Organisational change and the art of crocodile management, Part Two

When organisations are developing an order of change designed to achieve a whole new level of performance, you can be sure of one thing: it will rouse from slumber the “inner crocodiles” of the staff who have to implement it. This happens courtesy of a small but powerful brain structure called the amygdala. Amygdalas are […]

How to prevent conversational meltdowns: Part two

In the first part of this series, I described the cooling effects on an overheating conversation of taking responsibility for one’s role in verbal escalations. Here are some other powerful methods of preventing conversational fires to add to your repertoire. Social scientist Joseph Grenny perceptively notes that people lose control when they feel threatened. If […]

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 […]

The toxic effects of high-pressure cultures (Part One)

Surviving in competitive markets is a question of building high-pressure cultures focussed on bottom line results. Encouraging people to be cut throat and take-no-prisoners to ensure financial success. Right? As you might expect from the way I phrased it, this is wrong and there is a lot of evidence to demonstrate that cultures like this damage employees and […]

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 […]

Building trust in organisations

Engagement strategies remain important for improving profitability; but engagement without building trust is an empty shell. High profile public scandals over the last few years – phone hacking by journalists, reckless actions by banks and misbehaviour by individual politicians and media stars – have combined to dent public perceptions of trustworthiness in these institutions and […]

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 […]

Why difference ranks with diversity in organisations

Diversity in organisations needs to include intra-personal difference and a tolerance for constructive conflict. If an organisation’s future depends on its leadership pipeline and its staff’s talents, the right lenses for spotting potential really have to be in place. Last time, I suggested that diversity in organisations that didn’t force people to become clones of corporate identity […]

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 […]

Management, uncertainty and complexity (Part One)

In the 1990s, when academics and business leaders first began discussing the idea of applying complexity science to organisations and businesses, their enthusiasm failed to be picked up by the majority of managers. Managers were resistant to seeing the world as it really was (i.e. infinitely complex), preferring instead to wish this issue away in order […]