Have you ever given or received an apology that had a powerful and transformative impact? Of late we've been working with organisations committed to making full and wholehearted apologies.
A heartfelt apology can be relieving for all concerned. Acknowledging mistakes and wrongdoings supports healing and the restoration of relationships. When Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologised in 2008 to Australian Aboriginals and members of the stolen generation, for the forced removal of children from their families and culture, his words held significance for the whole nation. Rudd spoke at the time about ‘removing a stain from the nation’s soul’.
The apology to the stolen generation was a long time coming - far too long. The trauma of many individuals and their families was prolonged by a lack of acknowledgement of their suffering. Events such as this and the mixed messages sent by many institutions in response to allegations of child sex abuse have been painful to witness.
No leader wants to be regarded as out of touch with the issues affecting their workforce. Similarly no politician wants to be viewed as out of sync with their electorate. They’d rather be seen as having their finger on the pulse.
Yet leadership has an insulating effect. It can narrow one’s focus and dims one’s judgement to a point where those around us are left shaking their head, wondering what we were thinking.
The repeated booing of AFL footballer and former Australian of the year, Adam Goodes, shines the light on racism in Australia. While his treatment has been trivialised by some it is blatantly disproportionate to the treatment metered out to other players.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has come out strongly saying that football fan’s behaviour constitutes racism. He has called on other leaders to stop mincing their words and recognise the issue for what it is.
When a group of people enter into a retreat with the intention of learning about themselves and the art of leadership, there’s no telling what will happen.
It’s an adventure in which we sign up to discover whatever we need to learn next. So for each of us the learnings derived from the Resilient Leadership Retreat were slightly different. The journey was made richer by entering into new and unexplored terrain together. When we teetered at edges or doubted ourselves, there was someone ready to witness our transition, encouraging our growth.
What I’d like to share now are not the formal elements of the program, but those incidental learnings that daily life together in Provence taught us. Some of these principles may seem obvious. It’s the power of experiential learning that really brings them to life. However, I hope they touch those times in you, when you connected deeply with what works:
Did you know that research indicates 30-50% of a manager's time is spent averting or addressing conflict?!
When working with conflict, we adopt a coaching approach. We’ve worked with scores of organisations to introduce conflict management coaching for early intervention and escalated conflict. We’ve now trained over 1500 leaders, HR managers and practitioners in this approach.
If there is anything to be learnt from the spate of recent political leadership challenges it’s that leaders need to listen more to those around them. Even when it’s not what they want to hear. In fact especially then!
Leaders must learn to open up to feedback, from their colleagues, constituents and other key stakeholders if they hope to win respect and survive in their roles.
For those schooled in heroic leadership, this is a dramatic turnaround. For them the ability to withstand and overcome opposition has long been regarded as the mark of a strong leader.
The New Year naturally lends itself to thoughts of what you want for the year and possibly years ahead.
When we know what we want to achieve, our course of action becomes much clearer as do our priorities.
Have you ever considered your origins and the way they've influenced your approach to life and your work?
I began my professional life as an Occupational Therapist so when I connected this morning with a group of OTs who have all become coaches it was like coming home. We spoke a language we immediately recognised...
A true measure of a leader, or any person for that matter, is how they respond when things don’t go according to plan. It’s not just how they respond to setbacks, but how they weather the dynamic and turbulent forces operating within organisations, political institutions and society that distinguishes leaders.
Some people seem to maintain their mojo despite adversity. While others are worn down by these forces, they manage to rise above them. They seem able to swim in strong currents.
Who comes to mind when you think of resilient leaders? For me it is people like Australian of the Year Rosemary Batty, Liberal Parliamentarian Malcom Turnbull, formerly exiled Myanmar parliamentarian and Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Sui Kyi. But who embodies resilience for you?
In the documentary A Complicated Life: Kerry Packer, his friend and confidante Philip Adams explained that the business magnate famously yelled at his staff, when he didn’t know what else to say to them. This account is consistent with research suggesting that poor use of power by leaders is often a reaction to feelings of personal vulnerability.
Whilst power insulates leaders from many challenges, researchers suggest that power brings greater susceptibility to psychological threats. These threats can come in the form of self-doubt, low status or insecurity about one’s position as a leader.
So why is it that leaders are so sensitive to challenges to their identity or self-concept?