Thursday, February 7, 2019

Bank On It: How the Financial Services sector must bring wisdom to decision making


The Hayne Royal Commission in Australia has upended the central myth of the financial services sector that "greed is good". As if we learned nothing from Gordon Gecko, the central character portrayed by Michael Douglas in the 1987 movie "Wall Street", and by Stanley Weiser in the 2010 sequel. The script is too real to be entertaining any more.

The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was released this week, and it presents an eye-watering litany of misdeeds, misappropriations, mismanagement, and missed opportunities for reform. Both business and government leaders appear to have been sitting on their hands while customers were routinely fleeced of their money. How did this become so seemingly normal?

Cognitive Bias

In 2010, German researchers found strong evidence that cognitive bias most likely contributed to the decision making which led to the global financial crisis of 2007-2009. The Hayne Royal Commission report arrives at a similar conclusion that business-as-usual clouded judgement at best, and at worst led to intentional deception.

While the report's recommendations call for regular checks of culture and performance bias, in practice this goes to the heart of how we make decisions, for whom we make decisions, and the context of our decision making. In 2011, Daniel Kahneman, the father of behavioural economics, popularised the idea that we think both fast and slow about problems before we make decisions. He described System 1 thinking as intuitive and quick to make assumptions, while System 2 thinking is rational and calculating and therefore slower. Both systems are subject to bias, particular when our environment is loaded with cues about how we are expected to behave in order to fit in. But is it possible to exert enough willpower to overcome cognitive bias each time we make an important decision?

The Third System

Contrary to Daniel Kahneman, there is a Third System of thinking, which my colleague Dr Barry Partridge and I discovered while researching decision making bias at the University of Wollongong, 2010-2015. System 3 turns out to be slow and calculating like system 2, but it has some of the emotional characteristics of system 1. Depending on the nature of the decision, it seems we first jump to conclusions based on our experience (system 1), then we analyse the problem to rationalise our conclusions (system 2).

However, if the problem is outside our experience, or is intractable, or if we are faced with a dilemma for which there are no clear right or wrong answers, then system 3 kicks in. This is where we "think from the heart" using a first-person perspective to sift the data through our emotions, discern the reality of the various impacts of the decision on others and ourselves, and consider deeply the wider consequences both short and long term.

Our blindness to this Third System of thinking leads us to either make intuitive leaps of faith, or overly rely on analytical tools when confronted with complex problems. Experience teaches us how to use system 1, and business schools train us in system 2 approaches. But there is no training for how to apply the Third System. Japanese business experts, Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi nominated this deficit in training as one of the foremost reasons for the global financial crisis. We have forgotten it seems, to train for wise leadership, and we need it now, more than ever.

Wisdom > Ethics

Ethics training for business leaders is a necessary but not sufficient prescription when it comes to preventing the kind of ongoing toxicity and corruption unearthed by the Hayne Royal Commission. But it's a system 2 approach to changing corporate behaviour, and so far it hasn't worked, at least not sustainably.

Of greater effect would be training in the Third System of thinking. This is more likely to lead to the type of decision making Aristotle referred to as phronesis, or practical wisdom - the ability to make prudent judgements and take actions based on the reality of the situation, guided by values and morals; to know what is the right thing to do for the right people at the right time. But can practical wisdom be trained?

Yes, it can!
  • Pioneer researchers in the field of wisdom psychology, Paul Baltes and Ursula Staudinger from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin developed the "Berlin Wisdom Paradigm" in the 1990s and conducted experiments in how to boost wisdom-related performance.
  • Howard Nusbaum, Director of the Center for Practical Wisdom at the University of Chicago and his colleagues have been researching ways in which wisdom can be developed in professional and public life since 2007.
  • Igor Grossmann, Director of the Wisdom and Research Lab at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada shows how the ability to think wisely varies dramatically from one situation to another, and he presents experimental evidence for ways to buffer thinking against bias.
  • And at the Stein Institute for Research on Ageing at the University of California San Diego, Director Dilip Jeste and his team outline 6 components of wisdom, all of which can be developed over time.
Building on these and other discoveries, my own research and practice in the field of wisdom psychology suggests that system 3 thinking is made up of 9 capabilities which can be developed in much the same way that emotional competencies can be enhanced through training and coaching.

