Open Leadership - a review by Ron Cacioppe

Did you ever feel that there something major that is happening and you don’t know if you should be part of it? Over the last few years I have watched the phenomena of Facebook, LinkedIn, Bloggs, and Tweets and wondered if there was something that I wasn’t getting. I confess I joined LinkedIn and Facebook but I seldom looked at them and being placed in a position of having to ‘accept’ or ‘ignore’ someone who wanted to be my friend wasn’t easy. But I had this gnawing feeling that there was something going on that I should know about.

When I decided to include this book in the Integral Leadership Book Forum I was a bit sceptical and wondered if this book could focus on social media and leadership and do both well. So it was pleasing to this find Open Leadership stimulating, comprehensive and very relevant to how leaders and organisations can use social media to be more open and successful. Both the conceptual aspects of open leadership and the new, practical ideas on how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs make the book very useful.

The book opens with a good story about musician, Dave Carroll, and his unfortunate incident when United Airlines damaged his guitar. Nine months later, when Carroll hadn’t made any progress being compensated for his guitar, he vented his feelings by making a music video called “United Breaks Guitars” and posted it on YouTube. Within three days, the video had over one million views, and Carroll’s song became a viral sensation. By the end of 2009, there had been over seven million views and hundreds of news stories about Carroll’s experience.”

With this story, Charlene Li lays the groundwork about the ways in which social technology has changed the shift in power, where “individuals have the ability to broadcast their views to the world.” Li defines open leadership as “having the confidence and humility to give up the need to be in control while inspiring commitment from people to accomplish goals”. Leaders accomplish this by having an open mind-set – the ability to let go of control “at the right time, in the right place, and in the right amount.” Open leadership is about new relationships with social media and new guidelines. Li suggests the following:

1. Respect that your customers and employees have power.
2. Share constantly to build trust.
3. Nurture curiosity and humility.
4. Hold openness accountable.
5. Forgive failure.

While these are common leadership ideas, what is new in this book is that it shows how to accomplish open leadership with the use of new and evolving social technologies. This book strongly suggests that leaders and companies that make social media only about marketing are missing a major opportunity. Leaders have to learn faster than their competitors and embed this knowledge in new products, services, and operational processes that create something remarkable about what you do and how you do it. These powerful social technologies are available today for leaders to listen, respond, and learn faster and more effectively than any time in our lives.

The main premise of the book is that in order for organizations to use social tools and technology, they need to be able to operate in a more open manner. Li declares open leadership to be a vital factor in whether an organisation succeeds using social media. By becoming more open, organizations will be able to build real, honest relationships with their employees, clients and vendors.

Li argues that the old ‘command and control’ structure that most organizations have used (and still use) will not work in this more open environment. The book tries to assure those who still prefer the top-down command approach with a ‘controlled’ openness approach. The book isn’t advocating the continuation of the command and control approach but puts forward processes that help shape the open environment. The reason why openness is a growing concern for businesses is the rise of social media according to Li. Social technologies have, she argues, made it easier for employees and customers to share their experiences, forcing companies to adopt a more open leadership style.

Practical Relevance: Tools, Useful Models and Examples
One of the most useful aspects of this book was the suggestion that before you start down a path of using social media, you need to define the strategic objectives of your company and then set out what you want to accomplish with social media that can contribute to your strategic objectives.

At an early stage in the book, I completed a questionnaire how much is my organisation is using social media to be open. The results made me seriously question whether we were going to be left behind without a tweet! Many readers could feel the same way. Before you decide to read this book you should be open to changing how your company uses social media. If not, you might as well sit on thumbtacks since the book will result in pain if you read it only to learn how little you are doing or what you are doing wrong.

While all leaders won’t gravitate to blogging or maintaining a presence on Facebook, Charlene gives two good examples of how some businesses have worked around this. She tells the story about Bill Marriott, the CEO of hotel chain Marriott International who started blogging in 2007. But Marriott wasn’t comfortable with using the technology and couldn’t even type so a member of the communications staff records what he wants to say, transcribes it, and posts the text and audio file on his blog. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, was concerned that blogging wouldn’t be a good fit for him so instead he tried a video blog.

The book has very good diagnostic exercises, checklists, rich examples, and a systematic approach to open leadership so that any leader with an open mindset can follow her advice and get results. There are a lot of questionnaires, audits, and checklists both in the book and available on Open Leadership Self-Assessment tools are provided so leaders can determine where they fall in the spectrum. The book also includes useful Action Plans and Open Strategy Checklists. These tools can be very useful to stimulate discussion in your organisation and to use as a benchmark for your organisation.

Li provides a number of useful concepts for social media practice and policy. For example, she describes the value of a ‘sandbox covenant’, a mutual agreement between employer and employee that social tools will be used responsibly. She argues that trusting employees with a certain degree of freedom will be met with respect and thoughtful social media use. She also provides a good guide on how to help write a social media policy and examples which can be downloaded from her website.

