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

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.

Acting with integrity

Acting with integrity

Last week my team shared a dinner out to celebrate promotions. We celebrated everyone there and those that were promoted were invited to say a few brief words.

Acting with Integrity is one of PwC’s stated Values and it’s critical to building trust, part of PwC’s purpose. The great thing about true values is the richness that comes bringing them to life. Psychology Today’s discusses the 7 Signs of People with Integrity which calibrated with me.

Firstly, parents who apologise to their children for over-punishment. As a parent, if you overstep the mark, then your children deserve an apology and for you to set aside your pride.

Secondly, bosses who acknowledge their team members’ achievements and downplay their own.

Thirdly, romantic partners who boycott name calling etc.  You’ll know when you’ve acted without integrity by how badly you feel if you resort to name calling to anyone actually.

Drivers who almost never drive aggressively. I’ve started extensively using adaptive cruise control even in the city. It takes almost all the stress from driving. So someone is a few kms slower in front? Breathe. It’s great for wellbeing too.

iStock-938113718.jpgPeople in positions of power apologising for keeping people waiting. It gets easier the more senior you are to keep people waiting, and sometimes it happens because of your role. But don’t get ahead of yourself – whether you’re a specialist or a manager interviewing prospective employees –  that you’re so important you don’t need any humility and humanity.

Coming in sixth is giving someone the benefit of the doubt, when the circumstances are unclear. In my forensic work this is a must. Anything else is an attack on the rule of law, whether that be the law of the land or the work rulebook.

Finally, volunteering. People with integrity help others without a need for reciprocity.

So with that criteria in mind, how do you stack up? We can challenge ourselves on these, and notice these behaviours in those around us. I think you could use some of these to see how prospective leaders stack up.

At our dinner, one of our team who was promoted only referenced the team who had worked with him, and got him to where he was. It was a sure sign of integrity and left a warm feeling all around. This frame is surely the reason why it felt good.

Stephen

 

Do we need leadership?

Do we need leadership?

It’s surely worth asking the question, especially on a leadership blog! Maybe it’s an age thing, but I find myself questioning more frequently whether I need anyone to “lead” me. I think I’m pretty good at getting on with work, life, a career and looking after myself without any sense of another person or persons leading me.

It might be a function of the lack of leadership globally right now that is part of this thinking. In the United States, past Presidents, who compared to the current incumbent, appear in hindsight to have been great leaders. But they’re mute right now.  In the United Kingdom, a Trumpish front runner looks like having a good chance of making it to the leadership of that country. Neither of these two individuals are leaders to me. Yes they might have that mantle, but if leadership is about vision, values, an ethical compass, respect and inclusion, I think we need another word for these sorts of individuals. Quite a few come to mind, but they’re not repeatable in this forum!

So, in my smug little world where I don’t think I need leadership can that be right? Probably not. Leaders around me have and continue to create the environment for me and my team’s success, with strategy, vision, purpose and an environment for personal and professional growth.

iStock-926404310.jpgSo you might not feel leadership all the time. But good leadership doesn’t need to be in your face, just providing the appropriate context is often sufficient.

Poor leadership, including ruling by division and clinging on to power at all costs, we definitely notice.

And rather than seek to just remove ourselves from the influence of such behaviour, as leaders this is the time to step up, be noticed, drive inclusion and values.

More than ever it’s needed right now.

Stephen

Only a very few things really matter

Only a very few things really matter

It might run contrary to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but I do increasingly think that only a couple of things matter – health and family – however defined by you, come to mind.

I haven’t blogged much lately because of other priorities. I’ve been walking most mornings and evening for exercise. I blogged about one walk recently through Cornwall Park.

The benefits of walking are well known and it’s helped me in many way:  working more effectively, thinking time, physical health and clothes fitting better!

Add good relationships with those that mean something to you – feels healthy and contented.

I might be overlooking Maslow in this simplistic interpretation of what’s important, which starts with physical needs (health, food) and safety, followed by belonging, esteem and self-actualisation.

My two “what matters” aren’t that high up the Hierarchy – in fact, health is a the bottom. It could be that I’ve got a fair way up Maslow’s needs and I’m heading down again.

It’s part of making life simple – walking, selling excess “things”, focussing on people that matter.

iStock-936370860.jpgA simple life, clear, clean and focussed.

Stephen

 

 

 

Cornwall Park

Cornwall Park

Cornwall Park was gifted to the people of New Zealand in 1901 by John Logan Campbell. It’s my favourite city park – and it doesn’t hurt that I’m within striking distance – for a good walk. I was there over the weekend after dark for a 10 kilometre loop out and back home.

Last year I attended a wonderful talk by the lead landscape architect, Thomas Woltz, engaged by the Park’s Trust Board, to oversee a 100 year transformation. Excitingly some of the projects are already underway. At the Manukau Road end of the Park, which I suspect many people don’t think of as an entrance to the Park, the statue and surrounds have been lovingly restored and invigorated.

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From Manukau Road through to the Green Lane entrance past the sport’s grounds it’s a great route that I never tire of. Cornwall Park “proper” (my phrase) is full of mature trees, farmland, rock walls and Twin Oaks Drive. There’s nothing quite like it.

At night it’s completely unlit which is rare in the city and ideal for deep thought.

Watch out for sheep on night patrols though!

What better way to build resilience?

Stephen

 

M

A real life M visited PwC recently. That’s all I can say really!

But there were a few things I was authorised to mention just to my readers here.

There were a lot of questions about technology and talk about the current geopolitical environment.

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What I noticed were some familiar themes from this seasoned security professional, that struck both a leadership and fraud prevention chord with me.

Sir John spoke about training and knowing your people as key factors that underpin an organisation (or country)’s security.  Quite basic things that you only notice you’ve overlooked them when something goes wrong.

He talked about focussing your security efforts on working out what is really valuable to your organisation, and then concentrating on protecting those assets.

Finally, he emphasised that security at an organisation begins with the leadership – it must be a strategic leadership responsibility – unless security of intellectual assets is taken seriously from the top – then it won’t receive the attention it needs.

Sir John Scarlett was asked about North Korea and its cyber attacks.  Technology has been a great leveler for espionage, he said, and I know this to be the case for fraud too:  small players in faraway places are just as likely to be a threat to your company as the local crooks.

He had some other messages about Russia, China, US, sharing of information between countries and 9/11, but in case that’s top secret I better save that for another day.

Stephen

Note:

Sir John Scarlett, the former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) spoke at a breakfast function at PwC recently.  M is the fictional head of MI6 from Ian Fleming’s James Bond. In the movie Skyfall, M is revealed to be short for Emma. Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Mallory takes over from M played by Dame Judi Dench at the end of the film, assumes the moniker and reappears in Spectre.