Developing the Third System

The 9 capabilities of the Third System are:

1. Social Advising
Experience is a necessary but not sufficient condition for wise thinking. Martin Seligman launched the field of positive psychology, demonstrating ways in which we can curate our memories and appreciate the course of our own life as a useful guide to what it means to live a flourishing life. By recognising the normal trajectory of human development through our own and others' biographies we may come to be relied on for giving advice about life problems.

2. Decisiveness
Paradoxically, an important capability of the Third System is acknowledging uncertainty and ambiguity, yet making quick and effective decisions; not suffering "paralysis by analysis". Under complex conditions decision making is actually a series of experiments in which we learn something new. We should not be fearful of making mistakes but rather accept the entrepreneurial "fail forward" principle. This is also the process of enacting and prototyping advocated by Otto Scharmer in his Theory U.

3. Emotion Regulation
Daniel Goleman popularised the notion of emotional intelligence in the 1990s. It turns out one of the most critical capabilities of the Third System is to recognise your feelings, yet not be overwhelmed by them. Control over emotions is not the same as the absence of emotions but rather having control over the intensity and variation in them, which yields a kind of contentedness.

4. Pro-Social Behaviours
System 3 thinking emphasises understanding how others are feeling, imagining what it must be like for them, and being prepared to take action through a strongly held sense of fairness. Robert Sapolsky from Stanford University School of Medicine leads other Evolutionary Biologists in observing that cooperative prosocial behaviours are more favoured in primate and human groups than competition and violence.

5. Tolerance for Divergent Values
Chris Petersen and Martin Seligman founded the Values In Action Institute after identifying 24 character strengths and virtues we all possess to a greater or lesser degree. Acceptance of diversity allows for our own unique signature strengths, but also opens us up to understand why someone else might rely on different strengths. The key to system 3 thinking appears to be having strong values "weakly held" which means we are more prepared to change our mind if new information presents itself.

6. Self-Transcendence
"Man's Search for Meaning" is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experience in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then imagining that outcome. Finding meaning in the midst of disruption and volatility is about moving beyond the physical and the ego, and knowing the inner spirit essence of life, it is about seeing the world from a universal perspective. Self-transcendence is a spiritual concept that looks at the true meaning of life and the infinite consciousness.

7. Insight
Insight is the capability to see into a situation, to apprehend the inner nature of things. It includes self-reflection, which is the ability to acquire an authentic and meaningful perception of a thing or an individual, including yourself. Leadership experts, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman present empirical evidence for why it is important to know yourself in order to make accurate assessments of your impact on others and to make better quality decisions.

8. Mindfulness
In their 2018 book, "The Mind of a Leader", authors Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter  highlight the debilitating effects of distraction on decision making effectiveness. Mindfulness is the skill of applying sustained, focused attention to meaningful tasks and activities, balancing mental activity with mental control. Cultivating the ability to find mental stillness in the midst of noise can enhance productivity and creativity.

9. Compassion
According to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, compassion is the key to happiness. Compassion is the feeling that arises when we are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. While empathy refers to our ability to feel the emotions of another, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.

Taken together, these 9 capabilities represent an altogether different way of thinking and being when faced with complex issues and wicked problems. We still need systems 1 and 2 for simple and complicated problems, but as we face technological breakthroughs and digital disruptions with unintended consequences for ourselves and for the planet, we are going to have to get proficient at fully utilising the Third System.

WISE Up

Through training and coaching I have found it is possible to improve the capability of individuals to successfully apply the Third System of thinking when faced with a dilemma. Although life is uncertain and there are no guarantees that any given decision will work out for the best, accepting that condition is in itself a hallmark of the system 3 thinker.

Part of the Wise Decision Making training program involves practicing a template for protecting against bias and encouraging a slower, more considerate approach to both understanding and potentially solving complex issues:

  • Widen your view: Avoid either/or dualities in framing the issue, expand your options.
  • Interrogate reality: Find ways of disconfirming your assumptions, check your sources of information.
  • Sense what is emerging: Go deeper than immediate emotional reactions, patiently observe the possibilities emerging in the short and long term.
  • Enact a way forward: Experiment and prototype possible solutions, take action and learn from each result.