Li also presents a return-on-investment model for the various objectives of openness. These models are based on so many assumptions that it is debatable how useful they will be. But they show how benefits might be calculated for social technologies and provide a start a company can improve upon.

Throughout the book there are plenty of examples of how leaders find a way to communicate as openly as they can, and how this comes more easily for some than others. The book profiles not just private sector firms, but global charities (The Red Cross) and key government agencies (the US Navy and State Department) responsible for some of the world’s most important and dangerous work. This underscores the emphasis on open leadership broadly – not just for firms selling products and services, but for all kinds of organizations and institutions.

The last chapter of the book, “How Openness Transforms Organizations” includes seven recommendations: 1) create a sense of urgency with information sharing, 2) identify the values that will carry you through the transformation, 3) lead by example, 4) encourage risk taking; reward risks taken, 5) start small to win big, 6) institutionalize systems and structures, 7) be patient. These provide some guidance in managing toward an effective social media and are similar to the steps described in change management programs.

Limitations of this Book
Like many business books, this verges on pop psychology in parts, for example when Li presents four ‘archetypes’ of open leadership – ‘the realist optimist’, ‘the fearful sceptic’, ‘the cautious tester’ and ‘the transparent evangelist’ – although she acknowledges that this is more of an awareness raiser than a description of underlying truths.
Another concern is that a lot of case studies come from IT companies, such as IBM and Cisco. The concept of openness is attractive to the IT industry, whose culture values openness because it has so often been challenged by this in the past. Cynics might question whether the IT companies profiled in this book are as committed to true openness as they are to the image of openness.

Li presents the example of consumer electronics maker Apple as an exception. The iconic vendor is not at all open, Li writes, but that is a luxury afforded by its phenomenal success, not a determinant of that success. Less fortunate companies, such as Dell whose IdeaStorm portal allows customers to suggest new products and features, need to use these tools if they are to inspire the kind of loyalty that comes naturally for Apple.

This book is so full with ideas and examples, I was overwhelmed at one point thinking about everything my company could do but wasn’t. I felt I either needed to borrow $10 million to do social media right or retire – but both are unaffordable. The book does provide some hope by suggesting that you should start small and provides a lot ideas and tools to do this.
While the upside of the book is its examples, tools, questionnaires, and information including access to Charlene Li’s company, at times I felt I was being sold to and there was a marketing agenda for Altimeter, Li’s company. The book seemed to be written to a formula that sells books and the consulting company behind it. A good formula, but a formula no less.

In Conclusion
The purpose of Open Leadership is to open the minds of leaders to see that the balance of power is shifting to employee and customer relationships as a result of social media. For leaders this book can provide a way for this shift to be exciting and id managed well can lead to a company maintaining control in its openness. I had the feeling as a CEO of a business that if I ignored the advice given, my business could suffer consequences of being left behind or left out.

Open Leadership provides is no grand theory about social media but shows that it is an important part of what is shaping relationships between companies, their employees and customers and describes a great number of company and leadership examples. It is, however, Li’s own experience that is the valuable part of this book. Her work with clients has seen her develop real-world best practices and policies for using social media to promote openness and customer engagement, and Open Leadership gives an introduction to how this is done.

With many valuable examples, models and tools available in the book or as a download, Open Leadership will have a useful place on the real and electronic book shelves of leaders who want to make a substantial contribution to a fast changing and technologically advanced virtual world.

Alpha boys behaving badly

* As published in WA Business News

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and it has come to mean ‘the first of anything’. In the animal kingdom, it’s the dominant male. In astronomy, alpha is the brightest star in the constellation. In work organisations, an alpha is a powerful, aggressive person who demands results and top performance from himself and others. And a recent study from the U.S. shows they are usually males. While there are also alpha women in the workplace, the study showed that men scored much higher on the negative characteristics of alpha behaviour and while women have some of the negative characteristics of alphas they don’t behave as badly. In short, there are more alpha boys behaving badly at work.

The study showed the more positive alpha traits a person had (e.g. self confidence, innovative thinker, boldness) the more likely they were to have negative alpha traits (e.g. domineering, aggressive, dismissive, etc).

Research has defined three distinct alpha traits; hard-driving competitiveness, interpersonal impatience and difficulty controlling anger. Alpha males are self confident and pursue their goals with an urgent sense of mission. They are highly competitive and focused on winning. They are often charismatic, have a strong influence on others and command attention. They can be farsighted and determined to bring possibilities into realty.

Female alphas are ambitious and drawn to positions of authority but less inclined to dominate. Because they are more attuned to people’s feelings, they are more likely to collaborate and find win-win solutions. Alpha females can be opinionated and strong-minded, but are more likely to search for consensus and buy-in rather than impose their will.

The most damaging alpha trait is volatility. Alpha volatility makes a workplace edgy and unpredictable. Because alphas have strong energy, they set the tone of the workplace. When an anger-prone alpha enters the room, people get anxious and hold their breath waiting to see if they’ll be singled out for attention.

