greater flexibility in working patterns. This encourages a more diverse range of people, particularly parents and people with disabilities, to work at an organisation. What’s more, these people report higher job satisfaction and overall productivity. Research has shown that diverse teams perform better. In his book The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki showed that the collective ideas and decisions reached by diverse groups are often better than those made by non-diverse groups. If we seek to perform well in the market, it is imperative that we implement different types of nudges to increase diversity and inclusion. Otherwise, we will continue to miss our blind spots, perpetuate inequality and fail to reach our full potential as organisations and as societies.

Raafi Alidina is a diversity and inclusion expert, and an associate with consultancy Frost Included

A shortage of women in tech is a problem for both businesses and society. Here’s what managers need to know Writing


Kirsten Levermore

he tech industry suffers from a gender gap the size of an ocean trench. Take the UK, for example, where men hold 85% of all positions in technology, and 95% of leadership roles, according to PwC’s Women in Tech report. That leaves 15% of the entire industry, and a tiny 5% of leadership posts, for women.

Who’s afraid of the big, bad bias? Writing on the BBC News website in 2012, Belinda Parmar OBE, founder of consultancy Lady Geek, said: “Diversity is important in any industry, but it’s especially relevant when it comes to technology. Tech is the way the world talks to each other.” Parmar, like many other technologists – both male and female – is keen to highlight the issues that arise when technology, which is essentially how the world talks to each other, is designed by and for 50.4% of the population. Take artificial intelligence (AI) – the set of technologies designed to imitate human intelligence and even learn from experience. AI is often compared to a child because it learns from what it hears and sees; and that includes the bad stuff, too. A shining example of this is Microsoft’s chatbot, Tay, which was trained on Twitter and quickly dismantled after it produced streams of offensive racist and misogynistic remarks in less than 24 hours. Tay learned language, biases and cruelty from the humans who trained it. So where are the girls who can help to address the innate bias in tech? Why aren’t they entering the industry? There is a plethora of interest from women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) – and skill too, as it happens. On average, female students test as well as, if not better than, males


The IT girls

And, in a world made up of 49.6% women, we are in danger of designing a future for only half of the population.

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in STEM subjects at a young age. But casual ‘interest’ is where it seems to stop for most. Rarely is a career in technology seen as attainable or suitable. PwC’s research found that almost two-thirds (64%) of female pre-university students study STEM subjects. Yet just 3% are actually considering a career in tech. Research from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests this discrepancy occurs because women lack confidence in their individual ability to perform and succeed in the technology industry. Meanwhile, PwC’s study also highlighted that just 16% of school-aged girls – versus 33% of boys – are advised to embark upon careers in technology. Combatting this could be the first step to bridging the gender gap, but it is going to involve teachers, parents and career counsellors working together. Fortunately, many organisations are also keen to inspire and empower young girls to pursue careers in tech and science. A score of ‘coding for girls’ classes have cropped up in the UK in recent years, including Code First: Girls. The UK government and more than 150 companies have signed the Tech Talent Charter, which commits them to adopting inclusive recruitment processes and ensuring that, wherever possible, women are included on the shortlist for interviews. Support communities Girls in Tech and Girl Geeks bring women in tech into schools as role models, while companies such as KPMG, PwC and Cruxy & Company have initiatives such as annual surveys, work placements, internships and gendertailored job advertisements that aim to encourage more young women into tech.

Hostile cultures “When I was a man,” recalled Silicon Valley superstar and trans-community heroine Vivienne Ming at the Human Difference 2017 conference in South Africa, “I was the go-to person for equations and coding problems in my lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After I transitioned into a woman, though, that changed in the space of a day. It was like people thought because I was wearing a skirt, I couldn’t do math.” Ming’s is a stark example of how women are often treated in the tech sector, which is known for its long-hours working environment and hostile male cultures that tend to marginalise women. And then, of course, there is that ten-page memo from Google’s James Damore, which outlined his belief that women are not biologically suitable for tech jobs. THE FEMALE GIANTS OF TECH 2 Ada Lovelace – a 19th-century visionary who is sometimes regarded as the first computer programmer. 2 Radia Perlman – called the ‘Mother of the Internet’ because she invented Spanning Tree Protocol (STP). 2 Glenda Schroeder – a US software engineer, she made the first command-line user interface, which remains the main way we communicate with our computers. 2 Sandy Lerner – a businesswoman and philanthropist, she co-founded US tech giant Cisco Systems. 2 Sheryl Sandberg – chief operating officer of social media platform Facebook.

Women in Tech



Lily Covington, associate strategist at consultancy Cruxy & Company, confirms that the culture in the tech industry today is off-putting to women. “To be a woman in tech takes relentless energy,” she says. “You must constantly prove yourself. I don’t think a man ever gets asked his age, or whether he is in PR or HR. Men are never placed in a box beforehand, or asked to qualify their reasoning for being in the industry. Women have to make an impact as soon as they enter the room to usurp expectations.” The seminal 2015 study, The Elephant in the Valley, surveyed 200 senior-level women in Silicon Valley. A large majority (84%) of participants had been told they were “too aggressive” in the office, while 66% had been excluded from important events because of their gender, and 60% reported unwanted sexual advances in the workplace. Almost 40% said they didn’t report the incidents because they feared retaliation. Some firms are working towards a more level playing field, however. Initiatives such as dedicated women in technology networks, reverse mentorships and sponsorship programmes for high achievers are becoming more common, as tech and digital consulting firms, in particular, try to close the gender gap. Tech giants Facebook and Google have also committed to compulsory courses on bias for all new employees.

Leadership gap While female tech leaders are in painfully short supply, some companies are making more progress than others. Videoconferencing hub Polycom boasts no fewer than four women in its C-suite, including chief executive Mary McDowell. “Even in 2018, there aren’t many global technology companies with such strong female representation at senior management level,” says Polycom’s senior solution product marketing manager Pat Finlayson. “We are proud to give equal opportunities to all, meaning every C-level position is held by the best person for the job – regardless of their gender. Tech companies need not worry… things won’t fall apart in a company if women are in charge.” PwC’s report also highlights a number of initiatives for supporting female tech leaders, including gender quotas and peer learning. Naturally, the support of the few women who have already achieved leadership is also invaluable. “I love that I am now able to make a real difference for women coming into, or returning to, the industry,” says Rachel Skinner, head of development at consultancy WSP. “It is fantastic to see continued effort around the creation of a more gender-balanced and diverse industry for the right reasons, linked to future business strength, resilience and creativity.” Kirsten Levermore is assistant editor of ‘Edge’

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The return of collaboration Top-down hierarchies are a transient episode in social history and not the natural order many presume they are Writing


dmiral Lord Horatio Nelson is often depicted as the ultimate ‘great man’ leader. He personifies the Industrial Age view of heroic leadership, where a single, charismatic, male figure is respected for his undoubted ability to take the fight to the enemy. Such was the devotion to this kind of leader that his commands were assiduously followed, even if following them meant death. Nelson is just one of a pantheon of inspirational leaders who are often cited as exemplars of the traditional view of leadership. They are seen as the possessors of unique characteristics that

differentiate them from mere followers. This paradigm collapsed in the 1940s, however, when respected leadership scholar Ralph Stogdill conducted a review of all the accepted leadership traits and tried to correlate them with performance. He could not find compelling proof that effective leaders possessed unique traits that elevated them above the crowd. Academic study of leadership has since been engaged in a search for a more sophisticated model of leadership. Many organisations still believe in these heroic notions, however, despite a notable move away from command-and-control models among businesses. Today, the business world is split between those that embrace a new, flatter business


Matt Offord

Collaborative Working

model and those that cling to the traditional view of leadership, come what may. It may interest you, then, to know that Nelson’s greatest victory, at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, was achieved through a masterclass in collective leadership – the ultimate rejection of command-and-control. On the day of the battle, Nelson, to cut a long story short, simply let his captains get on with it, to devastating effect. The British Royal Navy soundly defeated the combined fleets of the French and Spanish navies. Paradoxically, modern researchers often cite this event as a good example of selfsynchronisation – where team members are perfectly in sync and able to make decisions autonomously, yet in line with organisational goals. One might be forgiven for thinking that this was new leadership, a paradigm shift that overturned old, traditional views. But what if those ‘old, traditional’ views were actually quite new?

