Election fever is currently a global phenomenon. European and Indian elections have already taken place – with UK, French, and US Presidential elections now in full cry. And at a time when politics is becoming increasingly polarized, probably the only thing we can all agree on is that almost everyone will have an opinion on this topic!

It was only last week that I overheard a heated debate outside my local supermarket, and it got me thinking about the fact that as we edge closer to voting day, tensions are likely to heat up in all aspects of life – including the workplace.  

However, if employers are proactively addressing conflicts stemming from political differences and promoting open communication and mutual understanding, they can help maintain a respectful and inclusive work environment for all employees throughout this period and beyond.


So, what can help in managing colleagues within a business when their political views are not aligned, and their point of view is strong?

  • Respect Differences – encourage an environment of mutual respect and tolerance for diverse opinions. Remind your team that it’s okay to have different political views as long as they are expressed respectfully.
  • Focus on Common Goals – remind colleagues of the shared goals and values that bring your team together. Encourage everyone to focus on work-related objectives rather than engaging in political debates that may lead to conflict.
  • Set Clear Boundaries – make it clear that political discussions should not interfere with work productivity or create a hostile work environment. Outline guidelines for discussing sensitive topics in a professional manner in a designated neutral space if they feel the need to do so (and this should be outside of work).
  • Lead by Example – as a manager, demonstrate respect for differing opinions and maintain a neutral stance in political discussions. Avoid expressing your own political views in the workplace to prevent bias.
  • Encourage Open Dialogue – ensure you have a psychologically safe space for colleagues to express their concerns or feelings about the political climate. Encourage constructive conversations that promote understanding and empathy.
  • Provide Support – if tensions escalate or conflicts arise due to political differences, step in to mediate and provide support to help resolve the situation. A neutral third party, such as a manager or HR representative, can facilitate these discussions.
  • Promote Diversity and Inclusion – emphasise the value of diversity in the workplace and the importance of creating an inclusive environment where all voices are heard and respected, regardless of political beliefs.
  • Encourage Respectful Communication – remind employees to engage in respectful dialogue and to listen to each other’s viewpoints without resorting to personal attacks or heated arguments.
  • Provide Training – offer training on conflict resolution and communication skills to help employees navigate disagreements constructively. This can empower them to address conflicts in a positive and collaborative manner.
  • Reinforce Company Values – remind employees of the company’s values and policies that promote diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect. Emphasize the importance of maintaining a positive work environment free of discrimination or harassment.
  • Address Inappropriate Behaviour – political discussions that lead to harassment, discrimination, or other inappropriate behaviour should be addressed promptly according to company policies and procedures. Employees should understand that such behaviour is not tolerated in the workplace.
  • HR Support – if conflicts persist or escalate, encourage employees and managers to ask the HR department to provide guidance and support in resolving the issues. Highlight how we can offer interventions, mediation services, and additional resources to address workplace conflicts effectively.

Navigating the tensions that politics can bring, as well as the stresses that accompany it, requires an approach that is both proactive and compassionate. By ensuring that company values remain promoted, as well as a culture of respect and belonging, employers will be able to effectively support their people and avoid any blows to productivity and engagement.

To discuss how we can help weave inclusion and belonging into your company culture, please get in touch with me at therese@orgshakers.com

A third of executives say they would leave their organization if it requires employees to return to the office, compounding HR’s challenge of retaining a strong leadership team, according to a recent Gartner report.

The flight risk is concerning because, according to a 2023 Gartner survey of 520 HR leaders across a number of industries and regions, 80% of CHROs do not think they have a deep list of possible replacements for senior roles.

“If a mandate is put in place and a lot of executives leave, it’s a huge risk not to have a strong bench to fill those roles,” says Caitlin Duffy, research director in Gartner’s human resources practice. “That’s because it cascades down and impacts all the levels below and can be difficult to manage.”

Read the full story here: https://hrexecutive.com/why-mandated-rto-could-lead-to-massive-executive-departures/?oly_enc_id=4235F9720301H5Y

In the latest episode of Dr. Jim Kanichirayil’s podcast, Engaging Leadership, OrgShakers’ very own Brittany Burton sat down with him at the HR Transform in Las Vegas to delve into the nuances of talent strategy within high-growth organizations.

Brittany hones in on the importance of recognizing and nurturing emergent leaders within a company, especially in the context of start-ups. She discusses how identifying and developing these individuals is essential for innovation and growth, emphasizing the personalized nature of effective talent development.

Listen to the full episode below:

You’re Coaching Whom?