Alpha males want excellence, they want it now and they’re sure they know how to get it. When others fail to measure up, alphas let them know about it. Alphas operate under the mistaken belief that fear moves people to productive action. Their intimidating style makes people defensive and when challenged an Alpha has a powerful need to explain, justify and convince – in short to prove themselves to others and themselves.

People often comply with alpha males and mindlessly implement their strategies, even if they disagree with them. As a result effort ceases, learning is diminished and honest dialogue is silenced.

Alpha males, who operate with a sense of fairness, give feedback appropriately and limit their outbursts to genuine crises, become respected leaders. But those who don’t control their anger cripple a team or an entire organisation since this law-of-the jungle, chest thumping leadership style doesn’t work in today’s workplace.

Like other company resources, alphas can be both useful and potentially hazardous. If you run a team of alphas, you’ll need to maximise their productive capacity while keeping a lid on their tendency to turn the workplace into guerrilla warfare. Alphas need to learn to minimize their characteristics that cause harm to people around them and the organisation.

If you are an Alpha;
 Become Aware; observe your impact on others, how they avoid or hold back from you. Be aware of your own physical and mental stress, your fear and what is driving you. Be aware of your impatience, frustration and anger and ask yourself what is important and what isn’t.
 Centre Your Thinking; review your attitudes and self talk about others, ask questions and listen to why they did what they did. Learn meditation to quiet and calm your busy mind.
 Connect Emotionally; With people who matter to you and have fun doing the things you enjoy. Stop being so serious about everything.
 Re-engage Physically; Exercise, stretch, take a holiday, eat healthily, join a gym, ride a bike or play team sports.

If you work with an Alpha;
 Learn How to Assert Yourself; Overcome your fear and tell the alpha directly what they have done that is causing difficulty and ask them specifically to do or behave in the way you need them to.
 Be Clear on Your Key Concern; Help the alpha see that what you are asking is reasonable and in their best interest.
 Stay Calm, Don’t Take it Personally; Let go of your emotional baggage about them. As they say in sport, play the ball (their behaviour in the situation), not the man (don’t attack them personally).

Transforming Your Leadership Culture - a book review

You’re so busy grasping technology in one hand and science in the other, you have no hand left to grasp what’s really important. It’s the human spirit, that’s the challenge, that’s the voice, that’s the expedition.
—John Travolta as George Malley in the film Phenomenon

Book Summary
In spite of their allure and promise, change management practices regularly fail to achieve any significant results. Since the 1990s, as many as three-quarters of organizational change efforts have failed. Studies suggest that organization-wide failure rates range from 66 percent to 75 percent. One particular study revealed that only one-third of organization-wide change initiatives achieve any success at all.

It is no wonder that most leaders don’t want to spend a lot of money in organization change programs. Perhaps most change programs fail because they are primarily focused on external systems, structures and processes. What if the change your organization needs is in the leadership mindset?

According to John B McGuire and Gary B Rhodes, authors of Transforming Your Leadership Culture, too many change management initiatives, even after decades of advice and guidance, still fail to make an impact on their organisations. The net result is that leaders are left feeling frustrated, morale plummets and companies are trapped in the status quo, a dire situation that most organisations will not be able to afford in the best of times, let alone in today's volatile economic climate.

To create transformation change in an organization you need to change the culture. This may seem to go without saying, but we often try to make changes without changing the underlying belief systems. Belief systems drive behaviour and culture eats strategy. In Transforming Your Leadership Culture, authors John McGuire and Gary Rhodes write, “Organizational culture holds your organization’s aspirations and the spirit of the place. Its beliefs and values define the organization’s core.” To illustrate how endemic the force of belief is within a culture, they relate the following example:

Mike, a vice president at National Bank, a prestigious financial organization, tells the story of what came out of an all-day meeting of a group of vice presidents at headquarters: “We brought in VPs and directors from all our locations. We needed to use the largest conference room in the building and had to get special permission to do so.” At National Bank, “permission” wasn’t simply an issue of scheduling. The large conference room was located on the top floor of the building and used exclusively by senior executives, not by vice presidents. The vice president and director offices were on the floors below; lower-ranked employees were lower still, filling in the middle floors; the ground level housed administrative and support operations. The furnishings in the building changed by floor too. The top floor featured leather chairs, high-quality wood desks and tables, artwork, and attractive kitchen and washroom facilities. Below that level, floors housed progressively less expensive furnishings.

The night before the meeting, Mike was working late in his office finishing up his presentation: “A couple of guys from our maintenance staff kept walking past my office with chairs from the meeting room down the hall. I didn’t think much of it until the next morning when I arrived on the top floor for our big meeting. The maintenance staff had replaced all the leather chairs from our floor.”