Upside-down hierarchies During my years as a leadership researcher, I have often heard that having powerful leaders in charge of a hierarchy is the natural order. A structure comprised of bosses, middle managers and workers is often considered to be the most efficient way of ‘getting things done’. It is old school. Or is it? It is not old school, according to Mark Aldenderfer, a US anthropologist who published an article about leadership structures in South American civilisations over 3,000 years ago. Writing in 2005 for the American Anthropological Society, he concluded that it was impossible to establish a linear progression from early hunter-gatherers to an organised society that features a top-down hierarchy. In fact, the archaeological record seemed to show that as soon as top-down hierarchies established themselves, they were cast down by the regular folk. “In other words, equality is strongly defended by those who do not have high prestige or great influence, and persistent leadership is tolerated, rather than prized,” Aldenderfer explained. Another anthropologist, Christopher Boehm, a student of British primatologist Jane Goodall, compared human societies to those of our nearest living ancestor, the chimpanzee. He discovered that chimps are far more likely to have a top-down hierarchy than humans. Having lived as hunter-gatherers for the vast majority of our history, it seems likely that our behaviour has evolved around egalitarian frameworks for collaboration, rather than hierarchical structures for coercion. In his book Hierarchy in the Forest, Boehm concludes that humans adapted to use the dominance strategies of the hierarchy against would-be dominant leaders. He calls this the reverse dominance hierarchy. Essentially, leaders are dominated by coalitions of followers, who stop

HOW TO BE AN OLD-SCHOOL LEADER Since natural leaders do not have the structure of a big company to help them lead, here are the rules for becoming a prestigious leader: 2 Win the information game Group members become prestigious when they act as learning models; that is they possess knowledge or skills useful to the group. Prestigious leaders develop a body of followers who imitate them to gain access to those skills. In business, professional credibility is everything. Work hard and become an expert. 2 Be humble While possessing expert knowledge and credibility, it is important not to show off about it. Potential followers need to know that you will not be taking advantage of your leadership position, if they grant it. While you may have specific skills, you are only one cog in the machine. 2 Do not rely on authority Although authority is there for a reason, and I am not advocating anarchy, over-reliance on it can lead to all kinds of friction and affect team performance. Anthropologists have noted several ways followers can thwart overbearing leaders, including disengagement, disobedience and desertion. These all affect performance and undermine leaders.


them from getting too big for their boots. The reassertion of top-down hierarchies appears to be an adaptation of the increasing need to coordinate a specialised workforce for the Industrial Age. With the advent of the Information Age, the environment is changing again. Could we be seeing a return to the upside-down hierarchies that have dominated human history? Aldenderfer’s work seems to suggest that there is a battle between leaders and followers, with either being on top, according to the situation.

Prestige or dominance? It is important for those with an interest in leadership to follow anthropologists, as well as historians. Anthropologist Joe Henrich writes a great deal about prestige. Starting with the premise that followers are ambivalent about leaders (especially those acting out of self-interest), he suggests that prestige has evolved as an alternative to coercion and dominance. Writing for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 2015, Henrich and colleagues revealed that a competition for prestige can lead to more collaborative societies. In turn, collaboration favours the genes of individuals who demonstrate more pro-social behaviour in small groups. Even larger groups rely on a cultural transmission of status, rather than old-fashioned dominance. Belief is growing in the power of prestige as an alternative to dominance in human evolution. So it is not hard to see why we would be less inclined to accept top-down hierarchies unless they were necessary. Prestigious leaders are followed and imitated because they are seen as sources of reliable information. In modern hunter-gatherers, this behaviour is witnessed in groups all around the world. Because dominance is actively resisted, would-be leaders must demonstrate both humility and superior knowledge – which is not easy. In my own research, I have even witnessed prestige supporting the acceptance of informal leaders in the strict hierarchical environment of modern military teams. When people talk of “earning leadership”, they are talking about prestige. It makes sense for both leaders and followers. Dominant leaders do not usually last long; they must expend a huge amount of effort to stay on top and they are usually deposed at some point. Dominance lends itself to neither collaboration nor creativity because dominant leaders have to think for everybody and suppress independent thought. Dr Matt Offord is the director of a leadership and professional development company, a lead researcher for the Institute of Leadership & Management and honorary associate of Durham University’s department of anthropology. Contact him on matt@consultcoscoroba.com

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Restoration game Six useful strategies for turning around a badly performing manager Writing


Margo Manning

Poor Performance





hen a member of a team performs badly, it can be detrimental to the overall success of both the team and the business. The magnitude of this outcome is multiplied when it is someone in a management position who is not up to par. Poor performance is not a state of affairs that most people strive towards, however. Just as most employees want to feel that they are contributing to the organisation in a positive way, the same is true of managers. Good managers will, more often than not, be able to turn around team members who are underperforming, but the issue becomes bigger when it is a manager who is badly performing. So what can you do to support a badly performing manager to get back on track? Give them feedback There is an unwritten rule for managers that the higher they climb up the career ladder and more senior they become, the less feedback they will receive. So a good starting point is to share honest feedback with the underperforming manager in question. Managers are not mind readers. Like all employees, they need direction and support in order to move forward successfully. When they don’t receive feedback, mature managers often revert to using their own internal compass. This, of course, relies on their internal compass being calibrated to receive others’ interpretation of their performance. While this method may work for some managers, others will be more inclined to take the ‘no news is good news’ approach. The outcome then is that badly performing managers believe they are delivering satisfactorily and continue to underperform, happy in ‘ignorance is bliss’ mode. Before you explore how you can support a badly performing manager, you should consider why they are performing as they are in the first place. A manager (or, indeed any member of staff) will often perform to the best of their ability, based on the environmental influences surrounding them.


Make sure they understand their goals It is essential to assess whether there is clarity around the goal. Does the manager understand the organisational goals they are personally supporting and working towards? Most managers, when asking someone else if they understand, will literally ask the question: “Do you understand?” Of course, the recipient of that question will have deleted, distorted and generalised the communication to make sense of it. This will result in a “yes” response. But in a scenario where there is scope for confusion or misunderstanding, it is better to ask: “What is your take-away from this and how are you going to implement it?” Ask the manager to tell you, in their own words, what they are going to do, so they verbally demonstrate their understanding. This gives you the opportunity to make adjustments if their understanding is not correct.


Authorise them In other cases, when someone is promoted to a managerial position, the authority is not given for them to carry out the role thoroughly. This is an easy fix. Give the manager the authority to carry out the role well – and let them get on with it.


Get them to see beyond the task When a manager’s focus is purely on the task at hand, to the exclusion of all else (employee welfare, for example), there is a real disconnect between productivity and delivery. This management approach can often be attributed to company culture – the manager is simply mirroring what they see and experience from more senior managers. As a result, the problem is a much bigger issue than an underperforming manager. When a manager’s focus is purely on the task, delivery may very well be happening, but the absolute minimum will be delivered. Meanwhile, the individuals within the team will feel demotivated, so creativity, innovation and motivation will fall. In this situation, you should support your manager so they recognise that productivity within the team is crucial to the success of all involved. Manage the expectations of others It is not unusual to hear a manager complain about badly performing individuals who are junior to them. In my experience, it is necessary to look at the manager who is complaining and gain clarity on their expectations before addressing this with the ‘badly performing’ manager. I hear senior managers discuss junior managers’ performance and it’s not unusual to hear comparisons such as: “They don’t work as quickly as me”, or “They don’t work to my standard”, or “They don’t carry out the process as I would have done”. The issue here is not whether the more junior manager is underperforming, but instead whether the senior manager has set realistic expectations. Have they allowed the junior manager to find their own style? A reasonable question I might present to the senior manager is: “At the outcome stage, what is the difference between what has been received and what was expected?”


Challenge the negative attitude Of course, you get the manager who simply doesn’t care about the role or the outcomes. There is a good chance this individual believes they are ‘owed’ something from the business, whether that’s monetary recognition or a promotion, etc. This individual will be making the conscious decision to give the least amount of effort and energy to their role. When a manager has this attitude, it creates a toxic environment for their team and others whom they encounter. It also feeds a negative working environment. In this situation, the goal is to find the individual’s reason for attending work. Depending on their level of engagement and their own sense of worth within the workplace, you will hear reasons that range from “the money” from demotivated individuals to “career progression and opportunities” from the more engaged. This ‘don’t care’ attitude can be a larger obstacle to overcome. It is important to set and review clear objectives with the individual in question. Furthermore, unacceptable outcomes and behaviour can be dealt with immediately to demonstrate they will not be tolerated. Managers need to understand that their outlook impacts not only their own reputation, but also that of the team and the business more broadly. Margo Manning is a leadership and management coach and facilitator. She is also author of ‘The Step-up Mindset for New Managers’

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INTERNATIONAL INSIGHT AND BEST PRACTICE 59 Generation next Leadership in a globally interconnected world


he next generation of leaders has an overwhelming number of options to choose from in the global business world. The CEMS students I teach – many of whom will become future international leaders – sometimes ask my advice on how to best navigate so many opportunities. My response to them is that they are lucky to have so many options, and they no longer have to think in a linear way. To help them focus, however, I encourage them to think clearly about their values and life purpose. So which areas will this next generation of leaders need to focus on in a globally interconnected world?


Diversity While gender will remain crucial, the cross-cultural element will also become increasingly important, since technological progress means that different cultures – while retaining their individual identities – have started to meld together. Then there is the generational element. How do you successfully lead teams made up of several generations? Most important for me, however, is diversity in thinking. Typically, extroverts talk a lot, so people think they have all the ideas. Yet introverts often also have fantastic ideas, but managers do not always pull these out of them. As hard as organisations work to nurture cross-cultural teams and bridge the gender gap, if they do not acknowledge different ways of thinking, they won’t bring out the best in their people.


