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Why if the Tories, Barclays Bank and others that opposed change are invited to Mandela’s Funeral they should go.

The past few days have been filled with sorrow, the loss of one of the worlds most inspirational and transformational leaders.  In some respect he even felt like a Papa figure (word for granddad in the Caribbean), he is an elder that has done so much for me, for us, for the world.  I remember being in school and singing “free Nelson Mandela.”  I remember things that changed because of him.  I remember visiting Cape Town and district 6 where people “Blacks” and “St Helenians” were instantly removed.  I fall into both of these groups.  So the thought of many of the hypocrites now stepping forward was sickening, when in fact they were on the wrong side of change. Then I remembered when I visited Robben island and stood in his cell, and let’s not forget the many others that were wrongly imprisoned there.  I stood there with a sense of perspective.  Nelson Mandela had an insightful perspective on change, perhaps because of the long time he had to endure the same view and people. He knew how to change people who were his opponents, to bring people behind him who would have originally strung him up.  “We are one people with one destiny” he eliminated division, just look at what he did by using Rugby to bring together the people in the 1995 world cup.

On Friday on my sister shared the Guardian’s article on the hypocritical standpoint of the Tories.  Today Sunday I received a petition from (below) to petition against David Cameron’s attendance of the funeral.  Whilst I agree, it is right that we do not let people re-write history.  What would alienation achieve?  He said "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies." We should learn from him.  What would Nelson Mandela do?  He would look and see how we can engage and involve these people (hypocrites included) as they stand up to be on the right side of history now.  We need to think how to challenge those that were hypocrites, to carry Nelson Mandela’s legacy on with today’s challenges.  There is still a lot more for humanity to do.  The impact of change will be more powerful with them; then against them.

The petition should read David Cameron:

  • How to address racism, which still exists, people are still judged for the colour of their skin.
  • How to reduce the gap between rich and poor, which in today’s economy has been polarised by policies that give the elite access to education.
  • How to shape social policies that eliminate classism.  There are people relying on food banks and children in a western economy living below the poverty line.  1 in 6 children in the UK live below the poverty line according to the DWP 2013.  Classism is a worsening division.

David Cameron embrace the inspiration that is Mandela:

  • "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
  • "I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days." calling for a petition to ban David Cameron from the funeral need to swallow any grief, anger, righteousness  and hurt.

Ultimately what would Mandela do "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."

Leadership Development via Sense Making

Leadership Development via Sense Making


Leadership Development via Sense Making I came across an article which took the work of Jean Piaget where children develop their understanding of the world through sense making, and then assessed how leaders evolve through sense making. It was truly a great article and gets to the crux of great leadership when we see self awareness, and leaders that create a new sense of meaning to the world.

My interpretation in a nutshell.

Mandela’s 8 Lessons of Leadership

Mandela’s 8 Lessons of Leadership


Image I take snippets from life: the people I meet, my own learning’s and people I admire.  One of the readings on my Doctorate included Mandela.  I just wanted to share for those that have not read it.

  1. Courage is not the absence of fear – it’s inspiring others to move beyond it
  2. Lead from the front – but don’t leave your base behind
  3. Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front
  4. Know your enemy – and learn about his favourite sport
  5. Keep your friends close – and your rivals even closer
  6. Appearances matter – and remember to smile
  7. Nothing is black or white
  8. Quitting is leading too

I hope Mandela’s health returns, because he has been so instrumental in the change.  In most leadership positions there is not the weight of a nation on the leader's shoulders, but no leader is immortal. Mandela’s  8th point shows he knew the importance of succession, and that the real success is the legacy you leave for others to step forward.

Culture, Sales and the Bottom Line

Culture, Sales and the Bottom Line


Organisation Development professionals know that culture can make or break the success of an acquisition or merger.  Sometimes this can be difficult to quantify.  I have been studying this a lot recently in relation to my doctorate.  So I wanted to share some tangible research that stimulates the debate. Research on the entry of companies into new markets, has shown the economic consequences of cultural distance. Li and Guisinger identified that foreign companies that entered the US from a culturally distant country were more likely to fail (Li 1991).  Analysis found that the survival rates of foreign firms decreased with cultural distance.  The relationship between success and cultural distance was more prevalent in joint ventures, and acquisitions than green field start-ups (Barkema 1997). If the absence of a dominant HQ culture or leadership in a start up aids the success of a company, this could provide better insight into the success factors in entry into new markets.  In China the success of foreign joint ventures have been linked to the cultural distance of the different parties (Luo 1999).  Nakano (1997) identified that US and Japanese managers differed significantly in their ethics orientations (Nakano 1997).  Research in Italy measured the sales growth in acquired firms for a period of two years, and there was a positive relationship to the cultural distance of the partners (Morosini 1998).

