In an article by Australian School of Business, the topic of career midlife crisis is discussed. It appears that we are now likely to have multiple crises as transitions between different career stages (e.g. learning the ropes, becoming established, making a difference, moving on) become less related to tenure, and more related to the accelerated delivery of organisational outcomes, achievement mindsets, leadership programs that encourage greater self awareness, and changing expectations.
While an interesting article in it’s own right, it lends direct/indirect weight to the following points:
- External motivators (money, possessions, external recognition) have limited sustained value in driving staff performance
- Being connected to some interest/purpose greater than yourself (your own needs/desires) is a key to personal fulfilment
- Taking time to reflect on a regular basis is likely to keep you on the right track
- Working with others in community/relationship will drive greater commitment/accountability
One of the challenges with cultural change work in organisations is that fostering greater self awareness can and does lead some nominated talent to select different paths to pursue outside their organisation. I believe this side effect can be mitigated by clearly articulating how an organisation’s vision/mission/strategy is helping address the needs of real customers/service recipients.
You can download a copy of the article at: http://knowledge.asb.unsw.edu.au/article.cfm?articleid=1344
Science Daily: The human brain works incredibly fast. However, visual impressions are so complex that their processing takes several hundred milliseconds before they enter our consciousness. Scientists have now shown that this delay may vary in length. When the brain possesses some prior information — that is, when it already knows what it is about to see — conscious recognition occurs faster. Until now, neuroscientists assumed that the processes leading up to conscious perception were rather rigid and that their timing did not vary. Read the full article here.
For many years, we’ve known good leadership and management involves expectation setting – but many leaders and managers just ‘expect’ their people to know. Science now confirms we can get quicker neural responses if the brain possesses some prior information about an ‘incoming stimulus’. So if we want improved outcomes from direct reports and teams, we must clearly establish expectations – both what can be expected during an experience/task/process, as well as what outcomes are expected from that experience/task/process.
Clarifying expectations reduces uncertainty, and accelerates action…
Yesterday, I had the privilege of hearing Professor Costas Markides from London Business School speak on innovation. Here are five key things you need to know about innovation. 1. Assumptions kill creativity. Assumptions are implicit and sub-conscious. As a consultant, I need to both challenge my own assumptions and help others to challenge their assumptions. Note that it’s all very well to tell someone to “think outside the box”, but if the box is our everyday sub-conscious assumptions, then we actually we can’t see the box. “Where is the box?” becomes a first critical question to enable innovation. As businesses seeking to innovate, we need to ask the following questions: “Who really is the customer? What am I really selling? How really should we compete in this market? What business are we really in?” 2. The Knowledge Doing Gap. A critical problem is that people and organisations usually know what to do, but they don’t actually do it. A “burning platform” gets people moving in all directions but doesn’t deliver innovation. A compelling vision gets people to agree on the future but doesn’t necessarily deliver consistent momentum. To create aligned momentum and innovation, organisations need a positive crisis. Instead of framing change either as a threat or an opportunity, you need to frame change and innovation challenges as both threat and opportunity. Frame both threat and opportunity at the same time – create a Positive Crisis3. Create/change the organisational environment in order to deliver innovation. Research has found that while 30% of behaviour is determined by personality, 70% of behavior is determined by social context. For example, we expect others to do something about a situation rather than ourselves. So change/shape the environment to encourage innovation. Framing problems is critical to helping innovation.4. Just because it is a good idea doesn’t mean it will catch on. We must also be able to effectively sell the idea to others. Selling effectiveness depends on who is selling, how it is being sold, what is being sold, and who is buying. In order to foster/deliver innovation, we need to ask ourselves how credible we are. We need to minimize disruption, and to lead by example.5. Small changes in social context, and/or your behavior, can have a major impact on people and organisations. Don’t try to change the world, or to implement ‘big bang’ innovation. Instead, act your way into a new way of thinking. Use pilots, make work fun, implement in a unit/team and expand from there!