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Leadership or Leadersheep - Rapport Article


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Leadership or Leadersheep - Rapport Article

  1. 1. Pat Hutchinson BUSINESS it stands to reason that strict rules-based organisations will attract people with a propensity towards procedures. People with a tendency towards options and a desire to express their creativity are unlikely to thrive in such an environment and will probably leave for pastures new. Similarly, organisations offering safe and secure employment packages will attract people with ‘away from’ patterns. Future focused people may not thrive in this environment and will also move on. So, as a culture becomes engrained so do the unwritten rules that people follow. In our experience promotion to management and leadership positions is often the result of exceptional performance in a specialist role. Keen ambitious accountants, IT professionals, HR specialists, sales executives, marketing professionals all excel in their specialisms and gain promotion to management/leadership R ecent history is riddled with examples of sheepish leadership. Dare I mention sub-prime markets, mortgages and the banks again? How about the dot com fiasco where sheep- like investors rushed to invest in anything prefixed with an ‘e-’ or ending in ‘.com’? Fear of loss, greed – whatever the cause, human behaviour can change, and guidelines and unwritten rules abandoned in the sheep-like stampede. Come closer to home for a moment. What do we expect of our industry leaders? What about the standard of leadership in all those household names with which we are so familiar? What about the standard of leadership in your place of work? All organisations develop cultures with some written and mostly unwritten ‘rules’. Where do these rules come from in the first place? Meta-programs can play a large part in the development of the culture. For example, roles. But what to do next? Where do the new management/leadership behaviours come from? The first port of call is invariably senior leaders in the organisation. They represent role models and it’s all too easy to copy them but where did they get their behaviours from? Their seniors and theirs and theirs – the system is reminiscent of Tom Brown’s school days where the older pupils taught the younger ones. Here are some examples of sheep- like behaviour that we see in some organisations. The organisation expects it I have heard this many times from people What do we expect of our industry leaders? By Pat Hutchinson Leadership or Leadersheep? 16 ] Winter 2012/2013 - RAPPORT
  2. 2. BUSINESS in varying scenarios – attending regular meetings, conference calls, standard formats for proposals, stifling sales processes, dress code, over-compliance with health and safety rules, directors’ privileges. When meta-modelled on who has made these rules and how they are enforced people can rarely come up with an answer. It’s the result of sheepish behaviour that nobody has ever challenged. As an example, Ben told us he never came up for air because there were so many conference calls he had to attend on a daily basis. Paul commented of the same conference calls ‘yes, I never take part in those – most are a waste of time.’ They expect us to produce a PowerPoint presentation This is a regular plea of people on our presentation skills programmes which when challenged offers little or no foundation. It is often followed with another belief of ‘the customer will think I’m not prepared if I don’t use a PowerPoint presentation’ or ‘I can’t possibly remember everything without it’. The word presentation has long been synonymous with PowerPoint thanks to excellent marketing by Bill Gates. Yes, of course, it has a place if used correctly for portraying images but not many people have cottoned on to the reality that death by PowerPoint is caused by trying to engage the auditory channel twice – words and numbers on the PowerPoint whilst the presenter continues to speak. It’s like trying to read the breaking news scrolling across the TV screen whilst the newscaster is speaking. The mind can only do one or the other. Take into account that decision- making is usually the result of a feeling which has been suspended as the mind struggles to contend with the auditory overload and it is no wonder that people leave presentations without making a decision. How many presentations are taking place across the country right now which will result in no action being taken because of this one piece of sheepish behaviour? How much time, money and effort could be saved if people were simply more aware and took the trouble to learn the skills? We have a huge value around communication It’s always encouraging to hear an organisation express communication as high on their list of values. Some have taken a lot of time and effort to establish their values and proudly display them on walls and large boards throughout the organisation as well as on their websites. Unfortunately they often stop there and fail to translate the values into behaviours. What does communication actually mean? Communicating with who? How would it look inside and outside of the All organisations develop cultures with some written and mostly unwritten ‘rules’ organisation? Communicating in what way? What would you expect to see people doing if they are communicating effectively? What are the expected results of effective communication and how are they measured? Is the measurement appropriate? For example, retail organisation X is keen to communicate with its staff and regularly sends directives from head office to its many branches. They measure the success of their communication on the percentage of ‘ticks’ they receive indicating that the directive has been completed. The branches know this – no one appears to check that the directive has actually been completed. PowerPoint is often used to ‘cascade’ messages throughout an organisation. In the interests of continuity a presentation is put together using PowerPoint slides and ‘cascaded’ throughout the organisation with each presenter expected to deliver in the exactly the same way. Unfortunately, by the time it reaches the end of the line it can often lose its meaning and becomes a ‘must do’ for someone who hasn’t had any input into the compilation of the presentation. Down the line presenters are often riddled with beliefs that they are not allowed to alter the presentation and have to give it exactly as it is. We always meet on a Monday morning ‘If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you always had.’ We are all familiar with this presupposition of NLP and yet regular, information dumping meetings continue to prevail in workplaces across the globe. Meetings without clear outcomes are destined to failure. If they become simply a vehicle for reporting they become tedious and repetitive and serve no real purpose. For example, the senior board of an international pharmaceutical company had always met on a Monday morning. Meetings often took all day and frequently there were few or no action points. People had learnt to bring along their laptops and telephones to keep themselves busy while they waited for their turn to present. In many ways the popularity of such phenomena as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is the result of sheepish behaviour. Twitter actively encourages it with its ‘trending’ subjects. Of course, much of this behaviour is positive and people report positive results in marketing and communication with customers and connections with like-minded people. Meta-programs come into play again here with early adopters (difference pattern) taking on board new things just because they are new and different – not because they have any clear purpose. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. So what makes great leadership? Challenging the status quo focusing on achieving positive outcomes that reflect the purpose of the organisation. If you want to be a leader, accepting the status quo is not an option. Expressions like ‘the business expects it’ without any concrete evidence should not be tripping off the tongue lightly. Effective leaders challenge ‘unfounded’ rules and processes which are not conducive to evolutionary business. Learning RAPPORT - Winter 2011/2012 [ 17
  3. 3. BUSINESS to pace and lead using NLP skills and particularly to use the meta model elegantly are key skills here. Cascading the skills to deliver messages as well as the message itself. They know that it takes skill to gain buy in for ideas and developments and learning this skill will save time, money and effort both in the short and long term. Training autonomous managers to be flexible in their communication and influencing skills and give them space to get on with the job. Work with what is important to people and make sure their values are met. For example, Debbie was headhunted because she had an exceptional record in sales. On arriving at her new company she was asked to follow strict rules for the amount of time she spent with each prospect – rules which Debbie perceived to restrict her skills and therefore her results. She is thinking of leaving the organisation. Having clear outcomes for everything they do including management meetings. Staying with the theme of presentations just for a moment – if you run a presentation through the alignment model and be honest about the results you will find differing answers. The true purpose of a presentation is to engage people to take action. The reality is very different – often it appears to be to dump information or for the presenter to get through to the end without forgetting anything, slipping up or making a fool of themselves. How we define our identity as a presenter varies too – an authentic presenter may see him/herself as a decision facilitator whereas someone else may see themselves as a vehicle for passing on information. An authentic presenter will value the audience and their ability to interpret, understand and take action. A poor presenter may not even be aware of the finer points relating to the profile of his audience. An authentic presenter will develop the skills to engage the audience – a non-authentic one will rely on sheepish behaviour. An authentic presenter will research his audience, design a presentation specifically for them, keeping it high level paying attention to pacing and leading using meta- programs, VAK processing, body language and voice tone to engage them. A poor presenter relies on technology to do the job for him/her. Learning to execute and let go of the detail. The higher up the organisation the less easy it is to keep hold of the detail. Leaders and managers who do, fall into the trap of micro-managing. Accepting that communication is a two way process not a tick box exercise. This is back to having a clear purpose or outcome for each piece of communication and them measuring it to see if this purpose is being achieved. Recognising and rewarding creativity ensuring that the environment encourages such behaviour. For example, Company B had a high value around creativity and actively encouraged people to bring ideas to the table. Unfortunately the table was in the boardroom in an unfamiliar environment to most people. Company B realising that ideas would be stifled by such an austere environment disbanded the boardroom in favour of a much more level playing field. Creativity increases were manifold. Ensuring that everyone is aligned with the values of the organisation and that they know what this means in terms of expected behaviours. Having the courage to walk away from deals/situations which don’t fit the company purpose irrespective of the size of the deal. Reputations in business are paramount and poor deals can seriously damage the brand. As an example, Company C walked away from a multimillion pound contract because it discovered the other party was reneging on their agreement. No amount of pleading was able to turn them back. The CEO of Company C was very protective of his reputation and was not prepared to be compromised. An excellent decision as it turned out. Being consistent in their approach so that they meet people’s expectations. State control and the behavioural flexibility that NLP offers are, of course, key here. Moments of truth about your style as a leader occur every day – we all have plenty of opportunities to decide whether to be a sheep or a leader. Happy leading! Human behaviour can change, and guidelines and unwritten rules abandoned in the sheep-like stampede Pat Hutchinson: NLP Trainer with Quadrant 1 International - 18 ] Winter 2012/2013 - RAPPORT