Here the power of the culture reveals itself: no one had told the maintenance staff to switch the chairs. There was no policy or precedent for doing so. The maintenance crew made its own decision, based on its understanding that certain chairs went with certain levels of status. Without question, they simply followed the cultural norm. The cultural authority and trappings of status were so embedded in the organization that it didn’t even occur to them that vice presidents might sit in executive chairs while meeting on the executive floor.

This book is especially for the organizational leader who sees that change is necessary but has become sceptical that lasting, sustainable change—transformation—lies beyond reach. It argues that the heart of the problem is that senior management teams too often get fixated on changing an organisation's systems and forget that it is the people and culture that really makes it work. It is the beliefs and behaviours related to leadership and how workers respond to their leadership and management teams which play a key role in how engaged and productive an organisation is at any time. "When leaders take on and follow through on cultural transformation alongside their strategic and operational changes, they consistently succeed in reaching performance goals. They often just need help knowing how to change the culture," say McGuire. In short effective change management has to start from the top.

In Transforming Your Leadership Culture, McGuire and Rhodes of the well known Center for Creative Leadership, offer a new approach to organizational change. They describe the powerful role leadership culture has in organizational engagement, growth and adaptation to complex challenges. The book reveals the crucial role of a change-leading senior team, and provides processes, questionnaires and tools for engaging the senior team in culture change work. It then offers a path to successful transformation toward more interdependent, collaborative leadership cultures.

While the authors argue for the lofty goal of organizational transformation and provide big-picture concepts such as the culture development cycle, they provide practical guidance as well. The book provides a set of useful frameworks and tools to expand understanding of change, tap into a new approach, and create a plan of action for initiating change in your own leadership culture. Transforming Your Leadership Culture provides guidance and resources that help leaders decide what change is feasible, how to set practical incremental targets of change and development, and what tools are needed for navigating the turbulent waters of the change process. Executives must do this change work first by engaging with others and leading by example. Using developmental theory based on solid research, the authors show how this approach orients organizations toward a connected leadership in which everyone shares.

McGuire and Rhodes suggest that change comes when beliefs change. Altering organisational structures and systems is not enough, deeply held beliefs also need to change, as they will be what drive the decisions and behaviour in the organisation and which, in turn, will be the source of new and better leadership practices. Successful change, they argue, starts with the beliefs of the senior leadership culture and spreads into the middle of the organisation. From there, it is likely that momentum will build as successive levels of employees buy into change.

Every CEO wants fast, capable response to the challenge of change. But parochial mindsets only concerned with the immediate environment simply cannot deal with the complexity. Organizations seeking to grow and adapt during turbulent times cannot get there by purely technical approaches such as restructuring and reengineering. Many organizations are bad at effecting change because managers have so many "priority" projects on the go they can't tell what's important and what's not.

This book debunks the common myth that change in organizational culture is beyond the reach of mere mortals. It shows how leadership can be an emergent, creative, collective force for change. It provides good news by showing that when leaders take on and follow through on cultural transformation alongside their strategic and operational changes, they consistently succeed in terms of performance goals—while other organizations fail to change and struggle to survive. This book is a guide to successful change management. It suggests that organizations can evolve to face new challenges. Individuals, teams and entire organizations can transform their current mindsets into new ones. Agility, speed, execution, unification, readiness—all the things that CEOs dream about—are available when leaders transform their organization’s leadership culture.

In their client work and action research, the authors have seen this happen. They have studied leaders who grow together to develop “bigger minds.” They have facilitated processes that help senior leadership teams to evolve new mindsets that, in turn, allow the organization to anticipate and prepare for future challenges.

McGuire and Rhodes step offer three essential truths of successful cultural change:

1. Executives do the change work first and this involves personal change as well. Executives can’t delegate culture transformation work to others. What's more, culture change has to be a personal process first and foremost – by investing themselves in it, executives literally become instruments of change. Without first leading by engagement and example, senior leaders have an extremely poor chance (the odds are one in three or four) of achieving successful organizational transformation. The authors follow two simple principles: (1) Do not ask others to do what you are not willing to do yourself; and (2) if you want something different, then become something different. Culture change is a show-up, stand-up, participative, put-yourself-on-the-line, personal process.

2. The senior leaders becomes the change and takes change to the middle level of the organization. The key to successful transformation is doing the work in the senior leadership culture first before taking the change broadly and deeply in the organization. It requires senior leaders to be genuinely and seriously committed to the mutual risk of initiating, new leadership beliefs and practices that generate change. If the senior team is not ready, then substantial, lasting change isn’t likely. Ultimately, people in key roles must act and be the change they expect of others.

3. Everyone gets bigger minds. Transformation is serious work for serious people; it is about getting bigger minds to deal with bigger and more complex issues that will continue to confront the organization. The executive team must raise its leadership logic to the level required by the organization's vision and strategy. For example, if your strategy requires an independent leadership logic and your senior team has a conformer logic, then its collective mindset needs to grow. This may require some sizeable, serious cultural and development work for the team. The willingness to learn is the only requirement to getting a bigger mind.