Coaching style In a globally interconnected world, intuition and the psychological aspects of leadership – softer skills – are increasingly relevant. True leaders are asking how they can get the

60 It’s not rocket science NASA’s struggles to turn top performers into stand-out leaders

Generation next What will be expected of leaders in a globally interconnected world? By

Sunita Malhotra

64 South Africa A business environment in desperate need of transformation

very best from everyone. Future leadership will also become increasingly virtual, thanks to flexible working practices. Human nature will never change, however, which means leaders will need to work hard at building authentic relationships in a remote environment. They will also need to be highly intuitive, because they will have fewer social cues to pull from. They must be willing to dig more deeply to understand individuals, so they can appreciate what they bring to the table.


Managing ambiguity Leaders must find their entrepreneurial spirit in order to manage ambiguity. Since the rapid pace of technological change has brought a large amount of unpredictability into traditional markets, leaders won’t easily be able to draw from the past in order to know what to do in the future. Instead, they will be expected to make use of new technologies in ways that can’t even be anticipated or understood today. For these leaders, solutions won’t come in a neat box. They will need to innovate and find creative solutions that aren’t obvious.


Purpose-driven leadership More and more, we are teaching leadership to the next generation in a way that encourages them to be more purpose-driven. The logic for this is, as a leader, if I recognise my own life mission, it will enable me to be agile, creative and open to other people’s maps of the world. Personally, I believe that thanks to the combination of focus, purpose and values, the next generation has the potential and power to positively transform the globally interconnected business world.

Sunita Malhotra is a professor at several universities, including Université Catholique de Louvain, where she teaches the CEMS master’s in international management


Beyond Borders

Rocket managers What stops top performers from taking off as leaders? Writing Paul Sean Hill


any of us, except perhaps a lucky few, have worked either for, or with, managers who made us wonder, “What happened to that guy?” or “She used to be so good; what changed?” As I was promoted into higher management, I was astonished to discover that it is not rare to have this feeling. For an organisation known for its leadership culture, I was repeatedly surprised that even NASA Mission Control Center’s best-performing team members often fizzled out as managers. It was only after we had transformed our own senior management team at NASA that I realised all leaders feel pressures that tempt them down a path towards leading poorly as they move up in any field or organisation, not just in spaceflight. To be clear, good or poor leadership does not only relate to personal style and demeanour. Good

leaders, and the work environment they create through their management practices, strengthen a team’s ability to succeed in whatever their mission is, from space operations to business management. Poor leaders, on the other hand, make it more difficult for the team to succeed, or worse, can lead the team into avoidable failure – from the small to the truly catastrophic.

Tragic failures To illustrate how we can lead a team to failure, consider the three accidents in which NASA tragically failed to protect our astronauts: Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia. In each of these cases, there were widely known indicators of serious issues that were not being properly addressed, but there was also a strong drive to stay on schedule at all costs. Over time, this led the NASA community to gloss over issues and concerns, and apply insufficient technical rigour. Sometimes we relied on





previous success (“We took this risk successfully before, so it must be safe”). Other times, respected leaders made judgments, relying on their personal experience, opinion, and the authority of their position (“They’ve never steered us wrong, and they’re in charge”). Apollo 1, 27 January 1967: During a systems test on the launch pad, a fire broke out in the cabin and was fanned by the 100% oxygen atmosphere, killing all three astronauts. In the investigation that followed, and before the next launch, several hundred known systems problems were fixed. Apollo flight director Gene Kranz identified the flaws in the environment leading up to the fire in a speech to Mission Control a few days after the fatal accident: “We were too gung-ho about the schedule, and we locked out all of the problems we saw each day in our work. Every element of the programme was in trouble, and so were we… Nothing we did had any shelf life. Not one of us stood up and said, ‘Dammit, stop!’” Why didn’t any of us stand up? NASA had a goal to reach the Moon by 1969, and there was great concern we were losing the race to the Soviet Union. Space Shuttle Challenger, 28 January 1986: For weeks, Morton Thiokol, the manufacturer of Challenger’s booster rockets, and NASA managers advised against launch during the record cold weather. This was due to a risk of rocket exhaust (plumes of fire) burning through seals on the sides of the rocket. Although this scenario had been witnessed on other cold launches and test firings, their objections were challenged by a senior NASA executive who said: “My God, Thiokol, when do you want me to launch – next April?” The manufacturer relented, and seven astronauts died after fire leaked through one of the seals, causing Challenger to explode 73 seconds into flight. Why did Challenger explode? NASA was under pressure to fly more flights per year to justify the cost of developing the space shuttle, and a delay risked us falling behind in that goal. Space Shuttle Columbia, 1 February 2003: A large piece of foam insulation broke off the external tank and struck Columbia’s left wing during launch. The NASA community concluded that it was not a risk, however, and could be repaired after the mission. A similar piece of foam had broken off two flights earlier and had been dismissed without tests or analyses because this foam had a history of breaking free and had caused no damage so far. During re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, the fireball that formed around the spacecraft entered the hole in its left wing. Seven astronauts died when Columbia disintegrated on the way to landing in Florida. Why did Columbia fall apart? After almost a decade of being pushed to be “faster, better and cheaper”, NASA justified more and more risks

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THE MANAGEMENT CLOUD Agency management



Strategic risk/ opportunity

SENIOR LEADERSHIP Business performance

Development project management

Leadership development

MIDDLE MANAGEMENT Infrastructure sustainment

Personnel management

Personnel development

FIRST LINE MANAGEMENT Astronaut training

Mission planning


Domain expertise




Flight director

based on previous success. We were also under pressure to finish construction of the International Space Station on schedule. In each failure, Mission Control and the astronauts made no mistakes. The senior managers in question were accomplished and trusted top performers who had earned their way up the ranks. Although their intentions were good, managers at several levels of management – leaders – succumbed to common ‘pressures’. Their policies or direction resulted in failures that could have been avoided – preventing the loss of 17 lives.

The dangers of leaving Mission Control


So what happens to us? How do we evolve from top performers into leaders who make those decisions and lead talented teams into failures? It’s not that we make that choice. But some things change in our environment that can then change how we look at things – how we make decisions – as we are promoted. The diagram above illustrates the ‘management cloud’ we are promoted through, starting with our first claim to fame as top performers in real-time in Mission Control. Think about the contrasts. At the Mission Control Center, in real-time, the focus is primarily on domain expertise and remembering that we


could fail the mission, destroy the spacecraft and, most importantly, cost the astronauts their lives through our action or inaction. That realisation can make the difference in tough situations by retaining the discipline to take deliberate, wellthought-out action, and it is a dominant part of the culture at this level of the organisation. Take us out of Mission Control, however, and away from those immediately catastrophic risks, then that empowering connection in our decision-making becomes more difficult to see. At the same time, the responsibilities shift further away from rocket science and into business and personnel management roles that we are frequently not prepared for, or find uncomfortable. The higher we are promoted, the more both of these change. As a result, instead of adapting to new and evolving roles, leaders may trivialise or ignore the behavioural changes that are necessary to coach a team through top performance. It’s not unusual for these managers to say things like: “Forget the touchy-feel stuff. I got here by being good and decisive, and I’m going to keep playing to my strengths.” To them, every challenge is a nail, and they are just the hammers that pound those nails flat. And so begin management practices that encourage teams to ‘get in line’ rather than challenge management. Next comes what is called ‘the paradox of success’. As leaders continue to be successful, each next success reinforces previous leadership behaviours, including the behaviours that aren’t helpful. It also becomes incrementally easier to make decisions based more on previous success and less on careful scrutiny of the current situation. Again, notions such as “We were right before,” and “They’ve never steered us wrong,” can start being substituted for factual discussion and deliberate risk assessment, despite the popular warning that past performance is no guarantee of future results. The crippling nature of this phenomenon is that the boss – the leader – determines the expected or acceptable behaviour for any team. If you, as the boss, are led astray by the management cloud and the paradox of success, you can take the entire enterprise with you and everyone in it. The organisation can fail specifically because of the environment you create as a leader through your behaviours and those you demand from your team. This principle doesn’t apply only to managing risks that could end in catastrophic explosions (rockets, power plants, refineries, aviation, etc). In any business, bad decisions can cost the company money, erode product or service quality, drive away customers, or lead to bankruptcy. Consider the accountancy giant Arthur Andersen, which



