Tag Archives: neuroscience

collborative leadership learning

Collaboration a Critical Leadership Skill?

In todays volatile, uncertain complex and ambiguous world is our ability to collaborate and outsource some of our thinking the most critical human ability to foster?

At leadership By Design we spend a lot of time working on leadership development interventions in larger organizations. So much of the development value people get from these types of programmes seems to be around how they see the world and perceive themselves and how much that drives them to change their interactions with others.

It really is how to get more done with others or in other words how to collaborate better.

Interestingly ” to collaborate” has some mixed meanings:

  •  to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor
  •  to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one’s country and especially an occupying force
  •  to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected

Do these go some way to illustrate why collaboration is not always seen as positive or a high priority? In an organisation made up of silos do we sometimes compete for resources or recognition? Are there some other parts of the organisation we are not immediately connected with? When you also factor in a resource constrained busy environment with an understandable bias to urgency collaboration can be confined to “What has to be done” to get the work done rather than “What would like to be done”   if you had the time.

Being “more collaborative” features on just about every notable assessment of critical leadership capabilities for now and the future I have  had the opportunity to review from CCL to Deloitte and the CPD.

Forgive my hard-wiring I tend to try and make sense of the world referencing neuroscience and the act of collaboration raises a number of questions I find interesting to ponder.  If you will accept the following assumptions that all our brains are different and are being continually shaped by our perceptions of our experiences.

We are all bias about our own views of the world and will tend to try and confirm our “working model” of about things are in order to obtain the meaning we need in the world.  When we collaborate it is worth remembering that it is our brains that are collaborating. In light of that:

  • Is effective collaboration about developing the skills and knowledge and motivation to suspend our own views so we can take on others?
  • Is it is also about building new ways of thinking with others?

Both of these would seem to be good things that could foster engagement improve decision making and encourage  innovative thinking in our organisations. Areas where improvements could drive real value.

That being the case shouldn’t organisations be more purposeful about fostering collaboration?

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Wellington and Auckland One Stop Update for Accountants Conference Update

Leadership by Design was asked to speak at the above conference on “Taking the Leap Career Strategies for the Finance professional.” We knew we had taken the right angle NOT to talk about Career Plans when we asked the 150 delegates how many of them had a Career Development Plan?  We don’t seek out to highlight Finance professionals as being any different from any other work groups  to although of course they may be.  Those that indicated they had a plan numbered less than 10 and even allowing for those that have a plan but were reluctant to  raise their hands by any stretch of the imagination  it was a small minority.

Perhaps not surprisingly what research there has been seems to support this view that the majority of mid-career managers do not have a career plan.

It is interesting when you consider these two perspectives:

1. The world is volatile, complex, changing and full of ambiguity

2. Despite endless restructuring and significance job losses in the last few years there is still a talent shortage

The latest Immediate NZ Skills Shortage List from the Ministry of Business Information and Employment has close to a 100 occupations on it. The Long Term Shortage List  for NZ is even longer.

Our angle was to talk about how our brains respond to change, work pressures and increases in complexity. Most of us prefer to spend more time bolstering our current perceptions (or bias)  of the world rather than meeting the challenge of  being disciplined and finding quieter  time in order to reflect on the current realities.

In many work places it feels to us that we feel we are just too busy to think and we tend to get distracted by both detail and urgency. Something we describe with the metaphor of the clock and the compass. The clock represents our task, deadline and activities the compass our values, purpose and direction. It is our view that our brain biology moves us more on autopilot  towards the clock whereas an act of will is required to  reflect and focus on the compass.

Any way we hope you enjoy the slides and our thanks to Daniel Pink for his 6 Career Principles for a changing world.


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Managing Change Yeah Right!

It seems that our basic brain physiology is designed to accommodate learning and growth on the one hand  whilst at the same time being  resistant to imposed change.  How can our leaders best deal with that reality and what specifically can leaders do if anything to help facilitate change in individuals and teams.

Well the good news for leaders is that there are some things that you can do  and at the same time probably some things that you should try and stop doing unintentionally.  Contemporary Neuroscience is starting to give us some “How to’s”  on change and  I don’t mean endless mechanistic change methodology checklists either.  Look change readiness assessments and and all the paraphernalia of change project management frameworks are useful, and have their place  but estimated global change project effectiveness  at 30% rates suggests they are not the whole story.

The trouble is that they are based on flawed principles of rationality in human beings. “If we could only communicate effectively enough  for long enough our employees will see the wisdom of our change and rationally choose to get on board”.  Well some might I suppose “the quick adopters ” but the truth is we are profoundly self interested emotional beings and much of our responses to change ( I am talking about both leaders and followers here) have very little to do with rationality.

So how can leaders influence the emotional perceptions of their colleagues? STOP :- it needs to start with themselves befote they attempt to influence others.  Global research suggests many Leaders respond to and cope with organisational change by working harder, taking fewer risks and keeping their heads down just at the time when their teams are paying more attention to them and looking for greater visibility of leadership and clarification. So leaders need to “lead themselves”  in order to be in the best place to provide leadership to others.  Assuming they can do that how can leaders positively influence their teams?

Well why not check out the article free and in full right here.

Get a full copy of the article right here on our resources page

The Power Of Habit

Thought you might find this interesting folks Charles Duhigg has deconstructed the process of habit forming and the impact that has on organisational culture.  Interestingly Dughill started a recent study of students at Duke university that distinguishes decision making  from habit and found that the test subjects were using habits about 45% of the time during the day.

I like the definition of a habit something you made a decision on in the past and still demonstrate the behaviour but no longer feel the need to think about. For those of you familiar with a little neuroscience we use the Pre-frontal cortex for decision making whilst we use the basal ganglia for more habitual thinking. So we may not be conscious or overly clear on our own habits unless we reflect upon them.
Every habit has 3 components a cue, a routine and a reward ( sounds a lot like ABC of behavioral analysis:  Antecedant, behaviour and consequence)  There is some useful concept and useful illustrative stories.

Video: Good Life Project: Charles Duhigg – Power of Habit

The cue and reward are the critical parts of an habit that can empower you to change your habits. We can manipulate the cues or the reward. A nice example if you are struggling to get into  exercising then trick your brain and give yourself a small piece of chocolate as a reward.  Apparently your desire for that reward will diminish after a week or 2 or be replaced by other rewards such as  dopamine.

I like the identification of the  different types of cues (other people, an emotion, certain time, certain place,)  to behavior and how to influence that process to create constructive habits.

It endorses the view that instead of trying to stop a habit ;building a new habit to replace an old one is the best way to go.

Anyway we hope you find the video interesting.

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