I often find myself thinking how many big things are not going right globally: climate change, our management and respect of the environment, fervent nationalism and the resulting damage to democratic institutions.
I can make small steps on some of these things and show leadership to provide positive role-modelling and examples.
At the risk of sounding shallow there are some things that I think we might be in a golden era for. One of those is television.
Watching detectorists on Netflix this last week was an outstandingly enjoyable experience. So much so I watched the entire two series through twice.
But wait, there’s more. They’re not going to give you the warm fuzzies like detectorists but The Americans, Homeland, Ozark and my personal favourite that I’m waiting impatiently for the third series of, Occupied.
Detectorists involves shallow digging and has deep human truths in it, but Occupied gets uncomfortably close to the current nationalism, foreign interference and environmental challenges as you might wish for. I had to double check that it really was conceived before the last US presidential election. It was.
When Mary spoke at our PwC Fraud Academy event this morning she shared her personal experiences of “blowing the whistle” on her boss some years back. What struck me and others in the room was the very real and powerful effects on her.
At one level she simply did the right thing, having found evidence of invoicing fraud. But it was much more than this. The sense of disbelief – could my boss have really done this? The agony of not knowing who to trust. The suspicion that others might be involved. And the fear. Fear of consequences for herself – “maybe people will think I’m involved” – or at least culpable for not having picked it up, and the fear of what her boss might do.
As it turned out, after her boss was confronted by senior management she was confronted by him: “What have you done? They’re accusing me of all manner of things“.
Nasty stuff and not things we hope we’ll ever face in the workplace.
Leaders will typically prepare for crisis events: spring into action for natural disasters and man-made events. Preparing ourselves for confronting the worst aspects of the human condition requires drawing on our innermost resources and life experiences.
Mary left and we wrapped up the session with a few words about the importance of transparent and visible whistleblower services.
As our audience left one woman came up to me and asked me to ensure that we properly thanked Mary for her bravery “I just wanted to hug her” she said.
When Mum and Dad were married, the end of WWII was just seven years earlier. That’s like it had ended at the end of 2011, looking back from now. Or, if we look at the Armistice for WWI, the 100th year of which we commemorated yesterday, that was thirty-four years prior, say 1984 from today’s lens.
Photographs from that era were all black and white and the first one included in this blog is the “meet the parents” trip taken outside 125 Queen Street, Auckland. Until recently this was the Bank of New Zealand building, the bank that Mum and Dad have been with for all that time! (although I’m pretty sure Mum has some funds hidden away elsewhere). The photograph was taken by a street photographer and collected from the store an hour or so later on payment of a small fee.
It’s tempting to look at a long marriage as a specific time period and consider it a great achievement (which it is), or a good effort (perhaps like a prison sentence – “hey it’s more than David Bain did and he was innocent!”), or assume what is there today is what was there all along.
Here’s the wedding day – them on the right with one of Dad’s brothers as best man with the bridesmaid.
Unlike the photographs it’s not all black and white. Mum and Dad are quite colourful actually – check out the recent photograph below. They’re parents, grandparents, great grandparents, brother and sister, uncle, aunty, cousin and friends to many.
So on this day it’s a celebration of a couple who have lived together as an example of love, persistence, humour, faith and actually, the most important thing of all: just doing good. Some of that even washed onto me!
Nice. Congratulations. You’re a legendary couple.
ps 66 years!
noun a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
It’s a word that’s been top of mind lately. As authentic leaders we strive to provide an environment where those we lead can perform, grow and reach their purpose, or meaning.
I have had an internal debate about whether I look for purpose or meaning. Whichever one it is I strive for, lately I’ve noticed that unless something brings joy, I’m hesitating.
A colleague and I engaged in a coaching conversation today. We challenged each other on blocks that people have to finding joy. It is the nature of the work? Is it too much work? Or is it just a mindset.
Work won’t always bring us joy. Sometimes it’s just hard. Our personal objectives won’t always bring us joy. Getting there can be hard.
But on the way through I reckon we should be finding some joy. Not just from reaching a purpose, finding a meaning, or even reaching a goal. But on the way through.
Reminding ourselves “these are the good old days“. Making it a daily challenge to find the mindset that brings joy to us is not easy, but worth a try for our own sense of purpose or meaning, and our teams.
We visited the Erebus memorial at Waikumete Cemetery yesterday on the Authentic Leadership Programme. Then we travelled back to Waitakere Estate through the beautiful Scenic Drive and watched a powerful movie of corporate greed and fraud.
Our natural instincts are that we wouldn’t get involved in that sort of activity – we wouldn’t cover up the mishandling of the flight path that might have caused a plane crash – we wouldn’t sacrifice our values and integrity for money, would we?
We’d hope not. But circumstances can make people do things that they wouldn’t think they are capable of. I know, I’ve seen it in multiple fraud cases over the years. When I was at the Serious Fraud Office, most of the people we prosecuted didn’t start out as crooks. But a combinations of circumstances (pressure or greed), opportunity (no one can see) and justification (I deserve it or it’s mine) can turn ordinary, honest men and women into criminals.
So what to do about it? I think of my values as my valuables – I try not to leave them lying around, I protect them and I know where they are at all times. Of course there’s a lot more to it but that’s a good start.
We should also pay attention to our lies. Sound confronting? Wise leaders are intentionally clear about their communication and don’t use weasel words that allow for mis-interpretation.
As I write this the leaders on the Programme are recording those five ethical considerations that they won’t allow to be compromised. Then they’re drafting a legacy.
One goes with the other.
There’s a lot going on at work right now. Probably too much and I’m sure the team agrees.
So when I booked an afternoon in another city to work and connect with others it seemed a good idea, but not so good this morning.
Nowadays a lot of work can be done anywhere – have laptop and phone – location matters less and less (more on this another day).
After a conference call which sounded like an echo chamber in the airport lounge, I was off. The man next to me was reading the flight manual for the Boeing 777. Maybe he should have had the aisle seat.
The air was crisp and the sky blue on arrival. Bluer (is that a word?) than home. It felt quite productive for me although I may have fired off one or two many emails with ideas, thoughts and instructions.
Then some conversations. Different conversations giving me a different lens on issues and challenges.
When I boarded I realised I had just slightly more perspective than yesterday. A different place, different views on a vexing issue, and some introverted thinking time. I needed that. You might too.
I used to take time out from my day job once a year, suit off, and drive a truck delivering telephone books for a week. It was refreshing, great exercise, and I got to know parts of the city, especially Parnell, very well. It was slightly jolting at first to realise that your attire (and the job that went with it), had a big impact on how people treated you. “Put them over there”. Fine, and good morning to you too.
Five or six years ago colleagues would check in as to whether to wear a tie. Casual Friday was once a month. It soon moved to once a week and then it was “dress for the day”.
Today you’ll see male and female colleagues in smart jeans, shirt in, shirt out, smart suits, open shirts, hoodies, and the occasional tie.
So what is the look of leadership? Is there a look of leadership? What should a leader look like?
Are there really clothing expectations of a professional leadership position? There’s some places you don’t have much choice for formal clothes – a court lawyer, or member of parliament – but almost everything else there’s a lot of flexibility. If you take it.
I do. Some days a suit, others jeans, the occasional hoodie. I’m not sure it makes much difference. Maybe I should try being a delivery person for a day and see if the world has changed!
I see it’s New Zealand Fashion Week later this month.