Here’s how it started…

With March being Women’s History Month, at the beginning of the month I was chatting with a colleague and we thought about how amazing it would be to have had the chance to coach a famous woman from history. What an experience it could be to understand what drove them, understand their thinking behind their major decisions, and more importantly, to help guide them to be even more impactful and see how a coaching relationship might have informed how they chose to lead. How might it have accelerated or expanded their trajectory?

The more we played with this idea, I found it difficult to choose someone – because I would want to be sure the facts were accurate, that I didn’t miss key events in their life that informed who they were as a leader, and that I didn’t offend anyone! Then we explored the idea of choosing a fictional character, and suddenly it felt easier – much more license to play.  So, this is how we landed on Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series…

What if Hermione Granger had an executive coach? How might that have impacted her trajectory and the way she chose to lead and make a difference in her world?

Here are some caveats…

The purpose of this blog is to have fun reading the imagined coaching conversation, and to provide a setting for you to reflect on the same questions that I pose to Hermione. While you are enjoying the story, please take the time to think through the questions for yourself.  Hopefully, you will gain new insights about yourself as a leader and discover new perspectives that can help propel you forward to discover your path to bold and extraordinary leadership.

Here’s some context…

Hermione is a Muggle-born witch – that is, unlike most of her witch and wizard peers, she did not grow up with magical parents, but rather two human (or Muggle) ones. She did not learn she was a witch until she was accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at age eleven. However, despite Hermione discovering her magic later than the average wizard, she is known as one of the most capable and intelligent witches of her year. She was often bullied at school and faced many microaggressions; some derogatorily called her a ‘mudblood’ because of her non-magical heritage, others called her a ‘know-it-all’ as a result of her intellect and status as the best academically.  Hermione often showed up believing she knew best and wanted to control the situation, but after befriending Harry and Ron in her first year and developing a fierce loyalty to them as the years went on, we see her ‘controlling style’ begin to loosen as she realises that sometimes rules can be bent and broken when they are unjust. As we navigate her coaching engagement, we will begin to see a theme of standing up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves as a key motivator in Hermione’s actions.

The following is my first (imagined) session with a young, twenty-something Hermione, fresh out of Hogwarts, just starting her career at the Ministry of Magic and still with an exciting journey ahead of her. I have done my best (with the help of some Potterheads) to capture what I believe Hermione would think and feel during this time in her life, but as a disclaimer, this is fictional! More avid Potter fans may think she would respond differently. I welcome your feedback!

Let’s get started!…

For expediency, assume we have covered the coaching goals, expectations, and confidentiality conversation.

COACH:

Hermione, how are you today? I’m honoured to partner with you on this journey and begin our coaching relationship.

HERMIONE:

Thank you, I’m excited too. Although I must say I’m a little bit nervous. I don’t quite know what to expect.

COACH:

Thank you for letting me know, Hermione. Don’t worry, we’re in this together, and this is your time.  This is an opportunity for you to better understand who you are as a leader, what motivates you, how you process information and make decisions, and how others see you.

Over the course of our engagement, we will work together to help you discover the conditions that you need in order to thrive, how you get in your own way to achieve your goals, how you communicate effectively or not, how you’re most comfortable engaging with people, and how you can be more proactive to own your unique talents and gifts to express them in the most effective way and deliver the impact that you want to see. 

I also want you to get a clearer understanding on what you really want to do and how you want to go about achieving it.

I know this is a lot. We will take our time and layer the process to build upon your insights and discoveries about yourself. I am confident that you are up for the challenge. Does this make sense?

HERMIONE:

This sounds really exciting. I’m eager to get started.

COACH:

Fantastic! So, I’m going to start by asking you a couple of reflection questions. I don’t want you to overthink them, just tell me what comes to mind, there’s no judgment. If I were to ask your classmates, colleagues, and friends to describe you and what they value most about you, what do you think that they would share with me?

HERMIONE:

Right, okay. So, they would say that I am smart, and that I can think quickly under pressure. That I’m very loyal, too, hopefully. And when I see something that doesn’t seem fair to me, they would say that I latch on to it to figure out ways to make it better.

COACH:

That’s great. And what else do you think they might share?

HERMIONE:

Well, they would probably say sometimes I can be annoying because I’m so smart, but they would also feel like they could ask me anything because I will likely have an answer. They would also say that I have a really good heart and care for people, and that I am quite determined once I set my mind to something that I care about.

COACH:

Is there anything that you wish that they would say about you that they may not think of?

