Enabling lies

Enabling lies

I drafted this blog a week ago after it bubbling for quite a while. I couldn’t quite get it right. I thought I had something to say that I felt was important but I couldn’t frame it quite right – maybe that’s another blog! So here goes.

I’ve been thinking a bit about lies lately. We hear cries of “fake news” nowadays, sometimes by politicians under pressure. In George Orwell’s 1984, the “truth” is re-written to reflect what the government wants its citizens to believe. And at a certain level, it seems they did.

At a much more granular level, for many of us, facing lies, or even telling lies, won’t usually be about momentous events. But in leadership, it can matter a lot.

But maybe there’s two people in that lie. The liar, and us, the enabler?

How often do we accept things said to or around us, that we know to be untrue, possibly then even advancing a conversation on the basis of the lies? Reasonably often in my observation.

iStock-479774396.jpgI’ve been on an invigorating three day course with PwC in Melbourne these last three days. It’s been a course about bringing the best of humanity, technology and business to life for our clients.  One of the speakers was Kirk Docker, the producer of an Australian television series “You can’t ask that”. He showed us a clip of interviewing a random man at a mall. The man started off joking about eating “past use by” chicken, then quickly talked about his traumatic upbringing which had lead him to a life on the streets.  “When did you lose your innocence” Kirk asked. “When I was about 8”, and was let down, said the interviewee. “What did the hard life as an 8-year-old teach you?” asked Kirk.

“That everyone lies. That’s what I learned. Everyone lies.”

A lie that is ignored runs the risk of being a platform for action or inaction. In leadership if you are authentic with a clear moral compass, it should be unacceptable to lie. It should also be unacceptable to let it pass.

Do you enable?

Stephen

 

 

10 years on

10 years on

Jas and I launched the Authentic Leadership Programme on 15 November 2009. It feels very cool to be back where we started with that “night before Christmas” feeling before the last day of the latest cohort, 10 years on, almost to the day.

There’s plenty that different – it’s modular, we focus more on our Ethical Compass and Legacy than we did at the start, some things have gone, plenty has been refreshed – but one thing has grown real legs this time around.

Authenticity. The deep level of engagement and self reflection has gone to another level this time. The participants have done so much good work on themselves over the months since we set off. At tonight’s dinner it was incredibly rewarding to us as facilitators to see the changes and growth in each and every one participant.

iStock-498310812.jpgI’ve always felt we have a great leadership programme. From today, I’m certain we have a great authentic leadership programme. Facilitating in leadership development is a mirror of our own leadership (well at least I hope so but others can judge!). We ask coaching questions, we role model, we’re attentive, we don’t micro-manage, we go where we need to go (called agile of course but I like the clarity of the many words version), we try new things out, but most importantly on this programme, we hold the space.

The activity on a programme tilts from time to time, participants question themselves and the content, stakeholders want more or different content, and new materials are asked for in a constant search for refinement. And much of that happens, but the magic of this Programme I reckon is holding a firm, but relaxed course throughout and not letting anything faze you.

So, in the morning, there’s a unique opportunity for the participants to interact with senior leaders to share their insights and engage in an authentic leadership conversation.  Managers and others will be watching on. The description of it all sounds tense and built up, like a show. Something that could faze you.

But it’s not, and shouldn’t be based on what we’ve seen so far.  What we saw on the Programme today was an extraordinary display of leadership up close and personal in the group. Everyone has been just like we all are with someone you trust – vulnerable and authentic.

Jas and I reflected this evening that our work is done for this group. They’re ready to look to the stars and fly. And we’re looking forward to seeing it on display tomorrow, together.

Afterwards, our leaders won’t be the participants on a programme any more.

And with great satisfaction, they won’t need to be.

Stephen

A golden era of Rugby

A golden era of Rugby

I try and tell myself that it’s important to enjoy the Rugby win or lose, which isn’t that difficult supporting the All Blacks, who win over 90% of their games,  or if you go back for the last 115 years or so, 78%.  Making it the most successful team anywhere, in any sport, league or country.

Well that feels better already! I woke up this morning wondering if it was a (bad) dream. No, it wasn’t.  I was suffering somewhere in the grief cycle. The grief cycle! Really? Shock-Anger-Resentment-Acceptance-Hope. Time to get a grip – it’s a game. Sports!

I love Rugby, especially the All Blacks. I’ve watched every game since 2008 which has been a stunning era in New Zealand Rugby. Even when they lose, they’ve sorted it out, taken the learnings and grown some more legs.

The trouble with a RWC playoff game, is that there’s no coming back. Well not for “four-more-years” (ouch). Hardly seems right, we get to change the government more frequently than that!

So what to do? Phone a friend, listen to some talk back (very briefly) to realise how really troubled some people are, find something that means something special to you other than Rugby – some selfish indulgence – maybe a new project, and if you’re stuck remind yourself that England would have to keep winning until long after you’ve gone to catch up!

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The last twelve years have been a golden era of Rugby for the All Blacks. It hasn’t ended, they won’t be #1 now on the official rankings or holder of the Webb Ellis Cup. But they’ll be back before you know it, thrilling us with entertaining and fast-paced rugby and a Haka that only us Kiwis get.  And mostly winning!

