The New Year is not just a time for thinking about our bucket list and what you want to do, but who you want to be as a person. That includes how we want to be together in our teams and communities.
Over the break I escaped the cut and thrust of life, got out into the natural world, and reflected on what brings me true peace and contentment. Interestingly it wasn’t more stuff, more possessions or even more achievements.
If I have one wish for 2018, it is that we learn to be more human with each other, more curious, more tolerant and more related. That’s my vision and commitment.
In my last post I spoke about the film 'BULLY'.
One of the great strengths of this film is that while bullying in many schools and workplaces is managed in private, the camera allows us to witness and reflect on escalating incidents of bullying and individual, peer, family and the school systems’ attempts to deal with it. It’s easier to learn from the comfort of our seats, when we’re not caught in the intensity of the moment ourselves. Our brains are not surging with stress-related hormones. We’re not under pressures to act and fix things.
I’ve just seen the film ‘BULLY’, which follows the lives of five young people who experience bullying. Of the children in the film, one was seventeen year old Tyler Long, who committed suicide on October 17 2009. The documentary provides a compelling insight into the dynamics of bullying in the school yard and on the school bus. The film has been so powerful that it has now been viewed by over one million parents, kids, educators and advocates. Everyone should see it, but a word of warning, its contents are graphic and disturbing.
A particularly shocking revelation, following Tyler’s death, was that several of his fellow students had come to school with nooses around their necks. What distances a person from the impact of their behaviour, to the extent that even the death of a peer does not wake them up to the fact that it’s no longer a joke?
My interest in workplace conflict developed during my work as a rehabilitation consultant specialising in psychological injuries in the workplace. It was evident that the mechanisms in place at the time for the early resolution of conflict were inadequate.
As a result people held on trying to cope as best they could, usually with a result that their conflicts escalated. Feelings such as rage, hopelessness and fear kicked in. Many people experience sleeplessness or report a deterioration in personal relationships as they took their worries home.
The stresses associated with interpersonal or team conflict are hard on the body. Over time it can and does lead to health impacts such as adrenal fatigue, immune system depletion, anxiety and a depression, with signs of PTSD evident in many sustained cases of bullying. For those with pre-existing mental health conditions, the deterioration is usually evident much sooner and can be catastrophic.
As I went about my business today in a far nether-region of the world called Australia, CEO’s attended to urgent meetings before returning to view the live telecast of the US election and primary school children on public transport announced emerging ballot results from their mobile phones while their friends played Candy Crush.
As the trending results revealed themselves, I, like many, rode a roller coaster...
Last night the ABC’s Four Corners program aired shocking footage of the treatment of young Aboriginal children in custody in the Dondale Detention Centre. What I witnessed fills me with shame and a sense of responsibility to speak out.
The CC TV footage revealed assaults on young Aboriginal boys as young as 14, with groups of guards kicking, beating, goading, forcibly restraining them and using tear gas on them. The accompanying image to this post is taken from that footage. Independent Ombudsmen report the extraordinary and unacceptable use of solitary confinement, while other minors describe being pressured to attack those targeted by warders as troublemakers.
When questioned about the treatment of minors at the Centre, the NT Minister for Correctional Services, John Elferink, deflected any focus on his own failure to act on extensive reports on the problem by benignly raising questions about whether the personnel dealing with these youth had been adequately trained.
To dismiss this behaviour as a reflection of inadequate training ignores the systemic dimensions of this situation and offers little confidence that the disgraceful patterns of behaviour and norms that have developed within the institution will be addressed. And I say this as someone in the learning and development field!
During my early career as a therapist rehabilitating people after brain injuries and stroke, I became fascinated by the workings of the brain. These years taught me a lot about what happens when things start going haywire. It’s an understanding I still value as a coach…
Leaders need to be able to think clearly. We expect them to make decisions based on sound reasoning. We also expect leaders to engage proactively. But too often this is not the case. Many leadership decisions are reactive, occurring when people are at the mercy of what neuroscientists refer to as an amygdala hijack.
When we are triggered by a problem that is overwhelming, when someone who challenges our identity or we encounter perceived threats, the amygdala kicks in. We become reactive. The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for our fight and flight response.
By now your New Year’s Resolutions will be made and many of you will be thinking about what is needed to achieve them.
We are living in an era of disruption in which rapid technological change demands a radical rethink of the ways we do business and how we live our lives. Most leaders know that even their best-made plans are good for only as long as it takes the ink on these documents to dry.
A key indicator of our effectiveness as leaders lies not only in how we manage our vision and strategy, but in how we deal with unexpected developments – both those that we welcome and those that are confronting. Leaders who are able to deal with the curveballs life throws their way, are usually better equipped when it comes to the big shifts. They are more agile.
Are you open to new opportunities and able to harness the potential within unexpected events? Are you an early adopter or do you regard the rapidly changing environment merely as a nuisance?
Over the past few years we’ve been training leaders and managers to use a coaching approach to help their staff adjust and navigate rapidly changing environments.
Rather than endlessly explaining organisational change or blindly reassuring staff, program participants find it more effective to pose questions that help to surface what’s important for each staff member. Once that’s clarified, managers can help employees to explore the potential impacts and benefits of the organisational change. They engage staff as active stakeholders as they collaboratively work through their concerns. In general, the solutions that staff members develop themselves are far more effective than anything the manager themselves might offer.
Coaching for Change helps to empower individuals in an environment of uncertainty. Coaching conversations build their understanding of the drivers of change and support confidence in the skills needed to operate in the new landscape.
I have to admit, I’m not always the best at staying in touch. So I was pleased when my sister Danielle and I finally spoke on the phone the other day. Our calls had been bouncing back and forward between our message banks for weeks.
“I’m really under the pump“ she said. We proceeded to talk about the projects we were working on. My sister is fifteen years younger than me and we only lived under the one roof for a few short years. Yet, in many ways, we’re scarily similar. As she spoke about the way in which she works and thinks, I was laughed. I already knew the story being shared from the inside out. Though much in our daily lives is different, we have very similar temperaments. We’re both driven, we’re focused on pushing boundaries and finding solutions that are new and innovative. We get bored easily and are rarely still for long before the next initiative kicks in.
After the call I found myself wondering, 'What is that? How can we be so similar?' A strange answer sprang to mind. Well, in fact, it wasn’t quite an answer. It was the memory of a person; my uncle, Jimmy Meath.