HERMIONE:

Well, I suppose I wish people would not misinterpret me having the answers as me trying to be better than them. I’m just trying to help solve problems and keep us all safe. I can admit that when I was first starting out at Hogwarts, I did feel the need to prove myself. But I just wanted to be seen as an equal, and I thought that making sure I knew all my classes back to front would mean I would fit in, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. I was bullied in my younger years at school, for being a ‘know-it-all’ and a ‘goody-two-shoes’. It wasn’t too severe, and I always tried to brush it off and act like I didn’t care, but of course I did. I remember crying in the bathroom when I was in my first year because I overheard Ron, of all people, calling me a ‘nightmare’. I can laugh about it now, but at the time it really upset me. It made me feel very alone. But even when Ron and Harry made fun of me, they were the ones that saved me when I was attacked by the troll. Funny how my lowest point also became the moment the three of us would become real friends.

But yes, sorry, I got a bit off track there. The point is I just didn’t want to be judged for my background as a Muggle-born. I just wanted to be recognised for who I was. I don’t think the boys ever noticed how hard it was for me to keep a brave and strong front so that they could continue to rely on me.

COACH:

I think that’s very insightful, Hermione. Thank you for sharing. Let me ask you, thinking about what is most important to you, what do you love to improve and have input in?

HERMIONE:

I care about my friends. They may have thought I was a nightmare at first, but they still didn’t hesitate to save me from a troll. I care about finding ways to help people that can’t help themselves, and I want them to know that they can count on me. I get very frustrated when I see things that I think are unjust or when people are being treated unfairly. I want to help make it better, to protect them and lift them up.

COACH:

These are wonderful attributes. Let’s talk a bit more about when you say, “help people that can’t help themselves”. What is happening that causes you to get frustrated?  What do you see or what is going on that signals this reaction? How does it make you feel?

Try to think of some examples about how you approach these situations. Also, while you are thinking about examples, I would like you to reflect on when this happens, is this based on your own assessment, or is it based on information that you’ve gotten from whoever you think is being treated unfairly?

Take your time to think through these questions. Maybe as you share some examples with me, more insight will emerge for you, and we can explore this with a bit more granularity.

HERMIONE:

Yes, okay. Let me think…the first time I tried to improve something I was just fourteen. I discovered that Hogwarts had house-elves working in their kitchens, being forced to work without any pay, and just generally were treated like slaves. I hated how unfair it was, and hated the fact that so many wizards believed that house-elves were happy to do their bidding. They had never known anything else, never been offered any sense of freedom, and I wanted to help show them that they could have more, and that they deserved more than just a life of servitude.

So, I put together the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (SPEW), but I could never get any support behind it. I still would like to lead this. I think I have always wanted to be able to make a difference in my world, and I believe I can do that if I knew how to get the support that I need to help make things happen. I haven’t had many instances of formally leading people, but that’s part of the reason why I wanted to come here and work with you. I think I could have what it takes to be a good leader, I’m just not sure how to start taking those steps. I will say, from that first attempt, I believed so much in what I was saying that I think I forgot I needed others to believe in me and my cause too.

COACH:

You have good insight here. And as a leader one of the most important skills is to communicate to others in a way that sets a clear vision, that articulates a clear ‘why’, and is conveyed in a way that resonates for them. We will focus on effective communication and engaging key stakeholders when we build your Impact Plan. Another attribute you mentioned earlier was that you care about finding ways to help people and knowing that they can count on you. Can you tell me more about this? 

HERMIONE:

I quite like being relied on to be the thinker of the group, and I believe that Harry and Ron rely on me to be prepared for all possibilities, even if they don’t realise they are doing it.

I think it’s about knowing that I have a part to play, that my role in those situations is making a difference for others. I suppose you could say I like seeing the difference I make, it’s quite a rewarding feeling. I suppose my deciding to leave Hogwarts in my final year to help Harry find the Horcruxes is an example of this.

COACH:

Can you tell me more about that?

HERMIONE:

After we discovered that You-Know-Who had split his soul up and hid them in different objects as Horcruxes, I insisted on helping Harry to locate and destroy them. So did Ron, of course. But this meant having to leave school. Even though I loved learning, I knew Harry needed me, even if he never asked directly. And I believed that I needed to be there. I think things might have gone differently if I never decided to go. 

And, as I think about this, I realise that as I’ve gotten older, I feel more confident in myself and my abilities. When I made the bold decision to leave school for the year, I knew it was a risk, but it really taught me a lot about myself and how I enjoy being someone people can rely on, which is what inspired me to go back to school, complete my studies, and apply to work in the Ministry of Magic. I knew that if I ever wanted to make real and lasting change, it would be by doing it at a legislative level.

COACH:

You were very brave to step away from your studies to help Harry in his quest. I would like to ask, before we close our first session, you spoke about your job at the Ministry and wanting to make change.  

