Does your organisation ignore talents?

Does your organisation ignore talents?

An interview with Sir Ken Robinson starts with the question “Do schools kill talents?”.  I could not help seeing a parallel between what he was saying about schools and leadership in organisations. He thinks “talents are like the earths natural resources…they may be there, but you may never discover them”. He sets out a number of arguments about how schools ignore children’s talents, including the following: Schools focus narrowing on academic ability and in the process ignore other talents. They do not expose these hidden talents – and the child might never discover them.  I know some organisations put people in jobs that do not allow them to express and grow their true talents – everyone misses out. If innovation is putting good ideas into practice, our schools are failing.  The way they schedule classes around subjects undermines any possibility of children developing, exploring and putting good ideas into practice.  They go from one subject to the next every 50 minutes or so – having to down tools, change tools, re-tool – there is no way they can get their teeth into a project.  Re-organising schools around tasks or projects that matter instead of subject would result in a very different dynamic.  Imagine what might be possible if health and aged care were re-organised around the person in care?  Or around a big improvement project? The problems that results from the traditional approach to education are: Creating a “dead culture of standardisation” Depression, disengagement; drugs to keep them switched on The problem with data becoming the purpose of the exercise rather than simply an indicator of the problem He asks...
Achieving the big stuff – what an 11 year old can teach us

Achieving the big stuff – what an 11 year old can teach us

I have been talking about willpower a bit lately.  And it is possibly because I am finding it harder and harder to exert it as I run to the finish line of 2014.  It is almost like I have given up on 2014 and am now focusing on 2015.  And, clearly I am not alone.  Yesterday I bailed up my daughter’s gymnastic coordinator after noticing that very little gymnastics was going on in the last half hour of the class (which is when I rocked up – I hope there was more happening before then).  The reason I actually bailed her up was that Isabella was upset in the car saying she was falling behind and needed more help to do the flips but the help she needed was not part of the sessions she was doing.  I had seen her watching the other kids flip flopping across the mat and could see a wistful expression on her face knowing that she so much wanted to be able to do the same.  So, I turned the car around and marched back into the gym. The gymnastics coordinator was most concerned that Isabella was upset and agreed that she was definitely very motivated and determined to learn.  She explained that the whole term had been a bit ‘ratty’, with a number of the kids just not being interested and distracting the coaches.  She assured me that next year would be different and proceeded to tell me all about their plans.  Far from being assured, I asked what the coordinator she was doing in the final next 4 sessions of this...
The Autonomous Collaboration Paradox

The Autonomous Collaboration Paradox

In today’s world, we are faced with changes and problems that require massive action – not incremental adjustments to the way we work.  But whatever your mission impossible, make no mistake you can push through with a team of autonomous individuals working collaboratively. The Autonomous Collaboration Paradox draws together the conditions needed to enable individuals to operate at their highest levels in collaboration with others.  Like a fine Swiss timepiece, achieving autonomous collaboration requires the full integration and alignment of the individual, teams and organisation. The Autonomous Collaboration Paradox  Organisations achieve greatest individual engagement by ensuring the individual’s roles and responsibilities tap into their passions and demand full use of their strengths.  The most productive, synergistic and creative teams emerged from genuinely collaborative interactions and supported by empowering organisational structures.  But to make the transformational shifts that are needed to thrive in this new world, individuals, teams and organisations must display enormous courage.  Today is not the day to be risk averse, and sit back hoping that things will settle down. They won’t; and they never will again. The world cannot afford passengers; humanity cannot afford indecision; action is needed now.  To unlock the power the Autonomous Collaboration: 1.    Be empowering. 2.    Practice enabling management. 3.    Establish empowering organisational structures. 4.    Foster collaborative...
Girl power – Where we get it and where we lose it.

Girl power – Where we get it and where we lose it.

I was at the Australian College of Health Services Manager’s Women in Leadership Symposium yesterday.  There was a powerful array of speakers – women who had really made their mark in the world drawing from their unique strengths. Dale Fisher, (CEO of Peter Mac, former CEO of the Women’s in Melbourne), spoke with great passion of her experiences as a leader in the health industry drawing on a feminist framework. Moira Rayner (a fervent feminist and co-author with Joan Kirner of “The Women’s Power Handbook”) who presented her experience of women and power, and Jay Bonnington (Director of myriad boards, including HESTA) who provided her insights into women on Boards. These women really got me thinking about where the women in the leadership ‘ movement’ had come to and questioning whether we might do better to rethink how we as individuals approach the question of getting ahead in ‘leadership’.  The question is about power and how we as women get it and use it – no bones about it.  But when it was all said and done, I could see that the argument about what enables or inhibits women’s ability to get ahead in leadership fell into 2 distinct camps – internal and external.  And yes, it reflects your locus of control. Internal sources of power – Know Your Why Dale was awe inspiring and yet very human – a potent mix.  She reflected on a question that gave her the clarity and strength to ride the rough times (and she has had some very public rough times) and that is: “What is your guiding principle?”  This means being...
Empowering Management Mindset: The key to empowering others is adopting an empowered mindset.

Empowering Management Mindset: The key to empowering others is adopting an empowered mindset.

I have found that the single most important factor to influence and individual’s ability to reach their potential is their sense of self-empowerment.  This is the difference between them feeling that they can make a difference or not, both in their own lives and to others.  So managers who help individuals feel empowered, unlock and even expand their team’s potential.  Empowering managers create the conditions and opportunities for their team to use their initiative, pursue activities that they are good at, and make decisions about how they will produce work outcomes. But it takes a ‘hands off’ approach to managing, which takes trust in their people, and in their own ability to deal with whatever happens.  So, self-empowered managers are empowering.    What can managers do to empower their people? Develop they own sense of self-empowerment – a belief that you make the difference.  This requires an internal locus of control and a conviction that you are responsible for your team’s performance. Provide crystal clear vision, direction and expectations: Make sure everyone understands where they should be heading, and how they individually need to get there. Create opportunities for each individual to work to their strengths, and continually develop these strengths Do not tell people how to do their jobs.  Instead, provide regular feedback on results and mentoring so they can develop their own capacity to self-manage Allow and expect your team members to make decisions about how they achieve their work, and how they deal with issues that invariably crop up. Recognise and reward initiative. Where do you need to start to become a more empowering manager?  If...
TIME & TRUST- Rare Management Commodities

TIME & TRUST- Rare Management Commodities

The less time we have the more trust we need if we are to make an impact as managers.  “…even senior managers spend little time on planning or abstract formulation, are subject to constant interruptions, hold short face-to-face meetings which flit from topic to topic and respond to the initiatives of others far more than they initiate themselves…the conclusion…the notion of the manager as strategist, planner and thinker is a myth (Mintzberg, 1975) and that even senior managers allow themselves to be diverted from their ‘real’ work by constant interruption and capricious interpersonal contact…the office is not place to work…the only effective way for an executive to make sure he (sic) is not interrupted is to be out’. (1963, pp.113-4).  People Management Then and Now 50 years later, has anything really changed?  Do you still find yourself flitting from one meeting or crisis to the next?  Dealing with other people’s problems; getting sucked into the minutia of your team’s work and interpersonal issues?  Well over 50 years ago, one way of dealing with the increasing complexity of production (and the industrial revolution was pretty complex compared to what came before), was the production line – separating the whole job into smaller tasks. In this way, managers could employ less skilled people, teach them to do one small thing all day long (so they became specialists in that thing), and supposedly it was easier to manage these people – but you had to have a lot of managers to do it.  In essence, this management paradigm was built on total mistrust in the employee.  Mistrust that the employee had anything...