Mortal

It was Aunty Joy’s funeral last week. Uncle Ken’s a month or so back. A couple. Parents, grandparents, great grandparents, sister, cousin, Aunty, Uncle. And more, much more.

Their lives were so eloquently and movingly paid tribute to at their respective funerals by family. I struggle to add to it.

Two family members gone so close to each other. I said to Dad as we went in for Aunty Joy’s funeral service that it felt raw. We could still feel it from Uncle Ken’s service. Any sense we felt pales of course – from immediate family – who showed remarkable resilience and grace.

Young girl hiker on mountain trail
What is your next adventure?

If there’s any good to come it’s a strong reminder of living now, in the present and embracing every moment. Friends come and go, work is ever present and will never be complete, the things we have or want don’t really matter, and you need to live now with what you have. Start your next adventure.

And if you have even half the things said about you at your funeral service that were said about my Aunty and Uncle, you will have lived.

Stephen

 

Is that really the best you have?

Ryan Lochte has won 12 Olympic medals, making him the second highest US swimming medal-winner behind Michael Phelps. Lance Armstrong ‘won’ 7 consecutive Tour de France races although he was stripped of the awards after he was found to have cheated. Lochte is not a cheat and this blog is not about being a cheat or not.

Cyclist riding a bike to the sunset on the highway
It’s a great sport

As best as I can ascertain Lochte and others caused some damage to a bathroom in Rio. A security guard who was armed (and may have pulled his weapon) demanded that Lochte and his friends pay for the damage. Lochte fled and complained to the police that they had been robbed at gunpoint. When the actual facts surfaced, Lochte had left Rio.

He apologised to his teammates and said he was “hurt” that they were left in Rio to deal with the consequences. He says he “over-exaggerated” the situation and insists he didn’t lie.

I heard an interview of Armstrong on the radio the other day. If you listen to him talking about his doping, you quickly pick up that the man has not really come to terms with what he did. Armstrong struggles with acknowledging what he has done: “I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times,” he said. “I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that.”. That’s pretty clear but he also says that without his winning all the cycle races he wouldn’t have raised the profile of cycling to where it is now, nor raised all the millions for cancer sufferers.  True.

At our last Authentic Leadership module we talked about the goldfish bowl effect: leaders are magnified the higher up they go.

The weasel words and justification, abstract apologies to select groups or about things you’ve said, do not properly acknowledge the wrong. They are simply part of trying to minimise what you got caught doing.

If you’ve stuffed up, then acknowledge it and apologise. Leave it for others to find the good in what you did.

Stephen

 

Getting ready

On Monday we’ll continue an Authentic Leadership Programme for 18 leaders. There’s a good chance that many of the group coming back together will have been busy – especially busy because of the time out from work on the Programme – to have spent much time focussing on the development work ahead.

I’m feeling a bit like that too. I’ve turned my attention to make sure that the mechanics of the module will work, as you might expect, but getting my head in the right space has had to wait until now.

So will it work to front up on Monday morning good to go? Probably. The key is to be present in that moment, for that moment, during the two days.

Ready?

A bit like leadership. Being present is incredibly important. And we don’t always get the luxury of time to prepare for that moment. It just happens, and authentic leaders are able to adjust their focus and presence as required.

That’ll be all of us on Monday I hope.  Ready!

Stephen

Let’s make leadership great again!

I’ve been thinking a lot about large shifts. Times are changing. In politics, health of our planet, inequalities, global power shifts and terror events there seem to be large changes happening. Many of these changes won’t be apparent until after….. looking back it’s clear ….but looking forward it’s not clear where the landing is.

How do you feel? Anxious, excited or optimistic perhaps? Or a bit of all three. Some of it makes me anxious. The politics of division worry me. Find a grievance, identify the culprits by ethnicity say, and promise the fix.

In leadership development it used to be popular to “break you down” so you could be built back up again.  A great feeling on the day and even for a week or two afterwards. You could have branded it “Let’s make leadership development great again!” and in a less enlightened age you’d be onto a winner.

At least that nonsense didn’t have an entire nationality or ethnicity branded as the enemy. I wonder what the people who follow this idea think the fix will actually look like. It cannot look good. It’s a catastrophic failure of leadership. A psychopathic appears at the helm and some people either haven’t noticed or worse go along with it.

Man and the Universe

Authentic leadership is aspirational, building on strengths, working together in community to find solutions to the most intractable problems, recognising we are one small group of people in smallish planet in an otherwise unremarkable corner of a galaxy. There’s no one else looking out for us. It’s us. All alone. Only we can do what needs to be done.

More than ever authentic and courageous leaders are needed. Leaders who connect, give hope and guide us through the big changes we’ve entered into. Because they’re not in the future. They’re now.

Very few of us can be global leaders. But we all have a voice.

Be heard and make leadership great again, for good.

Stephen

Starting inside

We started another Authentic Leadership Programme this week. Eighteen senior managers with eighteen sets of unique strengths.

It was foggy during the day and quite difficult to see much into the forest. That brought our focus inside.

As we move forward throughout the rest of the Programme our managers will learn a lot more about their strengths and their unique authenticity.

Real leadership development comes from a deep understanding of self, including strengths (especially) and blindspots. It can be challenging work examining ourselves but it’s not only worth it, it’s essential for leadership development. As tempting as it can be, you can’t fake leadership development with make believe exercises to put you under momentary stress.  Examining and exploring inside yourself is real leadership development work. It can be hard work too, and things won’t necessarily be clear to begin with.

footpath in rain forest at Waitakere Ranges
The rainforest at Waitakere Ranges
With the right tools and time for deep reflection our managers have all they need to clear the fog for themselves in the coming months, and they’ve made a great start.

Later in the Programme we’ll spend some time out and about exploring the forest as our managers take their insights and learnings back to their organisation.

Stephen

PwC Authentic Leadership Programmes are run as modular programmes or in one block to suit client needs. Contact me here for more information. 

 

 

 

 

 

A student

In The Student and Mister Henri a grumpy old man Henri lets out a bedroom in his Paris home to a young student Constance, who has come to study in the city.

Henri is the most inhospitable host, full of scorn and cynicism for his family, and Constance. But Henri’s wisdom emerges as he reveals his life’s regrets. Not following goals, not embracing family.

Success is not immediate for Constance.  In fact she fails at her chosen subject. Ready to give it all up and return to the country, Henri digs deep and urges Constance to “do what you want when you’re young“.  You only live once he reminds Constance.

Thanks to Henri, Constance sets off on a new path following her passion, headed for success.

I had some professional success this week. Its an achievement I’ve worked for by following a path.  And I’m happy to be the student, learning the ropes again.

You might only have one life, but you can be a student many times.

Stephen

ps  My new start

Authentic or bust

Commentators in the US say that Hillary Clinton is as well qualified as any presidential candidate has ever been. A Senator, First Lady, Secretary of State with vast experience in international affairs. But like Donald Trump she has very high unpopularity ratings.

The comedian Jon Stewart puts it down to her lack of convictions – he says he doesn’t know what they are – in a nutshell, her lack of authenticity.

Knowledge, attention to detail, the ability to argue a position – all essential attributes for a leader. But followers also want to know your convictions, what you stand for and to see transparency. In other words they want to see the authentic you.

And in case you’re wondering, Jon Stewart didn’t have anything good to say about Donald Trump either – calls him a man baby!

Stephen