As we have seen this week from the Hayne Royal Commission report, business, community, and political leaders will need to become more sensitive to the total societal impact of their actions. It's no longer enough to justify decisions based on stakeholder sentiment. From now on, business decision makers need to make sure they deliver social as well as economic value. And to do that they will need to become practiced in the Third System of thinking.

Contact me here to book a Wise Decision Making training program for you and your team.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Managers Behaving Badly!



Managers are supposed to get stuff done. They're supposed to coordinate resources, build capable teams, and deliver shareholder value. We all work for a manager in one form or another. And while work isn't the sole domain of life, having a sense of meaning and making an impact are reasons #4 and #5 for coming to work. We want to be fairly rewarded for doing good work. And for that, we need good managers.

So how many good managers have you worked for in your career? Probably not that many. In fact, you'll be lucky if you can nominate more than two. And like most of us, you've probably left more than one position due to a toxic boss. What is the cost of managers behaving badly? And what, if anything, can be done about it?


Cost of Bad Managers

What's the cost of bad managers?
Of course, it's naïve to claim these costs are solely due to bad managers. Bad organizational culture, structure and systems contribute their fair share. And industry and market conditions add to these costs. But if there's any responsibility or liability, it invariably gets sheeted home to the managers involved. The 2018 Australian Banking Royal Commission is a case in point. The Commonwealth Bank has been forced to defend itself in court over allegations it systematically breached anti-money-laundering and terrorism-financing laws on nearly 54,000 occasions and could potentially face about $1 trillion worth of fines. These are the actions of managers behaving badly.

Mindless Managers

Managers behave badly when they don't stop to think about their actions or how their behavior might be  negatively impacting their team. They "drive for performance" (a curious term that suggests employees are more akin to vehicles). When managers lose focus on what really matters, and when their situational awareness becomes too narrow they behave mindlessly. They "go with the flow" even if that flow is unethical. They choose the path of least resistance even if that means riding roughshod over team members. Mindless managers behave badly because they are self-centered; they are preoccupied with their own agendas, and unable or unwilling to consider how their actions might affect others. Self-centredness arises because of (1) insecurity: they lack confidence and react emotionally to real or perceived threats; and (2) arrogance: They are overconfident and see people as objects to be used for their own purposes.

Mindful Managers

Managers behave better when they develop focused attention on what really matters, and when they become aware of how others are behaving and feeling. The key is how well managers manage distraction. A recent survey of more than 30,000 managers from thousands of companies in more than a hundred countries found that 71% of managers feel distracted from their current task either "some" or "most" of the time. Sources of distraction included:
  • Demands of other people (26%),

  • Competing priorities (23%),

  • General distractions (13%), and 

  • Workloads that are overwhelming (12%).
Overcoming distraction isn't the only thing that good managers do of course. But the ability to understand and manage attention keeps managers from behaving badly. How?

Mindful awareness helps managers to get in the driver's seat of their own mind and see more clearly what is the "right" thing to do for the benefit of all stakeholders. Mindful focus helps managers to be more efficient and consequently achieve better wellbeing.

But it takes training. We are hard-wired for distraction. Focus occurs in the prefrontal cortex, which is the centre of deliberation, reasoning, and choice. Through training and practice it is possible to develop the skill of sustained, focused attention on a chosen task or object. Through training and practice it is also possible to gain self-awareness and develop a more considerate and compassionate approach to others, realizing what is most likely the best choice for all concerned.


To stop managers behaving badly we need to include the skills of mindfulness in any management or leadership training curriculum. The linear MBA-trained logic is necessary but no longer sufficient if it comes at the cost of other skills like self-awareness. The cost of managers behaving badly is just too great to put up with anymore.

Monday, March 26, 2018

You Want Performance? Here's How!

