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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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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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.

Read more…

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When institutions go bad

Tim Dalmau has written a thought-provoking paper, based on his reflections on governance and leadership arising from the recent revelations in the Australian banking industry. He explores parallels across a range of settings. Click here to download your copy of this paper.

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Receiving feedback

It was Ken Blanchard who supposedly said that feedback is the breakfast of champions. Here are 8 simple tips for receiving feedback

Above all else breathe! Move your body (significantly), avert your gaze momentarily, and then take two deep breaths.

Do not look at the person. Do not maintain eye contact. Look to the side and nod your head in acknowledgement to the rhythm of the other person’s speech. Despite everything you have been told to maintain eye contact it is actually counter-productive when dealing with volatile information. It will only male you tense and slow down your thinking and do the same for the other person.

Never argue; just say thanks. Remember, another person’s feedback is about their experience of you not about you.

Don’t let any clarifying questions you have turn into a defense of your position.

Think carefully and slowly about what they have said to you. Don’t immediately reject or immediately reject what the other person has said

Go ask someone else whom you know for their frank honesty with you about how they see the issue and be careful when doing this not to “lead the witness”. In other words, triangulate the feedback.

Look for opportunities to stop doing or start doing critiqued behaviors.

If you feel the criticism was justified and you are better off for it, don’t forget to close the loop and share your progress with the feedback giver.

If you don’t know to change the behavior then ask for help or seek a coach.

Cathy Taylor

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Hades organizations: joyless and in the throes of dying?

From a 2014 Ideas & Insight article,  the Unconscious Organization I commenced a series of articles about organizational archetypes based on the Greek Gods. I have drawn on much of the material in the book I co-wrote with Bernie Neville – Olympus Inc.  We described 16 unconscious patterns of behavior (archetypes) that describe some of the dynamics of organizations, exemplified by the characteristic behavior of 16 Greek gods and goddesses.  It is through an understanding of these patterns in organizational dynamics that we can better understand and influence organizational culture. Read more…

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New book on the art and science of leading well

Our colleague Ian Sampson with Ben Baldwin, both of the Queensland-based Leadership Foundation, have recently produced a valuable and readable addition to your e-book leadership and management library. The Etiquette of Leadership: The art and science of leading well,  by Ben Baldwin and Ian Sampson. Read more…

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Lessons from geese

Life is not a solo activity. It is an act of co-creation with all those with whom we interact over the course of a life time. No less in organizations with those with whom we work, as in any other sphere of life.

As we were reflecting on the learnings we have collected over the years, a number stand out and one is the metaphor based on geese flying in formation. An oldie, but a goodie, as they say. We share this again for the messages and learnings are timeless. The source is unknown.  They are simple truths which resonate with our experience and that of many of our clients

“As each bird flaps its’ wings, it creates an uplift for geese following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.”

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because the are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay with those who are headed in the direction we want to go, and be willing to accept their help as well as to give our help to the others.

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and share leadership. People, as well as geese, are dependent upon each other.

The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging, and not something else.

When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down it honks for help and two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it. They stay with the sick goose until it is able to fly again or it dies. Then they launch out on their own, or with another formation, or catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we too will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong …. and honk when we need help!”

Unknown source

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