1 2 3 4

Create a high-trust, value-based team environment 2 Align the team to a common purpose and prioritise strategies and decisions according to how well they contribute to team success. 2 Practise full transparency in all discussions and decision-making, from the leader to the team, among peers on the team, and in the team’s interaction with the leader. “All cards are face-up on the table for the full team in every decision.” 2 Allow and expect all members of the team to engage on every subject. Train the way you fly and fly the way you train 2 Say what you mean. There can be no unmentionable or ‘undiscussable’ concerns. Rely on the alignment to purpose and values to get through any uncomfortable discussions. 2 Mean what you say. Take deliberate action based on the conclusions reached in this high-trust team. Regularly reinforce the high-trust environment as a team 2 Discuss the need for transparency, value alignment and engagement across the team. 2 Deliberately assess individual and team behaviours against these principles. 2 Explore new ideas and remain open to behaviour changes that enhance this high-trust environment. Remember that a leader who is not listening to the team is a failure waiting to happen


was a $9bn company in 2001 with 85,000 employees worldwide and a reputation for integrity. Two years later, after the Enron scandal – directly involving only a few Andersen managers – Arthur Andersen had been reduced to a mere 200 employees, ending its formidable century-long legacy. Explosions or not, this was absolutely catastrophic for Arthur Andersen – it effectively blew up its rocket. In every leadership role, the management cloud and the paradox of success gradually conspire to obscure your view, keep you from challenging some things, and lead you to take risks without being as deliberate as you should. As a leader, the biggest difference you can make is not being the smartest person in the room. Instead, ensure that you, and everyone who works for you, stay aware – even paranoid – of these risks. With that awareness, you can preserve an environment that enables every brilliant idea, criticism or doubt to be heard, giving you the best chance to not succumb and not blow up your rocket (or your business). Paul Sean Hill is a former NASA flight director and retired director of mission operations for human spaceflight. He is author of the book ‘Mission Control Management’ (also published in the US and Canada as ‘Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom’). To connect with him for workshops and talks, see www.atlasexec.com


A new dawn Will President Cyril Ramaphosa bring about a much-needed transformation of South Africa’s business environment? Writing Lisa Steyn


collective sigh of relief has come over South Africa. Jacob Zuma’s destructive reign as president ended in February, and hope has sprung since Cyril Ramaphosa took his seat as head of state. The rand, South Africa’s currency, strengthened in the wake of the changeover, and business confidence is improving. For the private sector, it’s a time to reflect on lessons from the tough Zuma years, and also to get back to work to tackle challenges with renewed vigour. Business in South Africa is not just under pressure to perform financially, it also faces a social and political context that simply cannot be ignored, according to Professor Derick de Jongh, director at the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership. “I don’t think any other place in the world has this mix of social, political, economic and environmental issues thrown into one pot,” he says.

Transformation trial The South African government, led by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), has adopted


a policy of radical economic transformation in a bid to stoke inclusive growth in the country. And for the most part, business is on board. Since the first democratic elections that brought the ANC into power in 1994, the economy has grown, but unevenly so. In fact, measured by the Gini coefficient, South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world. At 26.7%, the country’s unemployment rate is also among the highest globally. “The top issue is that of transformation,” says Tanya Cohen, chief executive of Business Unity South Africa, a non-profit representative of organised business. “It is not enough to grow the economy, we have to transform it.” She adds that businesses in South Africa recognise that the pace and depth of transformation in the sector have been inadequate to date. Introduced in 2003, the state’s policy of black economic empowerment (BEE), amended to broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE), aims to enhance the activity of black South Africans in the economy, but it has been criticised for only benefiting a small elite. For example, while the South African National Treasury estimates that black ownership of companies

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listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is 20%, de Jongh says that at executive and managerial levels, the faces remain largely white. The reality is that businesses have failed to produce senior black executives and have failed to invest in women. Even state-owned companies suffer from lack of diversity at executive level. “B-BBEE is the law, but when you talk about transformation in the economy, it is much broader,” says Bonang Mohale, chief executive of Business Leadership South Africa, an independent association. “We need a win first on transformation, so that the business sector in South Africa is broadly reflective of the demographic.” Mohale attributes the failure of the empowerment and transformation policies to date on the government not taking them seriously, while cronyism and cadre deployment (appointment of party loyalists to key institutional posts) flourished in the Zuma years.

Corruption watch The impact of corruption, both in the public and private sectors, is a major concern for business, Cohen believes. “It has a damaging impact – not just because of wastage and leakage, but because of the impact on morale and not being able to compete on a level playing field. That’s a business confidence issue. Regretfully, it is often the sectors dealing closely with government that have been caught in this.” The Gupta family, originally from India, formed a close relationship with the now-resigned President Zuma and built an empire through corrupt business dealings with the state. Additionally, large multinational corporations, such as auditing firm KPMG, strategy consultancy McKinsey & Company, and global software giant SAP, have come under fire – and investigation – for their roles in facilitating state capture (where private parties influence state decision-making). In December 2017, the chief executive of Steinhoff International, a South African retailer gone global, stepped down over allegations of accounting irregularities. “Corruption is systemic globally, but in the past few months South Africa has been hit hardest with a concentration of epic failures,” says de Jongh. Cohen, meanwhile, argues that the private sector needs to take a no-tolerance approach to corruption, and lead from the top in terms of clean governance.


Small businesses The effects of corruption are amplified for small businesses, says Siki Mgabadeli, communications director at the Small Business Institute. “If you are a small firm trying to get the contract that will

South Africa


1,221,037 km2 in land area

$326.541 billion nominal GDP

56 million people

57.44 years, life expectancy

11 official languages *Sources: Wikipedia and the World Bank


take you to the next level, but then government or big business closes that door for you, you are forced to see if you know somebody, who knows somebody else. That is how corruption takes root,” she says. Still, Mgabadeli also has reasons to feel positive. “I don’t think corruption is part of everybody and everything,” she explains, noting that Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked South Africa 71 out of 180 countries, according to its level of corruption. New Zealand was the least corrupt country, while Somalia came bottom, ranked at 180. Mgabadeli argues that, rather than corruption, South Africa’s bureaucracy and red tape are the biggest hindrances for small businesses. The World Bank’s ease of doing business index last year ranked South Africa 136 out of 190 countries, for ease of starting a business. “We are, in fact, moving backwards,” she says. Cohen notes that the small business contribution to employment in South Africa is 65%, as opposed to 95% elsewhere. “It’s a signal we are not generating enough employment,” she explains. Furthermore, policy doesn’t pay enough attention to the needs of smaller businesses. Research conducted by Business Unity South Africa found key barriers to be the business registration system, issues around labour market compliance, and tax compliance. “We think there is work to be done,” says Cohen. “That’s why we, as organised business, are trying to target these issues and focus on small business in every piece of legislation.” Meanwhile, South African business, in general, faces the dual challenges of regulation that is not fit for purpose, and policy uncertainty. “We have regulation overlapping and policies that don’t speak to each other across departments,” says Cohen. This is manifested in key areas of concern such as energy, land and mining – where investment has stalled. There is hope that stability will come with Ramaphosa’s administration. The president has already demonstrated his leadership in terms of labour relations, which have been strained and unstable for a long time in South Africa. Protracted strikes have been commonplace when wage agreements are due for renewal. We have yet to see what other changes South Africa’s new president will bring. But in his maiden State of the Nation Address, made in February, he laid the ground for his presidency with the following words: “We should put behind us the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence in leaders. We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us.” Lisa Steyn is a business reporter at the South African ‘Mail & Guardian’


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Future of Work


STRATEGIES FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS 67 Culture of caring Working for a company where happiness comes first


68 Age of empowerment The role of intent-based leadership

hen I tell people my job title, which is director of happiness and people, I’m usually met with laughter, followed by some confusion, followed by lots of questions. So what is happiness and why does it matter at work? The answer to that question is different for everyone. What makes me happy may not make anyone else happy, which is why I ensure everything I do at Social Chain, the global social media marketing agency, includes something for everyone. Work is the place where you spend most of your time. So, for me, there is nothing worse than seeing people standing in the rain outside a corporate office block, changing from the trainers they walked to work in and clearly feel comfortable in, to a pair of heels or office shoes. A workplace should embrace who you are. At Social Chain, we have created a community that even includes our seven office dogs. It is a place where you can be your true self and know that you are cared about. The final line of our company values statement demonstrates this approach perfectly, saying: “Most of all, we give a shit, always.” The energy here is contagious and everything we do is based on mutual trust. We have unlimited holidays, a ‘see the world’ policy, and an array of social clubs, including a book club, a film club and sports clubs. We have a huge focus on mental health and wellbeing, with a company therapist and weekly yoga and meditation classes, as well as the happiness one-to-one meetings that I hold with the team. It’s not uncommon at Social Chain to have two or three new starters per week.