The performance dilemma
“Our latest staff engagement results were really quite bad” admitted the HR Director of a mid-sized Asian Financial Services company when I met with her recently. “Staff are really disappointed with their managers”, she shared with me. “Yet, many of those same managers have been sent on very expensive leadership programs in Europe and North America”, she declared. “And now I don’t have enough budget left to get performance up!”
Of course, there is great prestige in sending managers away to a castle in Europe or to an Ivy League campus in the USA for a week. But what’s the return on investment? Could that same budget have been spent more effectively?

In the “open source era” HR Directors are finding themselves backed into a corner. Their companies are demanding higher performance targets despite sluggish economic growth almost everywhere. And the workforce of the future – the millennials – are questioning whether they even want to be part of a company structure when they can more easily launch their own start-ups. This makes talent retention a key issue for HR Directors. Companies want the performance dividend that comes with talented people, but they are reluctant to invest too much in case they leave.

How do you get performance up when the budget is down?

Coaching!

But coaching is too expensive you say. And anyway, does it even work?

The need for speed
It turns out the open source era is a key driver of the rapid rise of coaching engagements globally. Digital disruption, AI, blockchain, and the shift to platform-based business models are some of the factors contributing to heightened uncertainty and demand for an agile and innovative workforce. Coaching is increasingly seen as a flexible,individually-tailored business performance intervention and an accelerator of organisational learning – a crucial component for enterprises to thrive.

Older generations who currently occupy senior leadership positions want different things from work than younger generations. Millennials value work where they can be acknowledged, find enjoyment and fun, have opportunities to give back to others, work in collaborative environments, and have a sense of stability.

Guess what, they want coaching!

In the US, 93% of US-based Global 100 companies use executive coaches. In the UK, 88% of organizations use coaching. In Australia, 64% of business leaders and 72% of senior managers report using coaches. Seventy-one percent of these Australian respondents also stated that having a coach was an important factor in their decision to stay with their organisations.

Coaching has moved away from being remedial. In the past if you were told you needed coaching you assumed there was a problem. Now coaching is viewed as an important constituent of the company’s overall human capital development strategy.

So, what is coaching?
It is a one-to-one learning and development intervention that uses a collaborative, reflective, goal-focused relationship to achieve professional and personal outcomes valued by the person being coached. Coaching – when done well – can inspire and empower people, build commitment, increase performance and productivity, grow talent, promote success, and build high performing teams. It is, quite simply, a way of facilitating positive change faster than it might happen on its own.

In the open source era people are willing to fail fast to learn quickly. The need for speed in learning means people are more willing to seek the help of coaches to understand themselves and to grow and develop rapidly in their working environment. Being allocated a coach is now associated with being singled out as someone of worth to the company.

By estimates of product growth cycle coaching has not yet entered the maturity phase in any market. Coaching will continue to grow in North America, Europe, UK, and Australia. But it is set for rapid growth in Asia, particularly China.

Yes, but does it work?

Accelerating Performance
People who have experienced coaching overwhelmingly report that they were satisfied and would recommend it to others. Various assessments of return on investment (ROI) report the return to be at least equal to the investment, and by some estimates up to seven times the cost of coaching.

Even though coaching is a highly individualized human change methodology there is a consistent body of research that supports the positive effects of coaching as an approach to employee learning and development in organisations, and leadership effectiveness. According to a 2015 review of the research, coaching is the only organisation consultancy intervention known to have proven efficacy!

In a 2016 study of one-to-one executive coaching (conducted by a panel of 11 professional coaches) for 49 program managers and directors of an Australian state government health agency over 6 sessions each, the following outcomes were noted:
  • Anxiety: 41.21% reduction
  • Goal attainment: 37.26% increase
  • Stress reduction: 28.34% reduction
  • Leadership self-efficacy: 27.04% increase
  • Tolerance of ambiguity: 13.89% increase
  • Self-insight: 10.59% increase
  • Solution-focused thinking: 8.86% increase
  • Perspective taking capacity: 5.30% increase
  • Resilience: 4.49% increase

Coaching works!
But it’s expensive isn’t it? Well not when you compare it to the cost of training and the inevitable drop off in retention. Coaching following training is significantly more effective than training alone, and gains from coaching have been sustained even 18 months after the end of coaching.