What are the most important changes that you want to be a part of? Once we are clear on this, we can explore the most effective ways that you, with your preferred style and your talents, can make the most impact. 

HERMIONE:

What’s most important right now is my work on my SPEW campaign to get better treatment for house-elves. I learnt a lot from that experience back when I was 14 and it is helping me now. I haven’t dived in all by myself or tried to start before I am able to handle the responsibility. I did that with my first attempt and didn’t quite realise all the leadership skills needed to lead such a change. I need to work on rallying people behind a cause, and I also need to take the time to work with the house-elves to make sure they have a voice in the campaign. As much as I want their betterment, it’s ultimately about what they want, too.

Even though right now my job ranking is low, I know it is a path to make an impact. And I know I could do more if given the chance. One of the reasons I came to the Ministry is that I believe that the wizarding world can be a better place, and I want to be a part of making that happen. In some sense, I think my academic aptitude would be helpful here. Transferable, even. The Ministry employs some of the best and brightest witches and wizards. They have been alive a lot longer than me, but so much has changed since they first came around. I want to bring a fresh perspective. 

COACH:

I think the fact that you are able to look back on your previous attempts and begin to see the areas that need improving is going to make our coaching sessions that much more effective, so, well done.  

Hermione, we covered a lot of ground today. What I would like you to do until we meet again next time, is to reflect on all that we talked about. Write down your answers to the questions we discussed today in more detail and see if you begin to identify any patterns or themes. Then when we meet next, we will dig more deeply into your responses. It is important that we take the time to build a solid understanding of who you are as a leader, what motivates you, and how you respond and interact in different situations. This will help us identify your strengths to lean into, as well as where you might want to focus your development. We want you to strengthen and refine the leader that you want to be so you can achieve your goals and aspirations, not what others want you to be. How does that sound? Do you have any questions?

HERMIONE:

No questions. If I’m honest it has been a bit overwhelming, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I’m excited to continue working together. I feel like I am already learning a lot about myself.

COACH:

That’s great to hear, and I appreciate your deep thinking today, and for being so willing to dive right in. We can probably attribute that to your determination and your love of learning! I will send you the key questions we discussed to help provide a structure for your reflection. Thank you and have a fun and wonderful week.

HERMIONE:

Thank you!


Keep an eye out for Part Two of our series where we re-unite with Hermione in her second coaching session and begin to gain a better understanding of the crucible moments in Hermione’s life which shaped who she is as a leader.

And, in the meantime, click here to download a copy of the key coaching questions she was asked. Reflect on them and answer them for yourself!

If you would like to discuss the coaching we offer in more detail, please get in touch with me at Lisa.finkelstein@orgshakers.com or reach out through our website.

Inspired by Black History Month, we have chosen to read The Business of Race: How to Create and Sustain an Antiracist Workplace and Why It’s Actually Good for Business by Gina Greenlee and Margaret H. Greenberg.

Gina is a Black business leader with more than thirty years of experience in organizational development, project management, communications, and training. Margaret is a White executive coach and president of The Greenberg Group, a consulting firm that coaches executives and their teams to lead large-scale organizational change. Together, they have pooled their vast amount of knowledge of business and psychology to create a practical guide for employers and employees about how to address race in the workplace.

The core message of this book is that you can’t solve what you can’t talk about, and there is a power in the fact that the book is able to examine the delicate nature of talking about race from both a Black and a White person’s perspective, resulting in an honest and necessary read that really digs deep into the topic.

There has long been a taboo around talking about race at work, and in their book, Gina and Margaret highlight that organizations must be readying themselves on an individual and enterprise level before diving headfirst into such an important conversation. The individual work includes raising our awareness and creating new ways of being, and the enterprise work focuses on how employers must develop and implement strategies, policies, and initiatives to reimagine a racially equitable workplace. But these things are not ‘programs’ that can just be completed swiftly … they are journeys.

This book acts as a guide for starting this journey. It offers a number of practical ways that businesses – regardless of their size – can make positive, sustainable changes that will help to bring more racial diversity, inclusion, and equity into the workplace.

The reader is offered a range of tools to help them start these conversations, comprising a mix of new learning tools such as fostering a growth mindset, with more familiar tools such as strategic planning and project management. Woven amongst these are interviews from more than two-dozen business professionals across diverse industries, fields and organizational levels that bring voices to the challenges and opportunities businesses face every day.

And while this book offers accessible routes into discussing racial inequity at work, it is also honest about the fact that accessibility should not be confused with ease … this is hard work. But with the right set of tools, alongside strategic support from your HR team, employers can start having important conversations about race in the workplace.

