Tag: Leadership Development

Recession Rubbernecking

Posted on 10/22/10 by Aidan

When I worked in London and drove around that horrid M25 Ring Motorway with about 100 Million other cars there used to be a term you would hear on the radio – “Rubbernecking”.

An accident on the motorway in say the clockwise direction would cause those going anti-clockwise to slow down to see what was going on on the other side. This would cause a ripple effect back through the traffic and cause it to slow and stop leading to incredible delays for up to 50 miles.

A friend of mine – a very intelligent fella called Alan Brown in Brown and Root Vickers, an Engineering Consultant, used to explain it in terms of flow mechanics and to be honest I never quite understood him fully. It was something to do with too much water (traffic) in too small a space and the ripple effect backwards.

I decided to invent the term the other day – “Recession Rubbernecking” – here we are with the help of some of the media rubbernecking at Anglo-Irish Bank, at Nama, at Bond Rates and such and so forth. There are people sitting around turf fires in villages in Ireland happily prepared to discuss Bond Interest Rates and Developer “Hair Cuts” and such. We are all staring at the accident – looking for Carnage.

Well don’t !

The Accident is fascinating. But looking at it and dwelling on it is causing a backlog, a compression which is slowing everyone down and stopping the momentum needed for recovery. Businesses are not selling, banks are not lending, jobs are slow to come back. Because we all have our eye off the road in front of us.  “Lets see how the Anglo numbers affect us first”, now “lets wait for the budget”, now “lets wait to see how the interest rates…..” meanwhile six months have gone by and we are holding our breath and standing still. We need movement folks. We need energy, industry and to get where we need to go.

Turn off the radio, switch the news channel, turn over to the life and sports sections. Look past the headlines. If you do look at one of these articles – do get the facts and draw your own conclusions. Don’t look at the emotive headlines and get caught up.  Then focus on the things you CAN do to make a difference to the things that are important to you, write them down and do them.  Life is about the six inches in front of your face. Getting through this is about being here and now. In the moment if you will.  Right here Right now you have the power to affect the things you can.

Aidan Higgins

Leadership in a Crisis

Posted on 05/31/10 by Aidan

Daniel Goleman explains why Barack O’Bama is so Emotionally Intelligent. Perhaps we would like to see a little more of this in our Leaders. Developing awareness and ability to control emotions is particularly useful in a crisis. Goleman is a thought leader in this area.

Aidan Higgins

Improve your Emotional Intelligence

Posted on 02/21/10 by Aidan

I am meeting a lot of people who feel helpless to do anything in this economic onslaught.  As I say to them – “there is always something you can do” – even small things that get you rolling again.

The benefits of high Emotional Intelligence have been well catalogued. Emotional Intelligence accounts for more than 85% of exceptional achievement. While technical skills can be necessary for productivity, these are insufficient to explain the differences between high and mediocre achievers. High performers show emotional intelligence as task complexity increases.

The best leaders have found effective ways to handle their own and others emotions. Understanding the powerful role emotions play in the workplace sets great leaders apart from the rest. Also leaders emotional resonance sets the tone in the group effecting the outlook of all those around him. Having and developing high emotional Intelligence is therefore also key in the area of leadership.

What about our current economic climate? We are seeing the need more and more for Transformational (charismatic, personable, lead from the front)  rather than Transactional (work for reward only) Leadership skills. As always occurs  when things are volatile. And guess what – our friend Emotional Intelligence is even more important and more impactful on Transformational Leadership because its personality led with people skills to the fore.

So what can you do about this? Well you can improve your EQ (Emotional Quotient) through training. You can improve your Organisations EQ through training also – improving their ability to achieve what they need to achieve.

Now thats something you can do.
Talk to these guys www.adeo.ie

Aidan Higgins

Ideas Ideas Ideas

Posted on 11/29/09 by admin

I lecture at the Kemmy Business School in Limerick in Business Consulting to the postgraduate students in Entrepeneurship. Its a great program that gives budding Entrepreneurs the skills to develop their ideas into profitable businesses with an emphasis on exporting.  The course specialises in providing the education and support needed to get the idea to the next phase and in the current economic climate it is even more important to put these forward thinking business ideas into action to help stimulate economic recovery. Of course these skills also translate into Intrapreneurial skills for large businesses and some of the feedback received from those graduating confirms the benefits these skills have for the bigger organisations.