Coaching delivers more bang for the training budget buck, particularly in the areas of self-management, leadership effectiveness, and preparing for succession. Coaching is an individually tailored learning agenda that helps to fast-track development.

And it rubs off on others! Managers who receive coaching are more likely to use coaching approaches with their team members and generate higher performing teams. And higher performing teams are the nucleus for organisational growth and productivity.

Investing in coaching has a multiplier effect. Not only does it contribute to more effective individual leadership, but it also promotes better communication both within business units and across boundaries. And as the quality of conversations change the culture changes.

If you want to improve the performance of your organisation and the engagement of your employees, and if you must do it quickly, then professional coaching is the answer!

For more information, contact the author at: peterw@iclif.org 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Six Principles for the Disconnected Leader!


In 2016 McKinsey & Company conducted a study of more than 52,000 managers, 86% rated themselves as inspiring and good role models. In the same year, a Gallup engagement survey found that 82% of their employees see their leaders as fundamentally uninspiring.

What's wrong with this picture?

There is a stark disconnect between how leaders see themselves and how others see them. You could put this down to attribution bias - we attribute only good explanations for our own behavior. But the disconnect is bigger than that. When it affects tens of thousands of managers across thousands of companies it becomes systemic. And it results in the following dysfunctions:
  • Mangers don't listen to feedback and so they don't change their behavior.
  • Employees feel trapped with managers who are not leading or guiding them.
  • Managers don't accept contrary views or ideas which disrupt their view of themselves.
  • Employees don't speak up for fear of being shut down.
  • Creativity and innovation suffer.
  • Organisational culture becomes rule-bound at best, and toxic at worst.
To close the gap between self-perception and others' perceptions, leaders will need to embrace these six principles:

1. Practice mindfulness

While much has been written about the benefits of mindfulness training, at the very least it can help better focus energy and develop resilience. Paradoxically, mindfulness training can lead to a deeper and more accurate level of self-awareness, and a detachment from external determinants of self-identity. Leaders who practice mindfulness report feeling more in tune with their inner world and more aware of others. They also feel released from the need to please others as a measure of their performance. Instead they make better judgements based on their own values and purpose.

2. Practice Kindness and Compassion

Kindness is one of the simplest acts of support we can show others, but corporate life breeds it out of us. We are told self-criticism is what keeps us accountable and improves our performance. We become our own harshest critics and then take out our frustrations on others. But studies over the past decade show the multiple benefits from being kind to oneself include resilience after failure, lower levels of depression and anxiety, and a better overall quality of life.

Compassion is allowing yourself to be moved by someone else's suffering and experiencing the motivation to do something to alleviate it. Compassion is also about understanding people at an emotional level, and genuinely caring abut their well-being. In fact, it's hard to think of a way in which compassion is not relevant to leadership, success and well-being. Leaders with high empathy and compassion, who can connect with others succeed, and their bottom line is better.


3. Practice Tolerance for Divergent Values

Acceptance of diversity of views means you may have strong feelings about something, but also understand why someone else might have different feelings about it. It doesn’t mean that you give up on your values, but you can also understand why someone else may feel or think differently. Leaders who readily acknowledge diversity of views, ideas, beliefs, and values are more prepared to change their mind if new information presents itself. And they are better placed to foster creativity and innovation in their organisations.


4. Practice Emotion Regulation

Control over your emotions is not absence of emotions, but having control over the magnitude and the variation of them. All too often we see leaders who "go ballistic", thump the table, scream, shout, or cry. These are not the hallmarks of a fully self-aware, people-centred leader. Emotion regulation is about reducing the severity of both depression and excitement. At the same time, it’s somewhat on the positive side and associated with well-being and happiness.


5. Practice Intellectual Humility

You cannot be right all the time. There are limits to your own knowledge, and the current era of open source and digital disruption presents a high degree of ambiguity and uncertainty. Self-awareness comes through being humble about oneself and acknowledging that no outcome can be certain. Leaders must assess the information available but not spend a lot of time thinking abut the pros and cons of everything. At some point a decision has to be made.