If you would like to discuss the services that OrgShakers can offer with helping fuel your diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, please get in touch with us here.

And to get your hands on a copy of The Business of Race, head over here for the US and here for the UK.

What is the office actually for?

What was once seen as a logical and efficient way of working has now been brought into question by the sudden and mass shift to remote and hybrid work.

So, to work out where we’re going – we first need to rewind.

The ‘office’ has always been in a shifting state, all the way back to its conception in the 15th century, where medieval monks created ‘scriptoriums’ to copy manuscripts. From that point onwards these proto-offices slowly evolved as the introduction of artificial light, telephones, typewriters, elevators, and computers eventually spawned sky-scraping office buildings which defined the urban landscape.  

Then BOOM! Lockdown. And everything changed.

What had been a slow and gradual evolution was jolted in a radically different direction. Those that could, worked from home. And for many of these individuals, working life became more productive, and more rewarding, to the point where today nine in ten jobseekers say hybrid work is now as important as financial benefits.

These new expectations mean that employers now need to be considering how they can most effectively use their office space to optimize the productivity of their people when they are in work – while also meeting their wellbeing needs when they are working remotely.

The best way to do this? By focusing on policy, place, and purposeful leaders:

Policy – Clarity is key when it comes to creating policies for hybrid and remote work, and so is the consideration of time. Your policies will outline when you expect people to be in, and when they are permitted the freedom to choose whether they use the office or work from home.

How flexible are your working hours? Are there core working hours that everyone needs to be available for? Being clear about what your policies are and why you have chosen them is important when it comes to building trust and loyalty with your staff, as well as lending to your attractiveness as a company.

Place – Different people are going to want/need to use the office for different reasons. For some, they may want to be in everyday as they cannot find a quiet space to focus at home. For others, they may only want to come in once a week, as they can do their individual work from home but enjoy face-to-face contact for more collaborative tasks. The point of this is that you have to be able to offer a place that can accommodate for both.

Will you have a Superdesk in one area to encourage collaboration and cubicle spaces for those who need to concentrate? Or will you try and adopt a more creative approach, with nap pods and sofas scattered about?

There is no ‘best way’ to do it – a recent study found that actively trying to make creative office spaces could be stifling creativity, whilst another discovered that changing from cubicles to open-plan saw a 70% drop in face-to-face interactions.

It all depends on your people’s needs; let them guide how your office space takes shape, and this way, it will ensure the optimization of their productivity.

Purposeful Leaders – Your leaders will play a huge role in bringing these policies to life –  as well as ensuring that the office space you have is delivering a return on your real estate investment.

If you decide that you want all employees to come in once a week, then it falls to team leaders and line-managers to highlight why people should adhere to this. If you force your staff to come in only for them to do the quiet, concentrated, individual work they can, and would most likely prefer to, do from home, then you are not optimizing the space around you. These days should be dedicated to collaborative tasks, to nourishing the company culture and strengthening the relationships between colleagues. If this is done correctly, people will stop viewing coming into the office as a chore and actually start wanting to be there, but your policies can only be as good as your managerial facilitation.

***********

Employers need to accept that hybrid and remote work is, for the majority of workers, desirable and beneficial, and begin leveraging this opportunity to optimize productivity rather than seeing it as an obstacle standing in the way of ‘the old way of work’.

The purpose of the office is changing, so now it’s a matter of leading this change rather than being led by it. And this is where we can help – we can assist in optimizing your organizational effectiveness when it comes to hybrid work, helping to craft policies and coach leaders to ensure that your company’s individual needs are met, and simultaneously align with the needs of your workforce.

To continue this conversation, you can either head over to our contact page, or reach out to me directly at andy@orgshakers.com

As we counted down to the new year in December, we adopted the theme of looking forwards. What are the essential topics of focus for employers to be considering in 2024?

Well, in case you missed any of them, here’s a summary of our essentials:

  • The Disability Pay Gap – an analysis from the Trades Union Congress discovered that disabled workers effectively work for free for the last 47 days of the year due to the sizable pay gap between disabled and non-disabled workers. With 17.8% of England’s population being disabled, working towards closing this gap should be a priority for organizations so to attract new, diverse talent and to plug talent shortages that continue to effect employers – read the full piece here.
  • Decision Intelligence – for our monthly reading recommendation, we recommended a book that all employers should get their hands on: Decision Intelligence by Thorsten Heilig and Ilhan Scheer. It acts as a practical and comprehensible guide for professionals who are navigating the decision-making and AI landscape by exploring the intersection of behavioral science, data science, and technological innovation. Check out our full summary here!
  • Weaving AI into Learning and Development – Access Partnership’s survey found that 93% of employers expect to be using generative AI in the workplace in the next five years. It has therefore become an essential point of focus for employers to be weaving AI-centric learning and development (L&D) opportunities into their L&D strategies – read the full piece here.
  • Leadership Legacy – with the average turnover rate for leadership roles at an unprecedented 18%, now is the best time for leaders to take a step back from thinking about where they are going next and, instead, take a moment to consider what it is they will be leaving in their wake. The impression that they leave, and the legacy of their practices, can make a big difference to the health of a company – so how do they want to be remembered? Read the full piece here.
  • The HR Fundamentals – Our Founder David Fairhurst identified four key areas of focus that he believes are essential for HR and employers to be preparing for in order to ensure organization sustainability:
    • The Workforce Cliff – the first is the Workforce Cliff, which predicted that around this time, we would start to have more jobs than we had people to fill them. To avoid the cliff’s looming edge, employers must be expanding their search and tapping into all pools of talent…read the full piece here.
    • Humans and Technology – The second point of focus will be the relationship between humans and technology. As organizations begin to introduce generative AI into their workplaces, HR will play a pivotal role in supporting these new technological co-worker relationships in order to successfully optimize its capabilities. Read more here!
    • Redefining Place and Time – With the mass adoption of remote and hybrid working styles, we are seeing the previous boundaries of time differences and geographical distances evaporate, opening companies up to a new, global pool of talent…and to embracing the concept of asynchronous work. Read on for the full piece.
    • The End of Jobs – in order to successfully respond to the rapid increase in the pace of organizational change, employers will begin to recognize that a more flexible and responsive methodology is needed to keep up. This will take shape in the form of adopting a skills-based approach to managing work and workers – read the full piece here.

If you would like to discuss the services we offer in regards to these essentials – or wider areas of HR – please get in touch with us.

With the average turnover rate for leadership roles at an unprecedented 18%, now is the time when these new leaders should briefly step back from thinking about where they are going next and, instead, take a moment to consider what they will be leaving behind.

What leadership impression will you be leaving in your wake? Are you creating policies, practices, and a work environment that will persevere … or will your time as leader be a flash in the pan that moves the organization from A to B rather than A to Z?

Think of it as leaving a footprint. Is your goal to leave a footprint set in stone, that will remain long after you have left … or do you plan to leave a footprint in the sand that will wash away with the tide to make way for a new leader?

It may sound strange to advise a leader who has just started in their role to be preparing for when they exit. However, if you have a good understanding of what you want to achieve and what legacy you would like to leave behind, you can significantly increase your chances of success by being intentional from day one.

So it’s important to ask yourself: How do I want to be remembered?

Inspirational and effective leaders create a roadmap of what they would like to achieve and what they plan to leave behind. You don’t have to know when you might leave, but by adopting this mindset you can consistently work towards a set of goals that guide you in achieving the intended results. 

This awareness also influences your leadership style. Leaders who can understand and forward-think enough to craft the impression they leave often harness highly effective people management skills. For example, being intentionally vulnerable and honest with your team, where appropriate, minimizes miscommunication and encourages teammates to work together.

Think back to the last time you had an off day (as we all do!). First, assume you did not communicate this to your team; your reactions could send ripples through the company, derailing the efforts you already made to build a well-functioning team. You could be remembered for your temper, abrasive style, or withdrawal from the team. Then imagine an off day where you clued-in your colleagues and direct reports. They knew from the beginning that if you were acting somewhat out of character, it was you and not them. They were not to blame for your behavior, and your honest vulnerability could instantly minimize the risk of negative ripples through the team and company. In this scenario, you could be remembered for your integrity, teamwork, and courage when under pressure.

The bottom line is that it is your decision how you want to be perceived and remembered. One effective way to start is to imagine how you would perceive yourself if you were an employee reporting to you – would you be happy with yourself as a leader? What would you remember about your leadership style?

In every leadership class I have facilitated, participating leaders turn the conversation to a discussion about ineffective or toxic bosses. A significant disruptive force of turnover comes from a leader who leaves a cracked or broken team in their wake. Leaders can avoid this outcome and, instead, be remembered for something beneficial or inspirational by being intentional from the get-go.

If you would like to discuss the coaching we offer to help you plan your legacy roadmap from day one, please get in touch with me at amanda@orgshakers.com

For this month’s reading recommendation, we picked up a copy of Thorsten Heilig and Ilhan Scheer’s new book, Decision Intelligence: Transform Your Team and Organization with AI-Driven Decision-Making.