70 HR analytics How to balance ethics with efficiency

Culture of caring What is it like to work for a company where happiness comes first? By

Kiera Lawlor

72 Fourth Industrial Revolution Essential skills for the next generation

We want them to feel welcome from the second they walk through the door. So after their history and culture lesson, and getting their Polaroid taken for the huge family tree painted on the wall of our office bar, we gather the whole team for their initiation. During the initiation we get to know them, ask questions and play games. They have to try to make it on to the leader-board of our hula-hoop challenge. The longest hula-hoop so far has been five minutes. In my opinion, the traditional workplace is dying out. In the UK, we see a huge increase in young people starting their own businesses, and I believe this is because the next generation does not want to settle for uninspiring environments and working for companies that do not put the happiness of their employees at the forefront. For example, I pride myself on being early for everything, but people have bad days – their bus is late or their train is cancelled, and unexpected circumstances can make them late. With their day already off to a bad start, the last thing they need is for an angry boss to make them feel even worse. At Social Chain, we trust people and know that if they are late, there is a good reason for it. It’s more productive to try to brighten their day and let them get on with their work. I believe other companies must adapt and build their businesses on culture if they want to attract the best people. They will have to do this for the right reasons, though, because culture is not something you can fake. You actually do have to care. For any company that wants to bring happiness and create a culture that people love to be part of, I would say: “Care about the people, listen to them and trust them – the rest will follow!” Kiera Lawlor is director of happiness and people at Social Chain

Future of Work


Age of empowerment In the digital age, leadership is about creating accountability and responsibility at all levels Writing Peter Russian


he recent Future of Cities report on the future of employment across the UK generated some eye-watering headlines about how one in three jobs in some areas will be replaced by robots over the next ten years. While the headlines are designed to attract our attention, and there are nuances by sector and region, there is an inevitable trend towards automation and digitisation, which will

have a profound impact on the way we work and the way organisations lead their people. As working practices and organisations change, so too will the role of the CEO. We have already seen how technology – and the smartphone specifically – has changed the power dynamic between customers and organisations. Customers’ choices and voices are challenging organisations to be far more adaptive and responsive to the needs of people. Customers are now far better informed about the options and benefits of

Intent-based Leadership

JOB DESCRIPTION FOR A 21ST-CENTURY CEO The role of the CEO needs to change. A modern job description could cover: 2 Creating a culture where people think, not just do ‘jobs’ 2 Making it safe for people to speak up and contribute 2 Understanding the operating environment before trying to ‘fix’ the people

2 Pushing authority and responsibility as close to the customer as possible 2 Giving control to people according to their level of competence 2 Demonstrating how the desired change can be achieved through small, incremental steps

any service or product they want to buy than they were in the past, and they now have a public voice to tell the world about their experience. Twenty years ago, holidaymakers relied largely on travel agents, who promised wonderful locations, delicious food and luxury hotels. If the reality was a building site next to a motorway and an unfinished pool, we could complain to the rep and write a stiff letter to the travel company. In return, we would get an apology and £200 in vouchers to put towards our next holiday – with the same firm. The travel company held the power in the relationship. Now, before we even book a holiday, we can get the unvarnished truth from other travellers. And if we get held up en route, we can tell the world about the airline’s appalling customer service.


Power to the people The transformation of the travel industry is being imitated across all customer-facing industries, giving the customer more choice and a louder voice. Rigid organisational structures, led by a small number of top-down managers, are becoming increasingly out of date. More and more companies now understand the need to instil agility and responsiveness into their culture and structure. They are recognising that the most important relationship in the business is not the one between the CEO and the finance or sales director, but the one between the customer and the person providing the service or making the product for them. It’s not just the demands of the customer shaping a different approach, but the level of competition and pace at which new ideas are adopted and then replicated. We know our economy cannot, and should not, be competing by forcing labour costs down. Instead, it should be competing by innovating and differentiating. When we think about innovation, we are inevitably drawn to the importance of research and development breakthroughs – a vital part of our future. But innovation doesn’t just come from the research and development team; it can come from everyday

FROM INSTRUCTIONS TO INTENT In his YouTube animation, What is Leadership? renowned leadership speaker David Marquet explains how he turned the command and control environment of a US nuclear submarine into an environment based on intent. Such was his success that Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, described Marquet’s ship, Santa Fe, as the finest example of empowerment he had ever seen. View the animation at bit. ly/1sUSnGw



work, encouraging people to try different ideas and get the perspective of the people who are closest to the work – often the real experts. The challenge is that in the last 20 years we have managed the hell out of organisations with top-down targets, SMART (specific measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) objectives and the implementation of processes to fill the vacuum of original thought. In other words, we have created cultures that value compliance, not thinking. And so, in some respects, the thing that has changed least about the workplace over 100 years is our approach to leading and managing people. While technology, working conditions and automation have transformed the world of work, our approach to leadership has seen more of an incremental than transformational change. We are still largely stuck with the idea that there are leaders and there are followers. What’s more, the prevailing notion is that leadership is about a small number of talented people directing others towards a goal, a notion that is increasingly flawed. It is a belief rooted in the era of mass production, when getting people to complete repetitive tasks to a consistent quality was king. It is also a model that is reinforced by self-interest, because it is often easier for leaders to be the architects of change around them than to change their own role.

A different way We live in a different world today to that of the past. You simply cannot order people to be creative or flexible. The modern business needs people to think, not just do their jobs, and there is evidence that organisations and leaders are beginning to understand what this means in practice. Glasgow Housing Association, the largest social landlord in Europe and winner of the EFQM Global Excellence Award in 2017, gets this point. It recognised that its traditional model of top-down leadership wasn’t fit for its tenants, who needed responsive and capable people with the ability to think on their feet and make the best decisions for the communities they serve. So it enabled its people to ‘Think Yes’ and the result has been an astonishing transformation in service and performance. Across the UK, from police forces to financial services, there is a growing sense of the need to find a different way. Developing leadership cannot just be about continuing to polish a small number of people in the higher echelons of an organisation. It has to be about creating accountability and thinking at all levels. Clearly, this has a profound implication on the role of leaders, starting at the top. Some people now suggest the CEO should become the chief enabling officer. Peter Russian is chief executive of Remarkable, the UK and Ireland partner for Intent-based Leadership

Crunch time How can organisations use HR analytics in both an eective and an ethical way?


eople are vital to the success of any business. So organisations that can attract individuals with the right competencies, and manage and retain talent eectively, are setting themselves up for long-term success.

Writing Jason Muller

Illustration Anna Wray

HR teams are collecting and generating more data than ever before, but often with only a very vague idea of how to extract any value or insights from it. Fortunately, new analytical capabilities are revolutionising the field of HR, and evidencebased approaches are complementing intuition to enable better HR decisions.

Future of Work

HR analytics can facilitate better decision-making in areas such as hiring, reward and retaining workers who are most at risk of leaving. The possibilities as to what HR professionals could do with analytics appear to be limited only by our own analytical creativity. But what we could do, and what we should do, using HR analytics are altogether different questions. So what are the key considerations for organisations that want to make effective and ethical use of HR analytics?


Data quality

HR analytics is no different from other forms of analytics, in that data quality and availability are crucial. Whether we’re talking about consumer behaviour, shopping trends or traffic reports, quality analytics rely on quality data. Increased use of data science techniques and technology by businesses globally is driving demand for data scientists. These are the people behind the data, mining the all-important insights and presenting them to the C-suite or department heads, to inform the overall company strategy. The goal of HR analytics is to provide an organisation with insights for effectively managing employees so that business goals can be reached quickly and efficiently. A survey by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IBM reported that companies with a high level of HR analytics had 8% higher sales growth, 24% higher net operating income and 58% higher sales per employee.


Keeping the human in the loop

Using data to drive business decisions can be a powerful business strategy. But decisions may miss the mark if they are made solely on what the data tells you, without the insight that comes from human experience and intuition. Furthermore, computers do not have empathy, nor do they know right from wrong. Unless they keep the human in the loop, specifically in HR decisions, many businesses could find they encounter discrimination cases, gender bias and other vulnerabilities arising from the mishandling of personal data.


Data security


Making sure the data is available to people who need it may sound obvious, but this should not come at the risk of data security, particularly where personal data is concerned. Data experts should be ambassadors for data security. Data security is vital and sensitive, so businesses should have protocols and measures in place to keep it secure. There is a balance here, however. If you have an in-house or external data science resource, you need to make sure HR can access the data. The quicker this access can be achieved, the faster the delivery of insights will be.

HR Analytics



Ethical access

Having access to personal data is fundamental in HR, but sensitivity is important. Yes, many HR professionals, through the very nature of their work, analyse employee personal data, but they don’t need to know everything about staff. HR professionals must make sure that personal or sensitive data isn’t shared unnecessarily, and that there is always a business need for the data that is being held and analysed for HR purposes. For example, if they want to analyse data to understand how to reduce the churn rate at a company, the dietary requirements of employees are probably not relevant to this process. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect in May, will be a game-changer in the way businesses can store, analyse and share personal data. Indeed, HR analytics professionals already promote the involvement of legal advisers from the outset of an HR analytics project. Preferred approaches to ethical (and GDPR-compliant) behaviours must be documented in company data usage policies. In many cases, however, decisions about the appropriateness of analyses will still fall into grey areas. Legislation and policies are rarely able to keep pace with new technologies and applications.


People versus platforms

Research company Forrester undertook research that found companies using data science far surpassed competitors that do not make use of their data resources. Nevertheless, it is crucial that businesses appreciate that they will only be able to tap into this advantage if they see data science as a holistic strategy, not just as a tech system or platform plug-in. Companies need to ensure that they have access to the right people first, and the right tools and platform second.