6. Foster Psychological Safety

Speaking up at work can be difficult. People worry that their boss or colleagues will criticize them. As a result, people hold back on everything from good ideas to great questions. But by fostering psychological safety, leaders can encourage a free flow of ideas and robust debate. The key tenants of psychological safety are:


  • Civility - Attending to what others contribute and responding with consideration.
  • Fight fair - Debating contrasting ideas or other's viewpoints yet respectfully disagreeing.
  • Be Supportive - Using supportive language and not resorting to sarcasm or put-downs.

Practicing these six principles will help the disconnected leader to close the self-other perception gap, and lead a more innovative organization into the Fourth Industrial Revolution!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How to avoid the corporate hall of mirrors!

Why do we ask interview questions that push for evidence of personal accomplishment?

If the candidate answers in terms of "we", "us" and "our", we are inclined to dismiss them as weak and unassertive and not leadership material.

And we wonder why we end up in a corporate hall of mirrors reflecting only the most self-serving and narcissistic of leadership behaviours.

Work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution doesn't work like that, not anymore. In complex, dynamic environments identifying how you single-handedly powered the project or won the day or brought the innovation to market is impossible. The best you can say is "here is how I contributed. Sometimes I inspired and encouraged those around me, and sometimes less so".

Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba famously failed his way to success. Interviewers were not impressed with his individual accomplishments. He could not demonstrate any of the behavioural evidence they were looking for, so he failed to be accepted by KFC, by the Police, by Harvard University. He could only say, "I have an idea, and I think if we work together we could achieve something great. Sometimes I've failed, and sometimes we collectively have made it happen". Not great interview material. Yet today he has an  estimated net worth of $47.5 billion.

After University, Tim Westergren could only find a job as a nanny. For 5 years he would get up and practice piano for 6 hours, and then babysit the children in the afternoon. He joined a band, and spent 5 years touring and living out of a van, but his own band never found success. In 1999, still a struggling musician at the age of 34, he had an incredible business idea. He thought it could change the music industry.

With the little money he raised from investors, he hired 50 musicians to listen to hundreds of thousands of songs. Two weeks later, the stock market crashed making his company a very bad idea to other investors. He maxed out 11 credit cards for $150,000 of debt, just to make sure they got some pay. He had to ask his employees to defer all their salary and work for free after he had deferred his own salary long before he asked anyone else to. He finally secured venture capital investment in 2003. It was his 348th pitch to raise money. And at the next company meeting, he pulled out a stack of envelopes. Each one contained 2.5 years of back salary for his employees, totaling $1.5 million. 

The idea? Pandora Internet Radio. His company went public in 2011 and reported $138 million in revenue that year. By 2013, Pandora accounted for 70% of all Internet radio listening in the United States. By 2016, Pandora had 100 million monthly users.

If we only select for the behaviours of individual success, we miss the far bigger opportunity of hiring people for their ideas and for their potential to make a difference in the world. Most ideas are crazy because they are not part of the existing intellectual structure.

We should instead be searching for characteristics such as values and purpose and persistence. We should be seeking to determine how many times the candidate has failed, not how many trophies they have won. We should be asking what they learned about themselves and others from their failures, and how many times they picked themselves up.

Most importantly, we should be asking, "what can we do to harness that personal energy towards the creation of a better future. What enterprise platform can we offer to help bring this about?"

The problem is that we typically ask candidates "what can you do for us and how can you fit in here?" The "right" answers to those questions yield a hall of mirrors that only reflects what has worked in the past. In the open source era that is a recipe for disaster.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

6 Steps to Managing Wisely!

By  now you should know how to manage well, given that around US$140 billion is spent each year on management education. But how do you manage wisely, and what does that even mean? 

To manage wisely is to know what is the right thing to do at the right time for the greatest common good (and we could sure use more of that!).

Here are 6 steps to help you manage wisely:

1. Ask a Wise Mentor
When you don't know what to do, go to someone you regard as wise in your industry or profession - a wise mentor - and ask them what choice they would make.

2. Practice Emotional Regulation
Gaining control over the intensity and volatility of your own emotions is a key to wellbeing, and ultimately wisdom. Don't let your emotional hot buttons get pushed by anyone. Practice stable emotions under all circumstances, and cultivate positive emotions over negative ones.