3 Levels of Leadership Culture

McGuire and Rhodes describe three levels of leadership culture, from simpler and developmentally “earlier” forms, to more complex and later developed forms. Each level of culture has its own characteristic way of how leaders engage the organization. The three cultures are Dependent-Conformer, Independent-Achiever and Interdependent-Collaborator.

1. Dependent-Conformer cultures are characterized by the assumption that only people in positions of authority are responsible for leadership. Authority and control are held at the top. Success depends on obedience to authority and loyalty. Mastery of work operates primarily at the level of technical expertise. Dependent cultures are also conservative in their approach to change, place emphasis on keeping things running smoothly, and have a tendency to publicly smooth-over mistakes.

2. Independent-Achiever cultures distribute authority and control through the ranks. They operate on the assumption that leadership emerges as needed from a variety of individuals based on knowledge and expertise. This leads to decentralized decision-making, high demand for individual responsibility, strong reliance on experts and expertise, and competition among experts. It focuses on success in a changing world and adapting faster and better than the competition. Success means mastery of systems that produce results in an individual’s own domain, and eventually contribute to the success of the organization. Mistakes are lessons to improve. Independent cultures include: individual performance as an important source of success and status, an emphasis on taking calculated risks, open disagreement, and independent actions within functions or workgroups.

3. Interdependent-Collaborator cultures are those in which authority and control are shared based on strategic competence for the whole organization. Leadership is viewed as a collective activity that requires mutual inquiry and learning. The mindset tends toward collaborating in a changing world so that new orders and structures can emerge through collective work. Mistakes are embraced as opportunities for individual, team, and organizational learning, and both positive and negative feedback are valued as essential tools for collective success. Other characteristics include: the ability to work effectively across organizational boundaries, openness and candour, multi-faceted standards of success, and synergies occurring across the whole enterprise.

None of these three leadership cultures is better than the other two in an absolute sense. Each has been and can be successful when the context is right. But there is an order of progression among the three. Interdependent-collaborator cultures are the only level that is able to achieve genuine intentional, sustained, system-level ways of engaging the organization for strategic change. Most senior leaders say they want a collective leadership working as a unified force for change. Their competitive situation and environment calls for this, but few leaders would say that have an interdependent-collaborative culture right now.

3 Frameworks for Transformation
Three frameworks are provided to guide effective cultural change: Inside-Out, Readiness and Headroom.

1. Inside-Out. The source of transformation is your internal, intuitive, emotional, creative, spirit realm of deepest experience of being—subjective territory. Beliefs and meaning come from within (Inside-Out”). In contrast, “Outside-In” is what operations is made of--the objective, empirical stuff. Inside-Out is the source of deep, sustainable change.

2. Readiness. This is your preparedness as a leader to face the challenge of change. Your degree of readiness depends on assumptions and beliefs that either enable or cripple your personal chance at transformation. There are three forces of Readiness, which include your assumptions about the nature and use of time; the degrees of your need for control over self, things and others; and your deepest intentions—how serious you really are. Your personal readiness for change will determine your ability to guide others through change.

3. Headroom. “Headroom” is the space and time created to allow systemic development of the leadership culture. Expanding Headroom assists everyone to acquire the “bigger minds” that meeting challenges requires. Headroom is about having genuine and creative multi-lateral, multi-level connections with others in the course of transformation. It depends on internal and group dialogue, authentic public engagement, and collective learning.

Feasibility of Changing the Organization

Many organizations are investing huge amounts of money, time and people resources in changes that are destined to fail. If good feasibility work is done on the culture at the outset, a lot of money and heartburn can be saved. Based on their experience the authors reveal five factors that indicate a senior team’s readiness to work on cultural change.
1. The executive team is engaged as both enabler and participant.
2. Leadership development is part of the organization’s cultural history.
3. In struggling to implement change, senior leaders know that the missing piece is change in the leadership culture.
4. The senior team is willing to engage in emergent work.
5. The senior team recognizes the need for cross-boundary work.

As the senior team goes through this process of learning, members need to continually ask to what extent they are willing to fully participate in and demonstrate. Not every senior leader may want to come along.

The Culture Development Cycle (CDC)
The CDC is an organizational learning and development model or framework devised to represent the research findings with many clients based on grounded theory. The cycle includes six “dimensions” or “phases.”

• The Inside-Out, Role Shifting Experience Phase
• The Readiness for Risk and Vulnerability Phase
• The Headroom and Widening Engagement Phase
• The Innovation Phase
• The Structure, Systems and Business Processes Phase
• The Leadership Transformation Phase

The cycle, however, is not a series of six steps. The cycle doesn’t begin at one place; you begin wherever you are right now. But inevitably, you must engage in all six phases in order to transform leadership culture.

The Outcomes of Leading: Direction, Alignment, and Commitment
McGuire and Rhodes define leadership in terms of outcomes: what leadership brings about and what is done to set direction, achieve alignment and get commitment.

