Ideas and Insights


Excellent Leadership: above the Dunbar number

Robin Dunbar is an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist; his fame largely focuses around a single number, 150. The theory of Dunbar’s Number suggests that 150 is the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships. It has formed the basis of a key element of Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, and the strategies that follow from that work.

If you are a leader of more than 150 people then who you are as a person and what you do in the immediate here and now is only one level of leadership. My colleague Tim Dalmau in his portrait of Candice paints some of the timeless principles and behaviors that go with effective leadership no matter what the setting. But these principles and behaviors work best in groups of less than 150. Read more…

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Becoming The Best You: the objective science and subjective techniques of highly functional people

Rattlesnakes, rabbits and rollercoaster-riders all have an autonomic nervous system: that is the part that keeps your heart beating and causes you to blink when a fly is about to hit your eye. Whilst much of this nervous system serves each group similarly, the really interesting thing is that each of these groups use this nervous system very differently.

Indeed, if you have ever taken a look around the reptile enclosure at a zoo, you’ll be lucky to see one of the reptiles do much more than barely move. They are behaviorally-challenged exhibits. Notice there’s never usually a flock of snakes or a swarm of iguanas: reptiles are not known for their pack mentality. And you’ll be conscious of the fact that, in the reptile world, herbivores are rare; and bigger reptiles tend to eat smaller ones, regardless of whether lunch is a member of their own species. Read more…

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Candice: a high performing leader

High performing leadership appears in the most surprising places and often when you least expect it. It might be the behavior of the Cabin Service Manager on a long-distance flight, the manager of Beauty and Health Clinic, or the behavior of the owner and duty manager of a restaurant. But when it appears the principles and behavioral elements are the same as those written about in text books, journals and magazine articles for global corporations, mining companies and financial service firms. The principles and behavioral elements of effective leadership are universal, it seems.

I opened the door into this up-market restaurant in Clare, a regional town in one of the best wine-making regions of Australia. I was struck immediately by the large number of close bodies – a seemingly impenetrable wall of talking, noise, music and clinking glass – hipsterville! Read more…

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Intangibles matter when designing organizations

When experts talk of the term organization design, they are referring to the operating model and processes, systems, capabilities and structures that underpin and organization and help it to deliver value to its customers and stakeholders, efficiently and effectively. Organization design is both an art and science! Read more…

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The sphinx

The airline attendant greets you at the door of the aircraft, with a warm smile and says welcome aboard. Throughout the flight s/he is pleasant, attentive and responsive. As a passenger you have no idea of their trials and tribulations, nor for that matter do many of their airline colleagues.

Nor would you expect to know such things.  The person is “in role”, as are each of their colleagues and the flight crew together operate as a team. They have a job to do. So it is with teamwork. When you are a member of a team you contribute not only to the joint task but you do so in role as a team member. And you do this no matter your personal temperament or the life issues with which you may be dealing.

High performing teams in manufacturing plants, mine sites, hospitals, professional service firms are no different. Invariably they are well formed and high functioning, they have the relationships and ways of working that allow them to be so. And well-formed teams have certain characteristics including active participation and contribution from all members with one another and to the task. But teams can’t form without this participation. Read more…

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Sustainable Change: a whole of systems view

Towards the end of 2018, Tim Dalmau and Jill Tideman had a paper published, “The Practice and Art of Complex Change”. The paper draws together work over the last 15 years and is fairly long and extensive. We have prepared a short excerpt from this so that our ideas on leading change are more accessible to more people.

Click here to download your copy

Jill Tideman

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Assessing team development needs – Handbook #3

The third handbook in a series on Team Development gives you guidance in how to assess your team’s development needs.

In the previous Handbook,  #2 a nine-dimensional framework was outlined to provide a structure for your approach. In this handbook there is an approach suggested for determining what are the priority areas for focus are for your team.

Just enter your details below to receive your free copy of the handbook, Assessing team development needs.

 

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Review: One Mission: How leaders build a team of teams

One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams, by Chris Fussell and C.W. Goodyear published in 2017, follows on from the highly successful book, Team of Teams, that Chris co-authored with General Stanley McChrystal and others in 2015. General McChrystal, was commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) whose last assignment was commanding all U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. He is currently a senior fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and co-founder of the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm where Chris Fussell and C.W Goodyear are his colleagues.

Generally, I would not be attracted to a management book written by military men, whose ideas are rooted in their military experience. I know this says more about me and my biases, but my assumption was that the military experience is very different from the corporate and organizational world – and I was sceptical of the relevance to that world. I eventually picked it up to read on the recommendation of my colleague, Tim Dalmau, whose judgement in this area I respect. Read more…

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The leader as a source of contagious destruction

Much has happened in the last two decades to re-shape our understanding of the effect we have on one another. There was a time when we used to think we were independent, autonomous agents who chose to react (or not) to another’s behavior. Those days are well and truly gone.

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Going beyond information exchange: good questioning skills

As far as we are aware, humans are the only creatures that ask questions. This shows a level of self-insight: that we don’t know or understand everything about a situation. Questions take us beyond the obvious.

Generally, questions are seen as ways to elicit or exchange information, but much more importantly questions can,

  • unlock learning
  • fuel creativity and innovation
  • reveal how another person ticks, and
  • build relationships

The use of carefully framed questions is an undervalued tool in organizations and teams. Unfortunately, our education system does not seem to recognise the value of questions or the skills required to construct and use questions. Questioning is a skill to be honed. Our education systems emphasize advocacy at the expense of skilled inquiry.

Read more…

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