A testament to our own choices in time

In the movie Testament of Youth young men enthusiastically head to war in 1915 to “do the right thing”, for a bit of an OE and to join their mates. When I walked out of the cinema the phrase Testament of Stupidity came to mind.

Most of the people I know are fortunate to have choices in life. Some people don’t because of restricted society rules, war, cults and other tragedies of humanity.

The young men in the movie appeared to be making free choices. No doubt those who survived would agree that they had far from full information.

We start the Authentic Leadership Programme this morning with 18 managers embarking on a journey of discovery about themselves and others. We’ll start by learning about individual preferences and what others say about us. It won’t be exact information, but time, space and resources will be freely given to enable all the participants to interpret the information and plan for their individual next steps.

Taking new information on board to develop our leadership requires deliberate actions to be made by leaders to ensure the new insights are properly understood, interpreted and acted on. It can’t just be accepting someone’s interpretation of “the right thing” or what our mates are doing.

On the first day of the Programme, and in the ensuing months, our managers will be encouraged to make deliberate choices and changes in their leadership based on full information, reflection and planning. What will matter will be what is best for each leader to grow his or her leadership potential, their teams and their organisation.

Pressure will come for sure, it’s not always easy making changes, but the pressure will be based on honest and full information.

Stephen

Despite my post-movie reaction, Testament of Youth is a powerful story and a great movie.

1984

Eight January was both David Bowie’s and Stephen Hawking’s birthday. Bowie, who turned 65 had a hit in the 70s 1984 inspired by the George Orwell novel of the same name. An artist of many faces he remains an icon of rock and I’m happy to have quite a few of his albums in my collection. Hawking turned 70 but didn’t make it to his celebrations on account of recovering from a bout of ill-health. Hawking already is and will no doubt go down in history as one of the most remarkable minds we have been fortunate enough to have amongst us. His ability to turn the complexities of the universe into language we can all appreciate and marvel at is a gift.

Thinking about spacetime and the big bang can make you feel pretty insignificant and that’s probably correct.

Who really is out there!

It’s a strange thing being at home for a few days. I’ve discovered that people do indeed phone the home landline. Mainly looking for money but this afternoon Hector called from the “Microsoft Support Centre” – yeah right. Trying to play with Hector for a moment didn’t seem to work: “where are you based Hector? I’m wondering as you asked how I was this evening when it’s not yet evening”. “I’m from the Microsoft Support Centre, how are you this evening?” he repeated. You only get a few moments to play with Hector and his friends before they cut you loose and move on to the next potential victim. And it’s awful being hung up on so my inclination is to get the last word in then hang up.

Susan from LinkedIn has been communicating with me via email over a problem I’ve had with my contacts list. It seems I’ve invited too many people and hit some sort of scam alert – or that’s what I can deduce from the online forums – as Susan assures me that there is “no restriction at all on your account” and wishes me good cheer. But not before assuring me that the “Setting of being asked to provide an email address, while sending invitation will be disabled automatically. However, I’m unable to provide you an exact time frame for that to happen as its purely system generated.” So I enquired as to what the event or action was that had caused the system to do this to my account. Having once enquired of Google as to why my adverts had stopped running I knew the perils of asking specific questions of such an organisation.

The answer could have been straight from Winston Smith, the protagonist in 1984. Denial that anything had been altered on my account but a repeated assurance that the system would disable it. Followed by an upbeat appreciation of my being part of their network and an invitation to reply should any further assistance be required. WTF! I like LinkedIn and have got excellent value from it. I politely suggested that perhaps Susan might like to let her manager review our communications, if for no other reason than to help the organisation understand its clients better. More good cheer and an offer to complete a feedback form, declined, but still sent, curiously within an hour of one from Google! Winston is surely watching me.

It’s a new year and clearly I have too much time on my hands thinking about this stuff. Susan is sure to be a good person. Hector’s probably trying to support his family – shame he’s chosen an organisation that steals passwords and what goes with them. At least with Hector you pretty well know what you’re up for. But when it comes to large multi-nationals who spread themselves all over our little globe (think spacetime and it doesn’t feel so bad) then wouldn’t it be okay to just answer the question truthfully? Or maybe even say that they won’t answer it?

Thanking and general politeness can be patronising tools to avoid dealing with a real issue. A good lesson for all of us in leadership. How many times have you heard “I just wish they’d told me it as it is”?

That’s off my chest. If my LinkedIn disappears you’ll know why!

Stephen

New Court ruling: what you don’t know can’t hurt you

The government has decided to get tough on those who seek name suppression because it’s not fair on those that don’t and justice should be administered publicly and in a transparent manner. Seems sensible enough, though, and I’m no apologist for the rich and famous, most of the time it’s only the most serious of crimes that are reported, unless you’re rich and famous.

In my work with organisations, the biggest problems in change or crisis arise from lack of transparency. When leadership is transparent, whatever the message, it is better received and the grief associated with change is shorter and less intense. Confidence comes from transparency.

Which is why the complaints and investigations about Supreme Court Judge Wilson being publicly aired are very important for our confidence in the judiciary. This judiciary that will monitor and lead the government’s intentions on our behalf on name suppression.

I see today that the government has settled an arrangement with Judge Wilson that sees all action stopped and a payout to him of nearly $1 million. The reason given by “cause and effect thinker” Judith Collins is that “To proceed with this case would have caused incalculable damage to confidence in the judiciary”. What can that mean? That we will keep hearing about Wilson’s alleged inappropriate conduct? That it will remind us that there is a judge who it is alleged did not act appropriately? That we might find a judge guilty of a conflict of interest?

If the cause of this problem is the alleged lack of candor on the part of a judicial officer, then this drop it and hide it solution takes you straight back to the cause. It’s a lesson for us all on the perils of linear thinking, hiding to avoid the hard questions and in this case, hypocrisy.

We know Judge Wilson’s name, we know what it’s alleged he did, but those that lead him and us in a transparent justice system for all have suppressed for ever the ability for us to know whether or not something was sick in the courts. Or that’s what they intend.

Actually we can see now there is something very wrong. And it’s not just one Judge.

Unintended consequences. You gotta love ’em!

Stephen

ps I haven’t gone permanently political on my blogs! Sometimes things just hit you. Hard. I wrote about government transparency over a year ago too.