3. Practice Compassion
Compassion is the conscious awareness of others' distress and the motivation to do something for them. There are other things you can do for others rather than for yourself such as empathy, altruism, generosity, kindness. Practicing these 'prosocial behaviours' helps you become a better and a wiser leader.

4. Practice Insight
The greatest capability of a leader is self-reflection - the ability to analyse an understand yourself. It's  naturally much easier to understand somebody else. But learning to manage wisely requires seeing your own strengths and weaknesses, and striving to gain insight.

5. Accept Uncertainty
Just because you hold strong feelings about something doesn't mean it's the right decision. Acceptance of uncertainty means not being 100% certain of anything working out the way you want it to, and being prepared to change your mind if new information comes along. It also means understanding why someone else might have different feelings about a particular decision. It doesn't mean giving up on your values, but you can also understand why someone else may hold different thoughts and feelings.

6. Make Decisions
In the end you have to make a decision. You can't sit on the fence. It's important to deliberate over a decision but not be paralysed by uncertainty. Managing wisely is more than just thinking through the pros and cons. You also have to be decisive. You may be criticized for your decision with hindsight, but there are times when you must act.

And these are the six steps to managing wisely. How many of these steps are you practicing today?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How to Practice Leadership Energy Coaching!

Wham! Bam! Thank you Mam! Here comes a new kind of executive coach - the leadership ENERGY coach! Just in time for the new leaders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Based on a new model of how to generate, mobilize and recharge energy for leaders and how to achieve breakthrough results at the team and enterprise level, leadership energy coaching is primed to be the next generation step in the evolution of executive coaching.

The essence of leadership is energy: the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy of the leader to persist with his/her mission, vision, and purpose over time. It can be seen in leaders who are driven to achieve something meaningful beyond their own personal goals, often at great cost. Leaders such as Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Muhammad Yunis, Howard Schultz, and Malala Yousafzai are exemplars of leadership energy. What ignited their energy? Their individual stories reveal a common patter. Something in their early experience so compromised their most deeply held beliefs and values that they decided to do something about it, to make a difference, to create a better future. In a nuclear energy sense, they were 'fissionable'.

Leadership Energy Coaching is the practice of helping leaders to realize, and persistently act on, their core values and highest purpose for the creation of a better future.Leadership energy is not simply a collection of items a leader should do. It parallels the three Laws of Energy:
  1. All humans possess energy. Everyone has the potential to do work.
  2. The released leadership energy may or may not create useful output. How the energy is released and channeled depends on the purpose and values of the individual.
  3. Leadership energy needs to be restored.
This suggests a new model of executive coaching which follows four phases of energy transformation in a continuous energy loop. Executive coaching might start at any point on the loop, but in order to generate leadership energy the leader (and coach) must follow the forward motion of the loop:

Phase 1: Priming
Before energy can be utilized, a potential must be charged. It is the building up of personal energy that allows one to overcome the activation barrier. Recognizing what needs to change, what is seeking to emerge, and what is impeding progress towards some meaningful goal.
Phase 2: Release and Reroute
Channeling energy towards useful work, feeling the flow. Being clear about purpose and the desired better future.
Phase 3: Result
Evaluating outcomes, recognizing what worked what didn’t work, and what needs to be implemented.
Phase 4: Recharge
Reflections and insights on what has meaning. Preparing, repairing and replenishing ready to build up energy again.

Leadership energy coaching may be distinguishable from executive coaching in four ways:
  • It is based on a definition of leadership as 'the act of harnessing human energy towards the creation of a better future', rather than personal development models.
  • It integrates both personal and organizational development, while aligning business and leadership strategies.
  • It is focused on helping individuals develop self-sustaining, long-lasting leadership energy through proven tools and techniques.
  • It is not overly goal-focused or learning-driven, but rather fosters leadership energy at the individual, team, and organizational level.
The first Leadership Energy Coaching Certification program kicks off in Asia in July 2017. There are limited places available if you want to be at the forefront of executive coaching training and practice! Get more information here.