Thorsten is the Co-Founder and CEO of Paretos, a company with access to cutting-edge AI technologies that use Decision Intelligence to equip organizations to independently tackle complex challenges and gain a significant competitive advantage without needing any prior knowledge on data science.

Co-author Ilhan is a Managing Director at Accenture, a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud, and security.

Together, they have authored a book which offers a practical and comprehensible guide for professionals who are navigating the decision-making landscape. Thorsten and Ilhan expertly explore the intersection of behavioral science, data science, and technological innovation and present the latest technologies and methodologies that are shaping these dynamic fields, highlighting how they can play vital roles when making business decisions.

As AI continues to become increasingly popular as a business tool, this book perfectly captures just how instrumental data and AI are in making informed future decisions by harmonizing human and business considerations across its five key points of coverage:

  • An exploration into the inner workings of AI models, and how to optimize these to tackle business challenges and unlock novel opportunities.
  • A business-centric introduction to decision intelligence, exploring why traditional decision-making strategies have become obsolete and how to transition effectively into decision-intelligence.
  • The evolutionary journey of Decision Intelligence, tracing its roots from analytics to modern techniques like process mining and robotic process automation.
  • An examination of decision intelligence at an organizational level, encompassing agile transformation, transparent organizational culture, and the pivotal role of psychological safety in facilitating innovative decision-making within modern companies.  
  • An overview of why – and where – AI still needs human expertise and how to incorporate this topic into daily planning and decision making.

In the age of working smart, organizations who are able to effectively integrate AI into the fabric of their company are the ones who are going to be able to best optimize its use. As the corporate world becomes increasingly digital, this book is a great way of keeping in stride with these sweeping technological changes.

To grab a copy of Decision Intelligence, head over here if you’re in the US and here if you’re in the UK.

And if you would like to discuss how we can help shape your HR strategy to seize the opportunities presented by AI technologies, please get in touch with us!

A lot of the time (but not always!), skepticism is construed as managing risk.

Personally, I believe that skepticism has become a mindset that has gained major footing in American culture. It’s like a screen that colors our daily sentiment.  We are weighed down by it, and a lot of the time will approach a new situation with a level of negative skepticism as a defence mechanism so to avoid meaningful change.

But I think what’s key to note here is that it’s fine to be skeptical on a topic. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Great intellects are skeptical,”.  However, it can be detrimental to be a skeptical person. This mindset will only hold someone back from their potential, their ability to grow, and their ability to be their best self.

Whilst middle managers may lean ever so slightly towards the skepticism end of the risk management scale while they develop broader situational development, executives should be in risk management mode to best lead the organization and their teams.

This is about incorporating a healthy dose of risk management when making decisions and strategizing to push the company to a new level. It’s about understanding how to navigate compliance and regulatory, protecting company assets, understanding economic outcomes, and communicating plausible scenarios. It’s not about apprehension to change, distrust in the new perspectives, reluctance to evaluate new opportunities, and being suspicious of the unknown. Managing risk versus skepticism is often the difference in making inclusive decisions and creating a culture for broad, needed change.

If we were to apply this to a chief financial officer’s (CFO) role, being seen as skeptical will mean that the most creative and innovative ideas will go around them. It is likely that they won’t be brought into the decision-making process if their lens is always a skeptical and pessimistic one; they will be pushed away from the decision table. To be a good partner to these potential innovations, they have to have a healthy sense of risk management. This means covering potential blind spots without stunting innovative growth opportunities.

However, just like being too far on the skeptical side of this scale can hold you back, being too far on the optimistic side can also have drawbacks – most notably, making decisions without considering the risks at all.

Finding a balance between these two will make for an executive who is managing risk while also taking risks, as without any risk there is no reward.

If you would like to discuss how we can help coach an effective risk management strategy to your executive team, please get in touch with me at ken.merritt@orgshakers.com

Stories of ghosts, ghouls, spirits, and paranormal activity are not hard to come by in the modern world. The media is inundated with gothic movies, tv shows, and literature, and for many people a good ghost story gets their spine tingling.

However, while the idea of ghosts may be entertainment for some, for others, the concept of apparitions, hauntings, and possessions are very real. According to a 2019 IPSOS poll, 46% of Americans believe in ghosts (a percentage that has increased by 14% since 2005). That’s almost half of the entire country.

So I pose you this scenario: what do you do, as an HR professional, if someone in the company believes the workplace is haunted?

Belief is a very powerful force; whether you believe in ghosts or not, for someone that does believe in them, you have to accept that as their reality. This means that while their fear may be intangible, the psychological effects that their fear will have on them are very real.