Final thought Effective use of personal data in HR enables organisations to better connect with, hire, retain and reward their people. There is, however, a line to toe. Regulation is relatively cut and dry, but in cases where legislation does not adequately cover data issues created by new technologies, or where privacy-related challenges are not covered by the law, the onus is on the organisation to consider the expectations of the people whose data they are looking to use. And those people are their workforce. Jason Muller is chief operating officer of Pivigo, a data science marketplace. To find out more, see www.pivigo.com

Future of Work


Fit for the future What role can employers play in equipping young people with skills that are relevant to the future world of work? Writing


he Fourth Industrial Revolution is one of those terms that can mean different things to different people. I define the Fourth Industrial Revolution in broad terms, acknowledging that it is not just about robotics and artificial intelligence, but also about the significant opportunities that are arising at the interface of different technical disciplines. Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, says in his influential book on the subject: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution… is not only about smart and connected machines and systems. Its scope is much wider. Occurring simultaneously are waves of further breakthroughs in areas ranging from gene sequencing to nanotechnology, from renewables to quantum computing. It is the fusion of these technologies, and their interaction across the physical, digital and biological domains, that make the Fourth Industrial Revolution fundamentally different from previous revolutions.” It is this wider view of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that companies must harness to compete and grow in the future. This vision also gives hope that the doomsday scenarios of mass unemployment and vast inequality are over-pessimistic, since these new technologies, and their interaction with each other, can establish whole new industries that demand workers with different combinations of skills – technical, organisational and interpersonal. So what skills will the workforce need to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Creativity has a place Many people expect the future will be largely defined by engineering, science and technology, so they assume that what we require is a renewed

Julie Feest


push for people to develop STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills. This thinking has driven a lot of work experience activity designed to inspire young people to follow STEM studies and STEM careers. It is also reflected in the current design of workplace experience programmes that are delivered to young people by education-business linking activity. While this is good as far as it goes, educationalists are now talking about teaching young people STE(A)M subjects, rather than just STEM. The ‘A’ represents the arts input, which provides creativity, creative problem-solving, entrepreneurialism, ingenuity, innovation and an ethical compass, all of which are moving swiftly up the scale of skills required by managers who are looking at recruitment beyond 2020. It is important that there is blended-learning activity to develop these more creative attributes alongside knowledge-based STEM activity to ensure future employability. The other skills area important for future employability is that of personal and interpersonal skills, including what are sometimes called non-cognitive skills – including collaboration, conscientiousness, perseverance, social intelligence and teamworking. These are sometimes seen as innate skills but, in fact, they can be learned. Central to that learning is recognition of what they are and why they are needed in a workplace environment, combined with some practical experience of using those skills.

Where business comes in The pace of change is rapid when it comes to projections of future job types and the skills required for such jobs. Close collaboration between industry and education will become ever more necessary to develop the recruits that industry will require in even five years’ time. To

Next Generation


be the material that employers wish to recruit, students need to understand: 1 That literacy in scientific, engineering and technological disciplines is likely to be their best route to a sustained and lucrative career. 2 That, in addition to these disciplines, the workplace requires collaborative and communication skills that are often not routinely taught in the classroom environment. 3 That machine intelligence will, in many ways, exceed individuals’ own intelligence in their future working environment, but this is not necessarily a threat. Employees’ creative use of this knowledge base, combined with the other skills outlined above, will allow them to be valued employees in a wide range of new industries. This understanding is best fostered through workplace experience activity, where young people have an opportunity to see the type of jobs industry has to offer, meet role models already undertaking these roles, and do activities that allow them to apply the collaboration and communications skills they need to develop. Young people should also get to hear first-hand from an employer about the kinds of personal and academic skills that the employer will be looking for in new recruits. Seeing is believing, so regular exposure to a commercial workplace is of immense benefit in setting young people on the path to being economically useful during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


Costs and benefits to employers Running workplace experience programmes with local schools does not come free to employers, since they have to draw on their own resources as part of the process. Furthermore, a finance director is not necessarily going to be swayed by the ‘common good’ argument that the organisation is helping to fuel national growth by equipping our young people for future economic usefulness. So, what direct benefits can a company expect to gain from engaging with workplace experience activity, and what are the most cost-effective ways of doing so? Firstly, a local employer is not just helping to develop the overall national future workforce; they are developing the specifically local workforce that will be their main hunting ground for future employees. They will also be engaging with the local community and building goodwill for their company, workforce and suppliers. Plenty of evidence suggests that contacts made with young people through workplace experience can carry through to eventual recruitment. A company can keep in touch with promising students by offering them vacation work or gap year experience, which


eventually leads to full-time employment. This makes workplace experience a vital first step in future talent management. Secondly, the benefits to existing staff of hosting workplace experience placements must not be underestimated. My own organisation, the Engineering Development Trust (EDT), frequently hears reports of individuals and teams that have been re-energised by the experience. Often, it reminds them what it is about their work that they enjoy, and they feed off the young people’s wonder and enthusiasm for the activities they do. Also, employees at all levels of seniority develop their communication and teamwork skills by engaging with the young people. As one chief executive remarked: “Holding the attention of a dozen 13-year-olds for an hour is excellent practice for presenting to the board!” To get best value for money from delivering workplace experience, I would recommend that employers do not reinvent the wheel. Organisations exist that are experienced in developing proven programmes for all age groups. Meanwhile, the national Industrial Cadets accreditation offers an assurance to employers that accredited programmes, from whatever provider, meet a national standard of excellence, giving young people a varied and engaging experience of work and access to the information they need for their decisions about future careers. Julie Feest is chief executive of education-business linking charity, the Engineering Development Trust (EDT). See www.etrust.org.uk

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77 How to... change someone’s mind Art of persuasion

s a professional coach, I am only too aware of the importance that I have placed on the development of my practice through effective coaching supervision. Recently, this has been further honed by my engagement in training coach and leadership supervisors. It is sometimes said that to really understand something, you need to teach it. Aside from triggering the usual feelings of technical inadequacy, this caused me to reflect on what it means to be a ‘supervisee’, and the responsibilities that brings in contrast, say, to being a ‘coachee’. Unlike executive coaching, where the client can turn up for a session having done little or no preparation, the coaching supervisee is engaged in a deeper undertaking. The major item on the agenda is the development of the self as coach. Rather than fixing things, it is about improving one’s practice in service of the end client. To be truly effective, this deep reflection on practice is predicated on the ability to be vulnerable – to be able to bring up any relevant issue without fear of being judged or made to feel inadequate. So choosing to be a supervisee begins with the careful selection of a supervisor. Once this is done, supervisees need to give thought as to how to turn up at a session. Key here is the ability to reflect on our practice. We need to ‘know thyself’. This means having insights into how we learn

78 Strategic networking Ways to connect

80 Book Club Edge reviews top leadership titles

From coach to supervisee Reflection on practice comes with being a skilled practitioner By

Jeff Matthews

82 MyLeadership The Institute’s new learning platform

83 Inspiration Directory Ideas resource

best, how we give and receive feedback, what our levels of emotional awareness are and, perhaps above all, how to ‘dialogue’ – that is to express these ideas and feelings in an authentic way. There are no generic contracts here. Each must be crafted and reviewed regularly, and tweaked appropriately to remain fit for purpose. Coaching specialist Michael Carroll offers a useful checklist for thinking about preparation for supervision sessions: 2 Are there any crises or other situations that need my immediate attention? 2 Have I discovered any themes emerging in my work that I would like to review? 2 Are there organisational or training areas I would like to talk about? 2 Have I allowed enough time to prepare? 2 Have I created an environment of honesty and openness with myself? 2 Am I able to recall my work from notes, voice recordings, etc? 2 Do I need to create an agenda? 2 What do I want from this session – for my client, my organisation and myself? 2 Do any areas of the supervisory relationship need to be reviewed? We owe this preparation to ourselves and our clients, as part of our commitment to being skilled practitioners engaged in ethical coaching.

Jeff Matthews has been a coach for more than 25 years. He is currently working with the Institute of Leadership & Management on ways to meet the particular needs of its coaching members



What package is most motivating for staff? A problem shared is a problem halved, so what did the Institute of Leadership & Management’s Fellows and Members have to say about a management dilemma? The dilemma We would like to motivate our staff so that they achieve higher sales targets. Should we pay a performance-related bonus to achieve this, or simply offer a more attractive base salary?

How our Fellows and Members responded A performance-related bonus motivates an employee to push his or her limits (if money is a driver). A high base salary provides the potential employer with a selection of some of the best candidates. Abraham Maslow is the guide here.