Stephen

p.s. Webb Ellis is the supposed inventor of the game of Rugby Union. He was an Anglican Clergyman. Little did he know he invented a new religion for New Zealand. He might be disappointed I sense.

Driving seemed more interesting

Driving seemed more interesting

Not long after I left school I went with Mum to the University of Canterbury to enrol in a BCom.  It was at the reasonably new Ilam campus. I had studied accounting and economics at school and thought that being an accountant might be a good idea, and Mum and Dad were keen too.

We enrolled. From memory the annual cost was $108 – that might not be the exact figure – but it’s in my mind for some reason. Maybe $115?  Anyway, it wasn’t much and the fee included the Student Union charge, and all papers.

Not long after that I got hold of a Police recruitment brochure. It was a colourful landscape booklet with photographs of driving fast, shooting, putting someone in a headlock and plenty of physical activity. It must have appealed more than the BCom because I applied and after interviews, tests and background checks no doubt, I was accepted into the Prince of Wales 25th Cadet Wing at the New Zealand Police College.

It was 11 months of training: marching, the law, giving evidence, typing, report writing, dealing with domestic disputes, handling death, basic crime scene work, physical training and lots more.  The Police had a real sense of belonging and I feel my time “in the job” served me well for what followed.

iStock-459908461.jpgBut it always bugged me a bit that I didn’t complete my BCom and the accountancy that would have followed. I commenced another BCom near the end of my time in the Police, and later, when it was reasonably obviously unnecessary for my career, I pursued other study, supported by the SFO.

Later, becoming a partner in what some say is an “accounting firm” where I am now brought new life to the memories. 

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So, earlier this month when I attained the professional certification to be an accountant it was far more rewarding than I had imagined.

While you’re still upright it’s never too late to live your dream.

Go for it!

Stephen

The Mule

The Mule

The Mule is a 2018 film directed, produced and starring the 88 year old Clint Eastwood. He plays an older man called Earl Stone, a horticulturist who specialises in Lily cultivars. I couldn’t help but think of my Dad, of similar age, healthy and energetic and life-long horticulturist.

But there, fortunately (!), the similarities end. Earl has a problematic relationship with his family – he’s focussed only on the Lilies and related events – and sacrifices family and family events for his passion.

Earl becomes, unwittingly a mule, running cocaine across country for a Mexican Drug cartel. Any more information and I’ll have to put a spoiler alert out, but it’s beautifully filmed, and very tense.

iStock-491697130.jpgHe’s a man without the filters of needing to prove anything which is why he’s such a successful mule.

In the end, the film is about family, time and paying attention to the relationships that matter to you. You can buy anything almost, but not time.

I wonder if the film is intended to be cathartic for Eastwood – he reportedly has eight children from several relationships – and one of his daughters plays his on-screen daughter.

A gripping, at times funny, film with a strong message and a typical Eastwood ending that isn’t feel good but kind of is.

Enjoy*.

Stephen

*Time with those that matter.

Relaxed new leadership

Relaxed new leadership

We started with twenty new leaders on the Authentic Leadership Programme a few days ago.

By the time the first lunchtime rolled around it felt like we had already made great progress. We’d learned some new insights about each other and the three teams put together had developed a charter for the work they will do together over the coming months.

In the afternoon we focussed on ourselves. We learned quite a bit about ourselves from the leadership tools used, including powerful 360 feedback.

Not all feedback is easy to receive, but all the leaders on our Programme received very positive comments as well as work ons. Most people focus on the work ons without paying too much attention to the good stuff.

iStock-947115926.jpgThe two days felt quite relaxed but you can never underestimate what’s going on when you put aside two days to start of journey of discovery. At the conclusion of the two days there were lots of commentson how special it is to have time out to reflect.

It’s very tempting to keep piling content into leadership development. The art is to have sufficient for stimulus, but leave plenty of time for reflection and self-work.

When it’s relaxed there’s a good chance you’ve got the balance about right.

Stephen

Back to Tintin for breakfast

Back to Tintin for breakfast

I caught up with a relative over brunch on Saturday. It was a meandering chat over porridge and coffee.

We talked about family, fashion, housing, Tintin and some reminiscing of times long past.

I’m not sure how we got onto Tintin, but we reminded ourselves that he was ageless – stayed the same over decades of stories – but the stories moved with the times.

There are lots of connections between the stories. Obvious ones that are one story in two books like Destination Moon followed by Explorers on the Moon. Others are not so direct: The Crab with the Golden Claws and The Blue Lotus, about drug runners.

Tintin is one of the first books I can remember. I borrowed them from the Christchurch Public Library, in the old brick building that once housed the Library on Cambridge Terrace near Hereford Street.

The stories are rich in meaning, thoroughly researched with events of the time depicted – fascist Europe in King Ottokar’s Sceptre – and beautifully drawn. I love the trains, cars, boats and outsize characters and never tire of reading the 62 pages in each story one more time.

My personal favourite is The Crab with the Golden Claws, a classic detective story, and where Tintin first meets Captain Haddock.

I could talk all day about Tintin. It’s been a life-long pleasure.

He’s a great investigator with a cool head and a sense of adventure like no one else.

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Timeless, just like all good stories.

Stephen