• Setting direction usually implies some measure of change, be it incremental or major. For a senior leader, setting direction means charting a course for the organization. Strategy addresses where you are going and how you are going to get there, so setting direction is part of strategy. All significant enterprise-wide change emanates from vision and strategy. In organization transformation efforts, your leadership strategy is as important as your business (or organizational) strategy.

• Alignment produces the right configuration of beliefs and talent, in the systems, structure and processes that enable your organizational to head in the direction you have set. When leadership practices are jointly shared in by the collective of leadership, such alignment becomes a powerful force for change. One vital alignment is that between your business strategy and your leadership strategy.

• Commitment is first getting the leadership culture and then the whole organization on board, believing and devoted to the direction your strategy charts.

Leadership culture then is the mutually reinforcing “web” of leadership beliefs and practices, as they are held, tested, and evolved over time in an organization or other community. Followers as well as leaders are participants in the leadership culture, though with different roles. Together, the group advances the leadership culture and the organization to a stage of development capable of facing and dealing with greater complexity.

Practical Application
This book highlights and energises the need to work with and move the senior executive team to realise and live the true vision and values that the culture is striving for. It has convinced me that if that doesn’t happen in my own organization or in the organizations we work with, than there is little or no chance for the organization to be successful in the long term.

The cases, questionnaires and exercises in Chapter 11, page 255 – 286 are very useful and relevant. I used several questionnaires with the senior executive team of an energy company and they were very useful.

The authors provide some practical steps to consider:
• Start with the senior leadership. If you are a CEO or senior manager, then you can no longer just delegate, defer or demand development from others. The changing role of senior leaders absolutely requires your commitment to your own Inside-out development. Don’t ask anyone to do what you are not willing to do. If you are not in senior management, then you have to 5 find a way to influence your CEO and senior team or else the change will be synthetic, superficial and incomplete.

• Executing strategy while developing leadership talent. By choosing the right level of leadership culture that your organization absolutely requires for its future, your leadership talent as a collective can advance to new levels of organizational capability that secures success. Don’t develop individual competencies one leader at a time as they come through the pipeline. Put more work into the senior management seminars, retreats, discussions about values and vision and develop the team into an independent collaborative culture.

• Achieve a vibrant leadership culture capable of executing your strategy through developing your leadership talent. Create a self-perpetuating leadership collective by developing your middle level managers into the new collaborative culture. Mentoring, coaching, executive and middle level leadership team workshops are helpful with this.

• Balance Outside-in changes in organizational systems, structure and processes with Inside-out development of leadership beliefs. Business strategy drives the challenge; leadership strategy meets and imbeds it. The organization is where demand meets supply. Get the human system in alignment with the operational systems. Achieve the balance in the equation that really makes everything work.

• Get a bigger mind. Serious change requires serious people. An expanding, learning-capable leadership mind-set can successfully face bigger challenges. Collective learning is the key to the elusive, popular vision of the learning organization. Collective, bigger leadership minds can address not only this year’s business issues and goals but also the shifting strategic challenges that face the leadership culture in the future. Organize leadership development and coaching that leads to bigger minds (and smaller egos!)

• Three foundations of personal readiness—time sense, control source, and intentionality—are the keys to advancing your personal readiness for transformation. When leaders demonstrate through their decisions and actions willingness to counter traditional assumptions, they create the conditions for others to learn and advance, and they expand collaboration, learning and development. These people will together pursue multiple right answers and advance collaborative relationships, thereby addressing more complex emergent issues and build readiness together for leadership.

• Headroom is the primary development process for your leadership culture. Engaging fully in the Headroom process includes time and space of inside-out discovery, action development for new leadership beliefs and practices, and advancement of leadership logics and culture. Headroom generates a new level of organizational capability and talent. During an Interdependent-Collaborative stage of culture, no competitor voice of that capability will challenge your organization’s ability to thrive.

• Create a change leadership team (CLT) that is the practice zone for emergence, generation and launch of the new leadership beliefs and practices that are the seeds of change that you need. Over time, it becomes the generator and the carrier of the next-order leadership culture.

• Focus on the core. Developing your leadership culture is developing your leadership talent to the next level of leadership logic, and advancing the practices of leaders to the next level of capability. When the next level of leadership culture is aligned with strategy, performance will be exceptional. By focusing on the few core capabilities the organization needs, you can move the whole and expanding leadership culture forward as a unified force for change.

• Use the development law of 3 X 3. There are three steps of development in each of the three stages of development. This is true for individuals and organizations. The three-step language goes something like this: (1) awareness, (2) try to apply new stuff, and (3) consolidate learning into the new logic frame. These steps take courage, belief and a new idea that is better and bigger. You have to ride inspiration and gut it out at the same time. You can’t skip steps. Development is earned. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. The CEO and leadership team have to get on the development bus!

• Use the culture development cycle to advance to the next level of leadership logic and culture. Each dimension is an ongoing, self-contained entity. Your organization can and will go through the phases many times as they advance in capability and sophistication.

