Organisational change and the art of crocodile management, Part Three

Let’s unpack that crocodile-soothing intervention of President Roosevelt that I described last time and relate it back to organisational change. Roosevelt, of course, had no knowledge of the powerful role of the amygdala in human fear responses. However, as a polio survivor, he did know a great deal about fear and how to overcome it. […]

Egos and collaboration: Building Effective Teams, Part Three

Last time, we concluded with the core finding from the Haas Business School study: power can be beneficial for individual performances but can sabotage team performances. That’s quite a paradox for leaders, who want their teams to be as effective as possible as collective entities but not at the expense of undermining the individual creativity […]

Slow down; you have nothing to lose but your stress

Late last year, a survey from global executive recruitment firm Odgers-Berndtson brought into public focus the disturbingly relentless and intense levels of stress to which C-suite managers working for FTSE 350 companies were routinely subjected. Tellingly, the report was titled Lonely at the Top, and sadly, for those of us involved in executive coaching, it […]

Good questions create better worlds: Appreciative Inquiry (Part 1)

People often ask good questions; but that they ask questions is rather less important than how they ask them. Case Western Reserve University Professor David Cooperrider puts what is at stake when asking a question rather deftly: “We live in the world our questions create.” Cooperrider is a pioneer of ‘appreciative inquiry’, which holds that good questions are […]

Essentials of effective business coaching (Part 2)

MIT professor Edgar Schein suggests the open inquiry approach I concluded with last time is one of three modes of inquiry; he calls it ‘pure inquiry’). We move on from pure inquiry to what Schein calls ‘diagnostic inquiry’ – focusing in closely on specific elements of the coachee’s story. This should not be confused with […]

Essentials of effective business coaching (Part 1)

An orthodoxy has started to ossify around the concept of effective business coaching: it is all about helping small business owners streamline and optimise their strategies for business expansion. That is true as far as it goes; however, I think it leaves a lot out. Business coaching, from a Gestalt point of view, involves working […]

Characteristics of positive workplaces

Research by business leadership expert Kim Cameron and psychologist Emma Seppälä identifies six essential characteristics of positive workplaces. Such workplaces: Eschew blame and rapidly forgive mistakes. Care for, remain interested in and sustain responsibility for colleagues as friends. Provide mutual support, including compassion and kindness when others are struggling. Emphasise the meaningfulness of the work. […]

Curing functional fixedness (Part Two)

Karl Duncker’s experiment demonstrating Functional Fixedness, which I described last time, has a good deal of relevance for any company trying to develop a breakthrough product. Most of the time, a talented group of people fail to make headway not because of a lack of intelligence or imagination but because their talents are confined by […]

Curing functional fixedness (Part One)

Curing functional fixedness (or, how to turn a desk into a magic castle). Small children are extraordinary inventive in using everyday objects to augment their imaginative play. A large box becomes a space capsule; a table, a blanket and a couple of chairs become an enchanted castle. “Growing up” tends to bury this ability, making […]

Leadership and the art of not knowing (Part Two)

Here’s the core predicament that those in leadership find themselves in: virtually all organisations prize competence and expertise; however, in a mind-bogglingly complex world, no one individual can possibly have all the answers. A study by business consulting and coaching experts Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner found that virtually all the leaders they spoke to struggled […]