And there are many instances of hauntings causing chaos in the workplace to prove this. In Orlando, a Japanese restaurateur backed out of his lease because they heard that the premises were allegedly haunted by ghosts and apparitions. The landlord even offered to exorcise the building, but they still refused, and this resulted in a messy court case.

In another occurrence at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington D.C., many workers reported instances of seeing a woman’s face in a third-floor window. They would also hear a female voice call out their name, followed by footsteps running down the hall – on one occasion they even found a co-workers visiting child talking to an invisible woman in the third-floor conference room. One worker had to quit his job because of this alleged supernatural torment, as he kept finding the photos from his office walls neatly arranged on the floor every morning.

There was even one case of a law firm’s office building being haunted, which lead them to move to a newer building where the unexplained phenomena (keyboards typing by themselves, files shuffling in cabinets in empty rooms) finally ceased.

Whether these hauntings were truly paranormal or not, the effects of them are undeniably real: legal issues, lowered engagement and productivity, loss of staff, and the costs of relocation. These are all big red flags in the corporate world, and so regardless of what has caused them, HR is responsible for managing them accordingly.

What we’re trying to get at here is that whether they believe it or not, an employer has to take these things seriously in order to manager the very real effects that these beliefs have. In countries that are less westernized, the belief of ghosts and spirits is much more prevalent, and so having to deal with a haunted workplace may be much more commonplace somewhere like China, where they still celebrate their Hungry Ghost Festival to avoid the wrath of ghosts. Similarly in Mexico, they celebrate el Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), where families will welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives.

Belief and superstition can run deep – ever find yourself knocking on wood or crossing your fingers? – and so it is important that these instances are taken seriously and handled expertly so to avoid any of the disruptions that were listed above.

And if that means having to be a Ghostbuster, then grab your overalls.

After recently gaining my Prism Certification from SurePeople, I was struck by this thought: how do leaders who are particularly motivated by external validation bring their best?

Being recognized for one’s efforts is something that a lot of us enjoy, regardless of our position in a company. Not only is it nice to be validated, but when someone recognizes and rewards our efforts, our brains actually release dopamine which makes us feel happiness and satisfaction.

When a leader thrives from external affirmation, however, recognition can become a bit trickier. As a society, we expect leaders to offer recognition and rewards to their team rather than receive them. Leadership is often lonely, and for those leaders who are extrinsically motivated, this can be an even harder challenge to face. The natural energy derived from recognition may no longer be available.

This begs the question, is being an externally motivated leader a good thing? Let’s take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of this leadership aspect:

Pros

  • When a leader is validated by the team’s success, they are likely to focus on unique retention strategies to maintain the team they have. Being externally validated could mean they will make the effort to know their team members on an individual level, which can be a positive cycle that improves retention rates.
  • When a leader is motivated extrinsically, it could mean they will constantly strive to achieve things that allow them to continue receiving praise in their desired form (whether this be materially or socially). This mindset can promote consistent innovation and productivity and could become hardwired into teams so they constantly push the limits of creativity.

Cons

  • When a leader seeks validation through the team’s approval, this can result in imbalanced decision making. There may be times where the leader makes a decision based on what they believe the team wants the outcome to be rather than the interests of the organization. While this approach can supply immediate validation and motivation, it can also have negative knock-on effects later down the line.
  • A leader who is always striving to do more, achieve more, and be better is a great thing, but there is a balance to be struck. Pushing themselves and their team too hard to satisfy these extrinsic motivational needs can result in burnout and plummeting employee morale and productivity levels.
  • External affirmation can sometimes be transactional. For example, a leader may put more effort into employees who offer affirmation and validation. This can lead to some staff members perceiving the leader has favorites, potentially fracturing team relationships.

It’s a fine line to walk. On the one hand, if you are a leader who is motivated by affirmation, you may be a driver for innovation and have fantastic interpersonal relationships with your team. There are organic boundaries, however, that must exist between leaders and their direct reports to maintain an effective level of professionalism and ensure all members of the team feel evenly valued and included. Sometimes, needing this affirmation can blind a leader and result in some of the drawbacks outlined above.

If you feel that you are a leader who is extrinsically motivated, I think the most important strategy to enhance effectiveness is to establish balance. There are plenty of ways to feel validated and recognised for your contributions – whether this be through your team excelling, through getting your name published externally, or receiving recognition from stakeholders – but as a leader, you also need to have a sense of self-affirmation.

Working with a coach is a great way to find this balance. They can help identify what energizes you and how to effectively “recharge.” This allows you to maintain healthy boundaries with your team while still being approachable and considerate.

If you would like to discover your motivators and discuss how to best leverage them to improve your effectiveness as a leader, please get in touch with me at amanda@orgshakers.com

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