What is meant by this is having an organisation where teams and individuals are open to more than one right answer, where collaboration is valued and where there is headroom for colleagues to experiment and grow. The authors state; "Individuals, teams and entire organisations can change their belief systems, current mindsets and learn more collaborative behaviours. Bigger minds can be created to solve bigger problems".

While this book is very comprehensive and well set out and includes very useful tools, processes and questionnaires, there are a few limitations that should be pointed out before jumping in and using the ideas in this book.

1. After reading this book you could come away with the impression that if the CEO and senior management team are not involved, change is hopeless and should not even be tried. There is several research studies that have shown bottom up change and cross department change can be successful before senior management picks up the change. Local bush fires can set other places alight. The environmental movement seems to be driven more from the grass roots than from political leaders.

2. The book doesn’t refer to, acknowledge or incorporate some of the very useful change frameworks, and methods such as Kotter’s eight stages, force field analysis, etc. which are well known and used in the change management and transformational fields. A chapter showing how these theories and tools fit in with the ideas covered in this book would have been helpful.

3. Senior team members are not all at the same ‘thinking logic’. The book seems to suggest the whole organisation or senior management team is at the same level but experience shows that within the same time managers often range from enlightened leaders to conforming leaders.

4. The ideas of this book come from Torbert’s Action Inquiry which is a developmental approach similar to Integral theory. It leaves out the Integral four quadrant approach of recognizing systems, behaviours, culture and individual consciousness. While it refers to mindsets and culture, the Integral 4 quadrant framework could help organise and present these areas better.

5. McGuire and Rhodes only used 3 out of the 8 or so levels used in Integral theory and Action Inquiry. These levels are the most common in American organizations but do not give the full picture of the unfolding levels of development. While these three levels are simple and clear and will resonate with most managers, they do not represent the full range of development. For example, a tribal culture can exist before the conforming stage in many organisations. There is also a unified state in which is not interdependent but is a stage of oneness or non-duality. These may be rarer stages but they are valid and important stages of development.

6. At a very fundamental level, transforming a leadership culture means leaders transcending their egos and connecting their sense of self with a higher purpose. Eckhart Tolle in ‘The New Earth’ states that all true transformation must come from a transformation and transcendence of the ego. Becoming involved in genuine transformation requires a degree of humility that many senior leaders will find a step too far. Too many egos and too much empire-building sink the opportunity before it gets started. A little more of the Tolle perspective into this book could be useful.

These limitations are not sufficient however to detract from the tremendous value and contribution this book has made in uncovering the major factors important to transformation and powerful tools and methods to achieve it.

Some Key Considerations and Questions
�� What did you most like about this book?
�� What did you have most difficulty understanding or not agree with in this book?
�� Which tools/questionnaires would you use?
�� What level of development is your leadership in your organisation?
�� How will they respond to the idea that they have to go through a personal transformation, they have to reach a higher level (and to the idea that they are not already at the highest level!)?
�� Ken Wilber says that meditation is the one of the most universal tools that leads to development to higher stages. Do you agree and would you recommend that everyone in your organisation meditate, starting with the leaders?

Venturing into Social Business

(This article appeared in WA Business News 24 February, 2011)

All over the world people work in companies that generate profits for shareholders. In the 17th century book Wealth of Nations, author Adam Smith encouraged the pursuit of 'rational self-interest' to generate wealth and create a prosperous society. His work became the roadmap for free-market capitalism in which business owners hire workers to produce goods and services which they sell for a profit. As a result, western societies created extraordinary wealth.

However while free-market capitalism has generated considerable material prosperity, due to its focus on profit it has often neglected the social and environmental impact of profit driven behavior, and failed to address the needs of the poor and the environment. While traditionally not-for-profit and government organisations provide services for the social, environmental and “bottom of the pyramid” needs that remain unmet by capitalism, this approach often requires continual funding from grants, donations or taxes and doesn’t lead to sustainable, self-sufficient organisations and people.

Muhammad Yunus, nicknamed ‘Banker to the Poor’’, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for the pioneering work of the Grameen Bank, which provides microloans to poor women to support their own business and lift their families out of poverty. In the past 30 years, microloans have benefitted more than 100 million families throughout Bangladesh, India and the USA. In his recent book “Building Social Business” Yunus champions ‘social businesses’, which provide value to society and can apply the dynamics of capitalism to solve humanity’s greatest challenges through sustainable business models.

Pamela Hartigan of the World economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in her recent book “The Power of Unreasonable People” describes a wide range of not-for-profit, for-profit and hybrid social businesses providing value to all sectors of society. Companies such as La Fageda (dairy), Better Place (electric cars), Cool NRG (reducing carbon emissions) Sekem (biodynamic farming in Egypt), Grameen Shakti (renewable energy), Aravind Eye Care (ophthalmological hospital in India), LeapFrog (microinsurance), InterfaceFLOR (environmentally sustainable carpets) and Whole Foods Market in the US are providing socially responsible products and services to people with income above the poverty line.

