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Emotions and Leadership As we prepare tomorrow's business leaders, not enough is being invested in teaching them the basics of what it means to be human.  Their preparation typically consists of an on-going accumulation of factual knowledge combined with the acquisition of a spectrum of business skills.  It is apparent when looking at this kind of work preparation, that the focus is on the content and the process of the work to be done. Much less is invested in the ability to relate to whom they are actually leading: human beings.  Learning to work with and lead people is for the most part often left to be learned on the [...]

Getting started with Peer-to-Peer Networking

Getting started with Peer-to-Peer Networking

The Peer-to-Peer Networking process combines state of the art management content with the benefits of social learning. This approach provides a cost effective way to develop people and is easy to implement.  Employees can either have a face-to-face experience in your organization's meeting rooms or participate in a Peer-to-Peer Networking module virtually with other colleagues online. Your business can take the following three steps to introduce this process into your organization: 1. Test it with a team   If you are intrigued by the concept of the Coaching Ourselves approach by Henry Mintzberg - try it out.  Select a team for a 90 minute [...]

Focusing on the future Feedback is an essential element of good leadership and high performance teams.  Individuals cannot function in a vacuum.  They need to know what they are doing well and what they need to improve. Dr. Marshall Goldsmith - a well known management educator and coach notes that feedback has a fundamental limitation.  Feedback by its very nature looks at the past instead of looking ahead towards the future.  This makes feedback potentially static and undynamic.  The past cannot be changed. It is in the future that possibilities for development reside. To address this fundamental flaw in feedback [...]

Encountering Holocracy I became aware of Holocracy in 2016 when I read an article in the German language newspaper Handelsblatt on the recent work of the distinguished Professor Gary Hamel who is known for introducing the concept of c ore competencies in the 1990s. This theory suggests that companies can build a sustainable competitive advantage by identifying and investing in the core processes that drive their business.  In more recent years, Hamel's work has taken a very different direction. He is concerned with the future of management. He believes that in many ways hierarchical management is actually impeding the generation of value.  Somewhere in the footnotes of [...]

Lifelong Learning Knowledge is accumulating at an ever increasing pace in today's world. As a result, fostering lifelong learning is regarded as essential for a company's on-going success. Individuals need to continue learning throughout the course of their working lives. Companies support their employees' learning journey by offering a broad spectrum of courses and training programs as part of their management development programs. Normally such formal courses and training programs are based on an established template which are carried out repeatedly. External experts with specific know-how are often engaged present this knowledge to the participants. This top-down approach may provide [...]

A Shift in Leadership for a Digital World

A Shift in Leadership for a Digital World

The challenges of the digital revolution are compelling us to review our understanding of what comprises good leadership.  In the not too distant past, one of middle managers’ main responsibilities was the transfer of information throughout the organization.  Today much of that information is available at a click of a button.  In the not too distant past, most of the information was to be found at the top of the organization.  Today it is everywhere throughout the organization and it is quite likely that key strategic information does not necessarily reside in the C-Suite.  As a matter of fact, in [...]

PMG is a medium size company specializing in the manufacturing of automotive parts.  New management was recently hired to lead the organization into the next phase of the company's development.  After a review of the business, the leadership embarked on several strategic change initiatives. How could the management be better prepared to guide these initiatives in an effective manner? Taking the Fish out of the Water A fish does not know what water is until it is taken out of the water.   Similarly, leaders and managers in organizations often do not see the water around them either – until [...]

The Context The EKN division of E.O.N. - a German based energy company - convened a meeting in the form of a systemic dialogue in order to enhance employee engagement.  150 employees out of a total EKN workforce of approximately 800 participated at two locations - Hamburg and Landshut.  During the course of these meetings, multiple proposals were made that could potentially have a considerable impact on EKN's workplace.   However, over 600 employees were not able to participate directly in the formulation of these proposals.  How could these employees not only be informed of the potential proposals being considered, [...]

In the wheat growing areas of the world, grain is stored in large towers known as silos. Each silo rises high into the sky, independent of the other silos. Multiple silos are usually required. This colorful metaphor that has become commonplace to describe separation and lack of coordination in organizations and in society which is not necessarily understood across the entire world. Silos are not to be found in rice based economies. When in 2005 the newly appointed CEO to Sony – Howard Stringer (an Englishman who had led Sony’s North American operations) – made his first strategy speech in [...]

In today’s digital world there is an increasing spectrum of ways to connect with each other digitally: virtual groups and teams, communities of practice, zoom meetings to name just a few. As a result, it is difficult to imagine work getting done without harnessing the power of networks in our organizations. However, when it comes to organizational culture, companies have a tendency to under utilize the power of their networks. The abstract nature of culture may be one reason why this dynamic component of culture is underestimated. Transforming a culture is a difficult enough challenge for CEOs and leaders in [...]

I recently read a story which merits retelling . It is a powerful story about how an unwavering focus on a specific value can help to turn a company around. The year was 1987. The company was the A luminum Company of America otherwise known as Alcoa. The business results in the last few years had not been good. A new CEO was being brought on board to see if the ship could be turned around. That new CEO was Paul O’Neill – a former government bureaucrat. The investment community did not know too much about him, so when he [...]

Fighting Ignorance with a Fact-Based Worldview

Fighting Ignorance with a Fact-Based Worldview

I would like to reflect  on food for thought which I received from a DGUV International Strategy Conference on Safety and Health at Work where I was serving to facilitate a portion of the event. A comparison with a survey from the Handelsblatt confirms that we are living in a world of a surprising and very disturbing paradox.  From a global perspective, the state of human well-being has never been so good as it is now AND not since the 1930s have people’s views of the future been so bleak. The opening speaker of the conference was Matthias Horx of [...]

Weißbierpils - a metaphor for innovation

Weißbierpils - a metaphor for innovation

What is innovation? …AND how can we better foster innovation in our organizations? A recent trip in the Bavarian countryside provided me with a wonderfully simple example of what innovation is and what it takes to make it happen. As I was driving back to Munich after an extended business trip in the north of Germany, I stopped for dinner at a charming and modestly simple local restaurant in the town of Amerdingen. The weather was warm enough on this early autumn day to permit sitting outside on the terrace. Meticulously taken care of was the garden where benches invited [...]

True Change comes from within

True Change comes from within

The influence of over 300 years of traditional thinking patterns is being swept out faster than we think. It’s happening right now, step-by-step…Our blog The Ensemble Enabler aspires to explore this shift in thinking and what its means for all of us – both in the world of business and our daily lives. Each blog post of the The Ensemble Enabler will explore the “shifting sands” of our challenging and complex world by sharing stories and insights about organizational culture and its networks, their impact and importance. Our aim is to have each of our blog posts add a “grain [...]