This research is an asset because it provides a direct link between culture and sales; the bottom line.  This type of research is needed by managers in order to win a business case to address the people and cultural issues.  Schlegelmilch and Robertson went a little deeper and showed that it was both the country and industry that affected the ethical perceptions of senior executives in the US and European countries (Schlegelilch 1995). Hofstede’s empirical research in the UK and 46 countries identified leadership preferences of “Tells,” “Sells,” “Consults” and “Joins.”  This accumulated research links culture to the success or failure of international businesses.  It also identifies that different leadership styles are used in different countries.

A weakness of the research is a lack of explanation as to why green field start-ups are more successful?  The question leaves a research void that could be valuable to understand a possible solution.  Other limitations of the research are that it does not help companies to understand the idiosyncrasies of what is not effective. What a Leader should avoid to be successful in each culture is not clear.

These very questions are what have stimulated me as a professional to contribute knowledge back to my profession, and answer some of these questions.  For now I wish to arm professionals with some harder evidence that our colleagues in other departments like finance readily have.

We can relate culture change and leadership back to the bottom line.


11 Factors for Successful Talent Management

11 Factors for Successful Talent Management

  1. Get the foundations right.  What does success require in your organisation now.  Too often I see competency frameworks that are over complicated, not updated, or not flexible enough to be able to adjust to different cultural needs.  Talent is a mixture of performance and potential, so have a strong foundation to reflect on that.
  2. Regular reflection.  Forget just having an annual process.  We have always talked about regular feedback, but we drag managers through a yearly and often laborious process.  There is so much technology to hand like Rypple that allows for regular feedback.
  3. Think about what leadership you require.  What is your capability gap, what are your success factors?  There is no one right way to successful leadership.  Different companies require different things, some need to navigate in a mature environment and some need a tribe of leaders throughout the business to innovate.
  4. When you understand what you need think about where can I source that Talent.  In sourcing Talent don’t just stick to the same industry.  Your organisation might be going through points of pain now that another industry has faced in the past, or a different customer groups you want to attract.  For example, the maturity and decrease of subsidisation faced in the wind industry now could be compared to issues that ship builders or aviation manufacturers   Homogeneous mind-sets can come back to bite you.
  5. Where are your points of pain?  You will have different points of pain where it will hurt the delivery of your business goals.  A lot will depend on your budget.   It may not be possible to provide for the needs of all talent, you may have or want to differentiate your offering.  Do you need new talent for the future, or bench strength now because you have an executive board that will need successors in the near future?
  6. Do not undervalue experience and exposure.  Once you have identified the gaps think about what you have available that can expose your Talent to the required skills and capabilities to fill the gap.  There is great value in mentoring, coaching, the right projects and regular feedback.
  7. Owned by the CEO and the executive team.  Question the CEO and executive team on what are their business challenges?  Some may or may not translate into Talent problems, and some may be burning platforms.  In my experience there are often burning platforms, which give you the engagement of the right people.  Get sponsors on the executive board to own and define the problem, the outputs and the process of designing, building, implementing and maintaining the program.
  8. Built by the business.  The middle managers and team leaders should be involved in the design and build of the programme.  They will know what will work for them, what is practical and the collaboration increases the success of the program.  You can also engage employees in a pilot, which brings valuable feedback on language and cultural differences that need to be taken into account.
  9. Business Continuity.  The responsibility of the program should remain with the business.  HR should not take ownership, it will simply be seen as something that HR will manage we nominate the Talent, and then hand over to HR.  This will only give a short-term success to the program.

10. HR Facilitation.  HR needs to continually facilitate the process, inspiring leaders and having corridor conversations.  For example, if a leader is visiting APAC they could meet up with some of those on the Talent Pool so that they have a view of their people.

11. Measure.  Define the measures of success with the executive team.  Measures I have implemented before are bench-strength, time to recruit, cost of attrition and numbers at risk.  This facilitates regular conversations, actions and business continuity.

Everyday Leadership

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