Illustration by Janne Iivonen

Ella Minty FInstLM

Performance and reward is a complex issue. Generally speaking, if a company wishes to increase its sales staff’s achievements, it should do this by way of incentives, rewards and, importantly, the provision of appropriate infrastructure, rather than by increasing the base salary. While a higher base salary might initially help to attract new staff, it is human nature to push less hard if the proportion of base salary is high in relation to the performance-related bonus. Providing incentives and rewards alone (on top of base salary) is not enough to achieve higher sales. In my experience, without the correct guidance, many sales people won’t reach their full potential, regardless of the available bonus. Therefore, a suitable infrastructure is important, which should consist of:

2 A positive work culture (celebrating success); 2 Processes such as appraisals to motivate staff; 2 Appropriate staff training; 2 A strategic sales approach with realistic targets; 2 A fair method for measuring success; 2 The provision of necessary tools; 2 Professional guidance or mentoring; and 2 Timely payment of rewards. Performance-related rewards need not, and should not, be purely financial. Nonfinancial rewards, such as an annual gym membership or similar benefits, can be enjoyed all year round, and paid-for family weekends away will be remembered for some time. More important than the level of bonus is the structure of the bonus. A sales person with good performance should be able to achieve a reasonably good bonus, but if they achieve more, rewards should increase significantly, so there is always more to strive for. Furthermore, if people are working hard for results, the company should have a process that manages work-related stress to ensure consistent long-term results. Of course, people’s personalities vary, and some will be so grateful to receive a higher basic that they will perform better anyway. But for mediumand larger-size companies, my recommendation would be to consider a lower base salary with a high financial and non-financial reward system, in conjunction with the infrastructure to underpin ongoing success. Nathan Hanika


Live & Learn HOW TO...

How to… change someone’s mind


etting someone to change their mind is tricky. We feel we have a lot to lose, both emotionally and in terms of our reputation, when we own up to being wrong. So, the first rule of changing minds is to get to people before they make a choice. Or at least, before they share that choice with others. That’s why floating voters are so important to politicians. There are many tactics that can help you change someone’s mind. If we assume, for argument’s sake, that it is my mind that you want to change, here are ten approaches you could try:


Show me unforeseen consequences Are there any consequences of my position that could be damaging? Let me see them and tell me how I can mitigate them by adopting a different position. After all, fear is the strongest motivator of all. Avoid blame Show that you understand my position and that you can see why it is an entirely reasonable one to have taken. That way, I can feel right – and I can also feel blame-free. Take me for a walk You may find that my intellectual position is, in my unconscious mind, tied to my physical position. Taking me to a new place will literally allow me to see things from a different point of view. Getting me moving will help get my thinking moving, too. Give me the credit for your point of view Show me how your perspective is consistent with something I have said or done in the past, and that it is entirely consistent with who I am.



3 4

Try these practical tactics for getting other people to budge By Mike Clayton


Show me how my position is inconsistent This is more dangerous. You may be able to demonstrate an inconsistency in my point of view, which will at least lead me to challenge it for myself. But be careful: don’t tell me I’m wrong. Instead, let me draw that conclusion for myself. Ask me how observers would perceive my position If you can encourage me to see my ideas from another perspective, I may spot the flaw that you have spotted. Stay committed Your commitment to your point of view, and your enthusiasm for it, may influence me to reassess my thinking. Salespeople know that it often takes several visits to make a sale. Show me other people who oppose my interpretation If people whom I consider to be wellinformed, and to have similar perspectives to my own, do not share my opinion, I will feel under pressure to re-examine it for myself. Introduce new information Give me a reason to change my mind that allows me to save face and not back down. In the context of new information, I am not “changing my mind”, I am “acting on new information”. It does not need to be anything major; it is just my excuse. Make concessions yourself If you want me to concede something, then trigger my desire to reciprocate by making your own concession.






Mike Clayton is a speaker, management trainer and author of 14 books, including ‘How to Influence in Any Situation’ and ‘The Influence Agenda’. Find out more at mikeclayton.co.uk



Is your networking not working? You will connect better with others if you stop doing the right things in the wrong way Writing Darryl Howes


enture capitalist Richard Stromback is a regular attendee at the World Economic Forum at Davos, perhaps the premier global networking event. Yet, remarkably, he told the Harvard Business Review in 2015 that 99% of networking

is a waste of time. When asked for the real secret to networking success, he replied: “The answer is to be extremely efficient and focus on what is truly essential.” This way of thinking suggests that you should aim to be more strategic in your networking activity. But what does that actually involve?

Start with the end in mind Being strategic means there needs to be a plan, coupled with some forethought around what you want to achieve – for example, a new job, a change of career, building sales referrals. As Stephen Covey advised in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Start with the end in mind.” There also needs to be a brief audit of the resources available to carry out your plan. Can you make sufficient time available to do what you want to do, or should you scale back?

Advice about the right way to network abounds. Incantations such as “Work the room!” and “Be yourself!” rarely help the sincere networker. Strategic networking recognises there are different strokes for different folks. It doesn’t seek to impose a rigid system on the individual. Rather, it provides a framework or scaffold upon which your personal and authentic way of doing things can hang. Neither is it prescriptive in definition or in detail. Many formal networking occasions are straightjacketed by expectation. Is it possible instead to look for networking opportunities in other contexts – the ticket queue at the train station, perhaps? Modern life and modern technology both offer new opportunities to connect successfully with people who are unlike us. Those with whom, on the face of it, you may have little in common. Strategic networking recognises that business challenges are similar across industries and cultures. What generates value is access to, and sharing of, the solutions used by these uncommon contacts. Similarly, in a world where formal career structures are disappearing fast, it’s never been more important to retain a finger on the pulse of what’s happening beyond the immediate horizon. Diverse networks can provide that longrange forecast.


Finally, strategic networking has another twist. It emphasises the importance of a follow-up, recognising that networking gatherings are rarely the be all and end all. The main event often comes after initial contact is made. Part two is a one-on-one with the other person, allowing for deeper development of the networking relationship.

different perspective to your world, it can boost your problem-solving abilities. 2 Want to get creative? Next time you attend a large gathering, pick a fabric colour and actively seek out and engage with those wearing your chosen hue. Using this criterion alone avoids unhelpful bias.


Follow up. Because networking is an activity built on reputation, it is important to live the correct values. 2 If you have promised to make a referral, pass on a contact number or send through that article of mutual interest; always make sure you do it. 2 Similarly, if a contact has provided something of interest or value to you, don’t forget to build on the relationship by saying thank you. It’s a basic courtesy that is often forgotten. 2 Recognise that networking doesn’t end when the venue catering staff clear the plates and glasses. In fact, all experienced networkers realise this is only the beginning of good networking practice. What happens after the event is just as important as your behaviour during the event, if not more so.

Networking in five easy stages Strategic networking practice consists of five easy stages:


Prepare. You wouldn’t run a marathon without undergoing training. This analogy is useful because perfecting your networking skills is a long game. The building of good and useful networks requires time and application. 2 If you are attending an event, enlist the organiser in your wish to connect effectively. It’s in their interest to have a successful gathering where people engage socially and commercially. Seek their input in making it happen for you. 2 Take time to find out something about the history or unique features of the networking venue or surrounding area. This will help with small talk.


Think outside the venue. Many networking opportunities present themselves outside of formal networking contexts. Any interaction with another person provides a platform to learn about their world and discover which basis might exist to further the relationship. 2 Cultivate an open mind. Lucky people are often said to have a valuable skill: they consistently encounter, and benefit from, chance opportunities.



Do it. You can’t face-to-face network from the garden shed. Get out there and engage. 2 When you enter a networking venue, give your brain time to adjust to the many stimuli that will be acting upon it. It can be a good idea to head for the refreshment area first. Here you can find your feet and settle in. 2 Don’t rush into a sales pitch. Your conversation partner does not wish to feel threatened. If you are facing a challenge and need some help, this can be best positioned as a request for advice from a longstanding friend. As Professor Adam Grant of the Wharton School says in his book Give and Take: “Seeking advice is a subtle way to invite someone to make a commitment to us.”


Find the difference. It’s human to seek out others whom you perceive to be like you, but this can lead to an echo chamber of similar ideas. 2 Try to extend your network beyond your immediate and familiar circle. When people unlike you lend a

Opportunity knocks?


