Ideas and Insights


Psychological safety is the response that you get

Paul O’Neill and Tim Dalmau recently wrote a paper that outlined the processes that occur inside a person when they feel psychological safety. As a follow-up paper they look at all the forces that can operate in group settings to make individuals unsafe, the process behind it and what we can do about it as leaders.

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The Great Resignation: real or not?

In 2021 the catch-phrase ‘the great resignation’ has been seen splashed across Australian headlines and in the media. The phrase, coined in the United States in late 2020 refers to a surge amongst American’s in quitting their jobs, as a response to Covid-19, and was seen to be gaining momentum as communities learn to live with Covid.

Are we seeing the same phenomenon here in Australia? Australian Bureau of Statistics data does not seem to indicate that this is real, at least so far. However, rather than debating whether this is a real phenomenon, more importantly for leaders of organizations, is to really understand to navigate the inevitable conflicts and dilemmas in moving to a new way of working, post the acute phase of Covid-19.

Ian Sampson and Jill Tideman have written a short paper outlining an approach founded on creating the conditions for meaningful dialogue and conversation between leaders and employees themselves. This type of approach is essential for complex problems such those associated with workforce management and dynamics.  It is also applicable to a whole range of other complex problems that are best addressed by taking a whole of systems approach.

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Unconscious bias: how to become more aware of personal bias.

The perception of one’s age, gender, gender identity, physical abilities, religion, sexual orientation, weight, and many other characteristics are subject to bias by the [erceiver. None of us are immune to having biases, both consciously and unconsciously. In workplaces, it is everywhere but can be particularly impactful with respect to recruitment, and in performance management.

Unconscious or implicit bias is an automatic reaction we have towards other people. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing. These attitudes and stereotypes can negatively impact our understanding, actions, and decision-making. They can lead to instinctive assumptions such as a nurse must be a woman, or an engineer must be a man, that men are more credible leaders or those of another race or skin-tone are untrustworthy. In extreme cases it leads to reactions such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ social movement driven by the perceived bias against black people in the US that they are more likely than not to be criminals. In many cases it is so deeply woven into our cultural fabric that it is hard to be aware of it.

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When safety is lost

In this paper Paul O’Neill and Tim Dalmau explore the tricky area of psychological safety and the power of learned patterns of response and the power of filters. This paper is the first of two. Another paper will follow on how we can get rid of these limitations and how those in power can get their outcomes without triggering fear responses.

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The perils and pearls of searching

To find an ideal candidates for a senior role in an organization or for a Board position, companies often turn to search firms. In this paper Tim Dalmau and his colleague, John Peebles, gather their collective experience to identify the required conditions where using a search firm will improve significantly the chances of finding a pearl – a successful candidate who delivers the results and fits the style of the organization.

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How am I being experienced as a leader?

If you ask five different people if they think they are likely to be good leader, then you will get five different answers.  But those different answers will tend to settle out into two different groups; those who assume there are those who innately know how to lead and those who believe good leaders can be trained. It is the old nurture versus nature question in another guise and it inevitably misses a core point.

Such a question often arises at that stage in a leader’s career when they are presented with an increasing number of situations (read subordinates and team behaviors) where they don’t seem to be able to either change the individual’s behavior or remove some pattern of unhelpful group dynamics.

Such contemplations inevitably are framed on the assumption that there are some who innately know how to lead and there are others who have grown to become effective leaders. Such people worry if they are not in the first group, then what are the chances of them joining the second group someday and dealing successfully with troublesome individuals and groups.

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Vale, Steve Zuieback

Steve Zuieback our dearest friend, highly valued colleague, and member of Dalmau Consulting, died in Ukiah, California, on August 11, 2021, 4 days before his 70th birthday.

To say he will be much missed is a huge understatement.  Right up until he died, he was giving of himself, and his wisdom to us as colleagues, and to countless others – family, friends and colleagues around the world. That was Steve!  A humble, caring, compassionate listener, wise counselor, mentor, group facilitator, teacher and leader who lived his values every breath he took.

Steve began working with Tim in 1996. He was introduced to us through our colleague, Michael Grinder, and there was an instant connection – it was his skills, his mindset, but most of all it was who he was as a person that attracted us. He worked with us and our clients in the USA, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia. On occasion, we worked with some of his American clients as part of his business, Synectics.  Our clients were indeed the beneficiaries of his prowess in group facilitation and dialogue where his knowledge and experience was second to none. As part of our team, he listened, supported and shared his experience and wisdom with each of us and as a team member.  He authored 2 books, one with Tim, and has left a wealth of free training resources in the form of documents, blogs, videos and e-publications.

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Podcasts for uncertain times #4

If you are like us, we find podcasts to be an easy way to access new information or gain different perspectives. For one thing, they are great for making effective use of time when you are travelling, or you need a break from sitting in front of your computer.

So again we have made a small selection from the plethora of podcasts that are available, that we hope they appeal to a range of needs and interests.

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Balancing it all

It is not easy being a CEO or Board member in today’s tumultuous times, balancing so many factors simultaneously. This paper lays out a strategic pathway through what are multi-level highly dynamic forces at work. He draws on learnings from a number of fields including Rio Tinto’s self-induced misfortunes earlier this year.

He describes what has to be done by CEOs and Boards to not end up in a similar predicament

Click here to download the paper, Balancing It All.

Tim Dalmau

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Mind games: speaking to large groups

This week I’ve been working with a great group of people and a recurring theme has come up, something I come across often: fear and anxiety speaking in front of a large group of people.

Many people were confident speaking in front of a group early in their careers or as young adults, yet as their careers have progressed, despite their increasing capabilities in their roles, they find now themselves becoming increasingly anxious at the thought of having to deliver a presentation or speak to a large group.

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