Lots of different ideas this week – Pardon the Interruption as an example of effective debate; the idea that the best forecast is only good for 400 days – we can’t see into the future; and, the observation that we struggle to talk about leadership without ‘bigging’ it up.
I was reminded of the importance of experiments in leadership and the importance of making small bets to plan.
It was challenging this week when I reflected on what it means to be authentic to myself and how I position myself within this space.
To continue to work on being more authentic and developing the idea of ordinary leadership.
Lots of food for thought this week, with different projects all picking up the pace (not ideal) at the same time. Also, lots of personal challenges this week, as I reflect on what it means to be authentic to myself – in terms of what I’m writing and putting out into the world, how I show up for others, and where I put my time.
Ideas I found interesting?
I really enjoyed this Adam Grant podcast, with Becky Kennedy, on bringing out the good in kids. The podcast makes an interesting point about setting boundaries and being clear about what success – is for both a parent and child. We need to know what our job description is. If you don’t know the importance of the objective you are aiming for and what you are trying to accomplish, it's hard to succeed.
Good sport – episode two – I didn’t know anything about Pardon the Interruption (despite having grown up in Canada), as sports/talk show format. This episode is genuinely fascinating on how sports talk shows have influenced how popular culture debates and talk about issues – or talks over each other about issues. Pardon the Interruption could be a good example of creating psychological safety and an environment where it is okay to disagree, but still support each other. I need to think about how I could potentially use the clip to talk about communication and building culture (https://www.ted.com/podcasts/good-sport/pardon-the-interruption-transcript).
“Forty per cent of global CEOs think their organisation will no longer be economically viable in ten years' time if it continues on its current course” – PWC’s report on winning today’s race, while running tomorrow's.
The best forecasts are only good for about 400 days into the future, most of our forecasts are at best good for 150 days (The Good Forecasting Project).
I found that I am noticing more the strange choices we make in describing individuals – and the power dynamics that this sets up. For example, in Why should anyone be led by you?, the authors talk about how they “met and observed a cleaning supervisor in a large New York office building. Marcia is Puerto Rican American woman who lead a team of office clears. She is a larger-than-life character – in every sense”. As I read myself reading this, a paragraph after a flowing description of Richard Branson, I wondered why she needs to be Puerto Rican American. What is the value of “-in every sense”, and why does it have to be a large New York Office Building? In thinking about leadership and how we think about it, I wondered if the story would be less interesting or valuable if these choices of language were changed.
What did I learn?
I enjoyed attending Margaret Heffernan’s talk and being reminded of the need to think differently about the future – to break out of the model of forecast, plan, execute. It was a useful reminder of the importance of experimenting and placing small bets. This, along with finishing the Grid, and starting on Why should anyone be led by you, really got me thinking about the different experiments I’m trying – and there feels like there are a lot.
All of these experiments are on me as well: How do I show up more authentically, in what I write and do? Where do I want to focus on market and developing my work? Who am I targeting ordinary leadership at? Does it work to write lots of blog posts and LinkedIn content – is that a good use of my time?
And, for me one of the biggest experiments – is how to I bring value to others. Or, what value do I bring to this leadership thing? The more I think about it, and reflect on what I hear, the more I realise that I do bring value. I bring a different perspective from traditional business leadership thinking. I also have a unique experience – everyone does – of leadership and I would benefit from owning it more. It is an interesting thought and one that I’m not always super comfortable expressing.
I’m also learning to be more authentic in myself and my communication. This I’m still figuring out, what’s my style, how do I come across, what makes me? What makes me, me, and how do I convey this. Passions, interests, things I like about myself. What’s my brand = serious but caring? It certainly isn’t full of humour and wit.
What did I enjoy?
I enjoyed this clip on how our behaviours matter. At time 6:17 – you need your behaviour to reflect the outcomes you want. It is such a clear, and simple explanation of the dichotomy that is presented in the media. On one hand, a manager should get angry and scream at the referee, because of a bad decision. On the other, we complain and worry about attacks on officials at the grassroots level – and there is a connection. Really nice to see someone making the connection and getting a bit angry about the way the media covers topics.
It was also good to spend a day in the office for the first time in a while. You forget how nice it is to be around people, with all the distractions, music, and chit chat that goes with it. It is genuinely fun to be around people.
What did I find challenging?
It was a week for being challenged. I found myself being challenged in how I think about Ordinary Leadership and its position in the market. I was challenged to think about what it means to be authentically me. And, I was challenged or felt more challenged by all the small bets I was making that I need to keep moving on.
On Ordinary Leadership, reading The Grid, and doing some research into how you get agents for your book, has me thinking about what I know – or actually don’t know – about the people who might want to work with me and buy my eventual book. I felt this tension between writing about what I find fun and fascinating, being curious and trying to shape what I do and focus on to a specific market; reducing the space for curiosity. I’m not quite sure right now where to take this, and I’ll keep experimenting.
What does it mean to be me. Someone told me this week, that their niche had come from identifying a group of people who they liked working with and who liked working with them. For me, the question I keep asking myself is that I’m trying these experiments, which is a bit like trying on lots of different clothes. I’m trying to figure out which ones feel right and don’t. The point is that being authentic = consistency between words and deeds (you do what you say), coherence in role performance (who you are doesn’t change when you do different roles), and comfort with self. I liked this point, and at the same time don’t entirely feel this right now – which is a bit of the point in the transition of working identity, you aren’t always in that position.
Experimentation – I’ve found this challenging this week. Perhaps because there are too many different pieces moving. I liked the point that Margaret Heffernan made about the need to experiment – learn – scale, and figure out how to operate in a complex and complicated world. That had me thinking about other experiments that I could do, testing training and building up some pro-bono training to demonstrate what I’ve done. Then I found myself thinking, is it training that I want to do, or selling a point of view? All of this is an interesting challenge, and all the time I’m experimenting with LinkedIn, which posts work and don’t – most don’t seem to right now – and how can I reach out more.
What did I achieve?
I finished reading The Grid, started Why should anyone be led by you, and had an exciting idea for Ordinary Leadership – trying to simplify and make manageable all the different leadership concepts that are out there. I also produced content for four different pieces of training, helped to organise an event in Pakistan, and played around (like almost everyone in the world) with ChatGPT.
What are you looking forward to next week?
I’m looking to get a few things sorted around the house, finishing off some training, attending a Henley Business School event on leadership, and continuing to experiment – even if at this point in time, it is feeling pretty hard.