While these social businesses cover the not-for-profit to for-profit (Vikram Akula’s SKS Microfinance) spectrum they all share the primary motive of developing society and or the environment. Hybrid models are also arising such as many of Grameen’s latest ventures where Grameen has partnered with for-profit companies establishing subsidiary social businesses to provide services and products to the poor such as low cost nutritional yoghurt (Danone + Grameen), mobile phone access for the poor (Telnor + Grameen) and social enterprise funds (UK based UnLtd) and schools such as the London and Sydney based School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE).

So what are the opportunities for West Australian entrepreneurs and organisations?

1. Companies can partner with existing social businesses or NFP to create sustainable social businesses.
2. As the Schwab foundation has only one Australian social entrepreneur fellow on its list, there’s still plenty of room for Australian entrepreneurs to embrace these innovative models making a positive difference in the world.
3. Banks and investment companies can expand their investment portfolios to include social enterprises.
4. Companies could allow staff to work in a social business during company time like does.
5. Finally, being involved in social business can improve a company’s reputation and boost staff morale and pride.

Encouraging social business is an additional and important alternative that complements profit-centered businesses. Doing well by doing good is smart business as well as good business.

Meet Nick Oddy

1. Who is Nick Oddy?

I live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne with my wonderful family (wife Susannah, daughter Madeline and child number two due in June). I’m committed to healthy living and a vegetarian who enjoys all kinds of sports especially hiking and camping. My spiritual practice is the foundation that informs how I live my life. I started working with ID in August last year and I’m enjoying it immensely.

2. Why do you do what you do?

I work with ID as the values and aspirations of the firm are very closely aligned with my own. I had to search across the country to find a company that I feel comfortable and inspired working with and ID is just that. Learning and development is a rewarding area to work in as you are seeking to help organisations and people become the best they can be (and be their best for the world).

3. What are your strengths as a consultant?

Difficult to answer. I think I’m good at conceptualizing and developing programs that address organisational needs. I try to use relevant theoretical models and case studies in a way that is practical and accessible to people.

4. What’s the most interesting part about your line of work?

I find the concept of innovation a buzz as it’s about ‘finding a better a way’ and seeking to maximise potential. Paul Keating once said that leadership is essentially about imagination and courage. I think there is probably more to leadership but those two concepts are at the heart of our innovation work. And of course the great people you work with.

5. Can you think of any great companies doing some great, innovative work?

My east coast colleague Ron Laurie and I are currently delivering an innovation qualification to a group of senior managers at Blackmores, the natural healthcare company. Their headquarters just north of Sydney is an amazing campus. You walk towards the entrance on a bridge made from recycled Australian timber that sits over tranquil water gardens populated with herbs, native plants and water lilies. Inside the building there are numerous break-out areas for staff, the couches and lounge areas overlook picturesque lawns and gardens through floor to ceiling windows. There is a 25-metre lap pool for staff, mediation areas, relaxation & massage rooms and a fully serviced kitchen providing staff with healthy and nutritious meals. The impressive physical environment is matched by a supportive yet ambitious culture. They are a company who fully believe in the value of what they offer.

The new learning campus (NAB Academy) at National Australia Bank’s Docklands building is state of the art and unprecedented in Australia. The physical environment and educational facilities are the most innovative in Australia and demonstrate the growing recognition of the importance of developing your people and maximising their talents. NAB is endeavoring to match their substantial financial commitment to the physical learning environment with equally innovative curriculum and professional development opportunities for staff. We shall wait and see.

6. If you could invite 5 people to dinner, who would they be?

Living or dead not specified here so I shall have a crack at both.


Joseph Campbell
Carl Jung
Joan of Arc
Martin Luther King
JC (the other prodigal son and great redeemer)


Barack Obama
David Suzuki
Julia Zemiro
Robert Thurman
Ron Cacioppe (another vegetarian and someone with whom you could later share the experience with to keep it ‘alive’)

7. Who inspires you and why?

I recently watched the Shaun Penn movie ‘Into the Wild’. It’s the true story of the life of Chrstopher McCandless who after graduating University rejected conventional life (donating his life savings of $25,000 to charity) and hitchhiked around America, finally living in an abandoned bus deep in the wilderness of Alaska. What inspired me was his unwavering commitment to his ideals and the notion that happiness and wellbeing primarily resides within us and is fruitless if pursued by external means only. A ‘must see’ if you haven’t yet watched it.

8. If you were stranded on a desert island, what book and 2 items and would you like with you?

I’m going to say Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Carl Jung but I wouldn’t be restricted to just one book. I'd also want my iPad – all the literature and music you could ever need. And of course if you’re stuck on a deserted island you need to keep a journal (electronic in this case) so you can publish a book when you are finally rescued. I'd also want a solar powered charger for my iPad (for those who scoffed at my response).