Ultimately, it is for each individual to decide on a networking strategy that will work, depending on what we want to achieve and the resources available. But we should consider using a more focused and flexible method that builds upon what is normally construed to be networking. Networking is a social activity. But it can also be strategic. Darryl Howes helps people and organisations to connect better with business partners. Contact him at darryl@strategicbusinessnetworking.co.uk


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Managing Conflict Author David Liddle Price £29.99 Kogan Page

Highly recommended for anyone wanting to move from win-lose to win-win Recent events in Hollywood and elsewhere have illustrated the serious consequences that workplace bullying and harassment can have, both for individuals and the organisations they work in. Still, workplace bullying is just the tip of the conflict iceberg discussed in this book. Conflict, David Liddle tells us, is an inevitable part of being human. What matters is how we choose to respond to it. Do we focus on the grievance: who is right and who is wrong? Or can we focus on the outcome everybody wants: resolution? Liddle argues for the latter. Drawing on considerable experience, he explains how our human response to conflict is fight, flight, freeze or fall (give in). But by strengthening our emotional intelligence, we can learn to find a fifth response: flow. Developing his point, Liddle describes how mediation can put

emotional intelligence into practice. By learning how to manage our own emotional reactions, we start to listen without blame. Then we can engage others so they get past their emotional reactions. Finally, we can manage a conversation to find common ground and resolution. Liddle shows how new policies for dealing with workplace conflict can help to create a workplace culture where conflict is nipped in the bud, and even bullying becomes a thing of the past. He also provides some useful tools, although these probably won’t be enough to make you an expert overnight. Nevertheless, they provide a good basis for you to start to create appropriate change in your organisation and in yourself. If I have any criticisms of the book, it is that it is too long, unnecessarily repetitive and doesn’t set out the connections between the chapters clearly enough. Chapter structure is often poor and instead of being woven into a seamless story, they stand too much alone. The final section on resolution resources is too short to provide much beyond headlines, and the book leaves out important tools such as cognitive behavioural therapy and non-violent communication. This is still a comprehensive book, however, which will be useful for senior line and HR managers who wish to move their organisations from conflict to resolution. It will also be of value for individuals who want transform their own reactions to workplace conflict. Reviewer Finn Jackson is a leadership and change coach, consultant and author

Leadership Results Author Sebastian Salicru Price £17.50 Wiley

Performance is intrinsically linked to leadership at all levels This book challenges many existing leadership paradigms, taking the reader on a journey that provokes them to challenge both their strengths and weaknesses, and those

The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership Authors Elizabeth Fox & Martin le Comte Price £13.99 Matador

Always believe in your soul At first glance, this book looks like many others on the shelves: an inspirational picture of a golden sunset and cover assertions of the great


of others, while providing a framework to support self-development. The model is grounded in sound research evidence that is presented in a logical and easy-to-digest narrative. This is accompanied by strategically placed case studies, examples drawn from Salicru’s professional experience and some thought-provoking stories. Leadership Results engages the reader while stimulating critical analysis of traditional leadership models and the model that is presented in the book itself. The book is divided into three sections: leading in context; self-leadership and leadership development; and collective leadership development. These are split into

chapters that outline the integrated model. Each chapter closes with a helpful, succinct conclusion and a set of questions the reader can apply to support their own development. On a personal level, having recently completed my MBA, I found this a stimulating read that draws together threads of theory and practice in a very effective way. As an experienced manager, it is also a book that I anticipate keeping close to hand and re-reading a number of times to support my continued development. Leadership Results does an excellent job of putting research into practice.

things to come should you follow the rules articulated within. Inside, it follows expectations. There’s a nice early distinction between management and leadership, and a reminder that we all have the choice to “wear the relevant hat”, depending upon the circumstances. The authors set out a series of rules (although you may view them as principles of good practice) designed to help you consider how to lead more effectively. These rules cover the fundamentals of leading, including the importance of putting other people first, treating employees well, accepting accountability, and setting a good example. The book’s informal narra-

tive style feels akin to receiving sage advice from a friendly relative, and the pages are peppered with reflections on the authors’ personal experiences. At times these can feel a little contrived, but are offered in good faith. While there is nothing groundbreaking in this book, it makes for a pleasantly personal tour through the things we should all be doing more of everyday. Some key takeaways at the end of each chapter would have been helpful, however. Overall, this simple little book is sufficient to encourage gentle reflection. Reading it probably won’t be wasted time.

Reviewer Dr Arwen Wilcock is research manager at the Institute of Leadership & Management

Reviewer Professor Andrew Sharman is an international strategy, culture and leadership consultant

The Negotiation Book Author Nicole Soames Price £9.99 LID Publishing

Prepare, prepare, prepare when you negotiate Practical learning books with words of wisdom from experts usually just seem to highlight my inadequacies. That’s why I was surprised that The Negotiation Book left me with enough confidence to try out what it preaches. It covers the whole ebb and flow of a negotiation process, with sections on developing a mindset; preparing for success; understanding different situations; dealing with gameplay; managing the negotiation conversation; and, of course, practice. The examples of phrases to be used in negotiation conversations were good, but I wanted more. I would have also liked more on closing a deal. At times, the emphasis on emotional intelligence felt too strong. But if you have a negotiation ahead, then this book is an easy-to-understand tool to help you prepare. Reviewer Julie Steel is a learning and development consultant



The power of two The Institute’s new platform, MyLeadership, recognises that development is both a personal and an organisational endeavour By Kate Cooper


earning and development professionals have talked about the 70:20:10 model of learning since the 1980s. The roots of the concept – that 70% of learning is experiential, 20% is social, and just 10% is formal – go even further back than that, however. Although there may be debate about the exact percentages, the discussion around 70:20:10 has emphasised the vital importance of informal learning as an item on the development agenda. Regardless of whether learning is formal or informal, the individual is at the centre of it, because it is they who are engaged in learning and hopefully motivated by it. They decide whether or not to apply what has been learned. Also, they decide whether to read an article in a magazine or on a website, or to use Google to search for information. Even if people are set challenging projects and tasks, perhaps as part of an action-learning strategy, they learn from the experience and the experience stays with them.

Life-long learning In a learning context, organisations primarily play a support role. They can encourage people to learn by giving them the time, resources and opportunity to do so, but they cannot force them to learn if they don’t want to. Also, people can – and do – learn by observing their peers in the workplace, listening to conversations and asking questions. This informal, spontaneous learning is most likely to happen in an environment where inquisitiveness is fostered. Furthermore, as individuals seek to make sense of what they have learned, and test out concepts and ideas


with their colleagues, the culture of the organisation they work for will keep being recreated. No organisation, no team and no situation is ever exactly the same as another. Keith Grint, professor of public leadership at Warwick University, highlights the difficulties of trying to adjust a leadership style that worked in a previous situation to a new context because how we judge the situation is, of course, a mere judgment in itself. A leader has to keep learning and evolving in the context of both the organisation and society more broadly. Once we understand the complexity of the leadership landscape, conversations with like-minded individuals to test out and reformulate ideas, and fill knowledge gaps, are a powerful way to learn. The Institute of Leadership & Management’s new learning platform, MyLeadership, is the starting place for leaders who want to enhance their knowledge of the practice of leadership and build meaningful relationships with their peers. You can use it to access a range of insightful, topical and thought-provoking content relating to our five dimensions of great leadership. Also, you can test yourself online, benchmark yourself against others and have your learning recognised – in conversation – with an Institute certifier. MyLeadership recognises that while much learning is individually driven, the process of making sense of learning, and embedding it, is a social experience that happens in organisations through conversations. The Institute is a channel for people with an informed point of view to come together, in communities of practice, and acts as a catalyst for those conversations to take place. To access MyLeadership, visit myleadership-institutelm.com/app#/mlp Kate Cooper is head of research, policy and standards at the Institute of Leadership & Management




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Leadership Legend


Leading the learning Exceptional things happen when we channel power through people, rather than hold power over them


n the face of it, leadership is a vexed issue. There can be no leaders without followers. The two terms define each other. A great leader attracts many followers and the greater that leader appears to be, the sharper the contrast with mere followers becomes. This raises a serious problem. Should we admire a leader who induces followers to walk humbly and compliantly in his or her wake? If followers just do as they are told, does this not reduce them to the status of sheep? Even if followers act morally, those morals are not their own. Great leaders are singular, but followers are plural and may include thousands, even millions. Should we elevate one person and subordinate thousands to him or her, like the screaming fans of a rock star? What will that do to society at large? Even if the leader is staunchly independent, does this not then confirm the dependence of the vast majority? Should one person be elevated above so many? It would seem that rather than enhancing their followers, the leader has effectively reduced them to ‘yes-persons’ or fans (fanatics) trundling in the wake of celebrity. Indeed, a good definition of bad leadership is to leave your people in a worse condition than before. The führer principle, applied by Adolf Hitler and other tyrants, consists precisely of stealing the independent thought and moral judgment of one’s people to enlarge one’s own grandeur. Charisma is often theft from the faithful. The more you turn people into mindless followers, the more destructive the regime. Whatever visionary leadership consists of, it is not the kind of leadership that disempowers followers and turns them into persecutors and the persecuted. What is needed is


Charles Hampden-Turner

power through people, not power over them. It is the job of leaders to create leaders and set them an example. These issues can be solved by the leader who helps us to learn. Leaders no longer have the answers, if they ever did. But they do have the questions to which their followers must discover the answers if the organisation is to stay in touch with customers and new technologies. They have the challenges their subordinates must meet. As the chief inquirer, the leader leads the quest for answers and explains what we need to know. She or he educes (‘leads out’) the skills of

IT IS THE JOB OF LEADERS TO CREATE LEADERS AND SET THEM AN EXAMPLE other people, adding her or his energy to the energies elicited from others. Transcendent leadership occurs when leaders change followers and followers change leaders. This is when leaders have the theory or strategy and followers the data or the results, and a dialogue ensues where each informs the other. Leaders generate future leaders by way of delegation. Give a team the resources, power and time to solve a problem – say tensions between the UK and the Tokyo office. Over three months that team has freedom to think creatively and propose a solution for which it is then held responsible. The longer the interval, and the finer the proposed solution, the better this is as a rehearsal for future leadership. We are paid for our personal discretion.

Charles Hampden-Turner is a British management philosopher, and was senior research associate at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge

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