I have over the last number of years taken part in the final project presentations as a “Dragon” for the MBS’s and MBA‘s and  this year the BBS group as well.  Working this year with Ulster Bank  , Enterprise Ireland  and guest Entrepeneurs we reviewed some absolutely brilliant ideas in terms of their potential and marketability with full presentations and a display and show afterwards where each competitor demonstrated their products. Some excellent marketing and ideas made it difficult to decide the prize winners and several of the ideas were definitely candidates for immediate product launch. Feedback from the other “Dragons” was very positive also and the quality was a credit to the staff at KBS and in particular the creativity/innovation coaching.

I have been reviewing projects of this sort for a number of years at a number of Universities and I have to say this year at UL was certainly the best. Its ideas and enthusiasm we need right now and these students have them in buckets. Courses like this add real value to our country’s prospects of making a full economic recovery. I keep reminding people that Barak Obama in his inaugural address speech said “…it has been the risk-takers, the  doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women  obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward  prosperity…”

Aidan Higgins

Holistic Perspective

Posted on 09/24/09 by admin

Leaders are often able to make judgements and form opinions quickly and so give advice quickly.  This can be a blessing in turbulent times particularly. However a down side of this is sometimes missing or not appreciating others perspectives and not taking them into account when making decisions. There are overlaps here with Emotional Intelligence, Leadership in context and motivation of your team. It is particularly important to take the time, particularly for “black and white” thinkers to look at a problem as a whole and ensure you see the whole piece.

I thought this poem by American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) was illuminating. It is based on a fable which was told in India many years ago…….
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“ ‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral:

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Old wisdom but current too.

Aidan Higgins

Stay Foolish?

Posted on 07/15/09 by Aidan

Steve Jobs is well known as the creator of the Apple Mac, the iPod and the iPhone. Without formal qualifications he became a world class innovator and thinker and he is someone who has made an impact on our world. I came across this speech he made at Stanford. I was taken with his 3 key points – some elements of which are developed from other angles in this blog. Have a look and enjoy – its well worth the 15 minutes.

Decent Management?

Posted on 06/15/09 by Aidan

Some of the public sector management stories remind me of a something I came across about the battle of Balaclava in 1854. Famous for the charge of the light brigade and “the thin red line” it became a logistical nightmare. While the British soldiers were up to their waists in water and cholera in summer clothes during the Russian winter, eating their own horses and dying by the thousands, the supplies they needed to survive languished in their ships for months – just down the hill from the front line – because the paperwork had not been properly done.

Front line staff  in public sector organisations are in my experience mostly doing their best often with back end management unable to meet their needs – not because there are too few but because there are too many. And I am beginning to believe that most of these poor managers are not aware of their capabilities and how bad they are.  And their managers are not helping by filling in review forms (where reviews are done at all) in a manner which rewards mediocre performance.

Listening to people who work in some areas of the public sector there are stories of mind boggling bureaucracy and failures. Improvements are resisted by a culture where positional power is taken so seriously it becomes the target of management rather than customer service. This leads to interdepartmental barriers, territoriality and lack of joined up thinking. I often wonder how old the process are in these organisations – did they every go through the BPR’s of the 90’s and are we dealing with systems put in place over 50 years ago.

I was at a hospital clinic some time back and as often happens I and about 20 others were kept waiting in the outer area for the consultants to arrive. There was a young woman on the front desk who was constantly getting enquiries about how long people could expect to be waiting. Of course she could not help – willing as she was – because she had not been informed. So she sat there working on her computer while 20 pairs of eyes stared at her and as people got more and more annoyed due to the delay and lack of information. I could feel the stress in the room and I felt quite sorry for her. I happened to sit down beside her and I asked how often it was like this …

“Oh” she said “every clinic”.

I kindly suggested that she should get a privacy screen so she could do her work without all those eyes burning a hole in her head. She confirmed that she had in fact asked for one and it was coming.

“Really?” I asked “when did you order it”.

She replied “3 years ago….”

This is a complex problem overall and will have to be resolved because the inefficiences generated by this culture drain our countries tax revenues at a far greater rate than is recognised I believe.  A little compassion for those who work for you might be a good start.

Aidan Higgins