Leadership in a crisis requires a different emphasis to retain the trust and motivation of team members. As everyone within the team collectively deals with rolling waves of challenges that impact personal and professional lives the leader needs to be a beacon of light and clarity. The McKinsey authors commence this article by pointing out that leadership is most important when people face significant objective threats and that the usual ways of working are no longer possible leading to stress, anxiety and confusion. During times of disaster (natural disasters such earthquakes, storms and pandemics or financial disasters such as the GFC) there is always a significant impact on people creating economic hardship. A catastrophe happens when people impacted “freeze up and freak out” losing the trust and faith in leaders, rules and social norms. A core tenant of leadership in a crisis is to provide cultural and psychological protection forContinue Reading


Consultancy O.C. Tanner have analysed and studied the Culture Trends for 2021 and produced a report on the top five culture trends that organisations need to get ready for to help their employees thrive. TREND # 1 – Emerging from crisis, companies focus on culture as companies around the world return to the workplace after months of remote work or they adjust to a new normal mix of onsite and remote work. The workplace culture in significant instability and change. Some organisations will need to restore the culture following layoffs, furloughs or site closures which have drastically changed and impacted the workforce. Other organisations are changing work processes and methodologies to adapt to the new need for social distancing. The underlying fear of COVID19 continues to provide uncertainty on what else might change. A recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workforce study found two out of three companies reported keeping employee morale up toContinue Reading

magic ingredient

Search on the term Cognitive Diversity in Teams and you will find hundreds of scholarly articles on the topic in journals, as well as editorial articles in magazines from all over the world. So what is cognitive diversity and why is it a magical ingredient for teams? Highly diverse teams bring a wealth of thinking, creativity and opportunity as the article author Richard Bliss states “diversity in the workplace or on a team is a competitive advantage. It’s also something that is not easily copied or replicated”. So why is it so hard to build a diverse team and get them to work effectively together? Well that is because that same diversity of thought can generate friction and cause conflict through the debate of alternative opinions. The greater the wealth of different opinions and diverging thoughts the harder to corral and align for critical decisions. This topic is tackled inContinue Reading

The Avocado Leader is a new term coined to reflect a change in management behaviours during the pandemic. The Avocado Leader has a soft and empathetic exterior with a hard business core. Academics from Macquarie Business School together with management consultancy We Are Unity conducted research interviewing senior and mid level executives from ASX200 firms about how management has changed during the pandemic and the impact of COVID19 restrictions. Key findings show the crisis has been a catalyst for transformation in the way that people work, increasing focus on mental health, introduction of flexible and smarter ways of working and the acceleration of digital disruption to future proof the business. The survey found that during the COVID 63% of leaders identified a boost to productivity 57% saw improved collaboration 55% saw improved efficiency 87% believed their organisation was agile in response to the pandemic 74% attributed improved performance to theContinue Reading

5 skills

A recent US survey has identified the most important skills for managers as: communication, ability to train, time management, building culture and managing performance. In 2019 the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released a study  The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture which identified 1 in 4 American workers dreaded going to work and that US companies had lost $223 billion due to culture caused turn-over. In 2020 they updated the study with further research finding that 84% of US workers blame bad managers for creating unnecessary stress. This article unpacks the more recent study and finds that there are five skills that employees wish their managers have. Effective Communication The mostly highly regarded skill is effective communications (41% of those surveyed stated their manager could improve in this area). It is important to remember that effective communication is not just about talking it is also about listeningContinue Reading

Transforming your organisation requires a mindset transformation, the excellent illustration below was shared this week on LinkedIn by an ex-colleague and it sums up how organisations need to think about and plan for transformation. Well done to Thoughtworks and Tanmay Vora who created this image. “The most profound business challenge we face today is how to build organizations that can change as fast as change itself.“ Gary Hamel, Global Peter Drucker Forum, Vienna Austria The authors start by pointing out that John Kotter wrote a paper on “Leading Change” in 1996 (required MBA reading) where he highlighted that only 30% of change initiatives are ever actually successful. The reason is that there is a lack of commitment to drive a change of culture. Culture is created and solidified over time through expressed actions and reactions and not cooked up based on generic sounding mission statements that are disconnected from realContinue Reading

How are you?

Its time to stop asking “How Are You” and have a real conversation, as Dan Rockwell points out that it is time to stop using condescending or out of touch questions such as: How are you? How are you doing? How are you feeling? No one has good answers to these questions and any response you get will be superficial. If you want to connect and have a deeper conversation consider these questions next time: Tell me what challenges are you facing What are working on that is taking most of your time right now Is there something that you are really looking forward to at the moment What is top of the agenda for you today Is there anything that I can do to help you right now As Ashley Fetters wrote for The Atlantic ““How are you?” is a mere pleasantry and not an honest inquiry in searchContinue Reading

Google is one of the most sought after and popular employers in the world, so it is no surprise that there are a lot of article written about how they have built their culture. This article pulls together content from a number of sources to look at the management principles that Google has applied and why. According to the New York Times, people leave a company for one of three reasons or a combination of the three. The reasons are firstly that the individuals do not feel a deep connection with the company mission or feel that their work matters. Secondly a dislike for or lack of respect for their co-workers. Third, they have a terrible boss, which is the most common reason by a long way. “Managers also had a much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor“ Google fromContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article in HBR by Michael Beer, Published 22nd June 2020 Michael explains that most organisations today are dealing with massive strategic challenges that require a redefinition of purpose, identity, strategy, business model and even structure. Many if not most of these will fail and not because the strategy if flawed but rather the organisation does not have the ability to execute. He explains that he has seen six common interrelated reason for failures, referred to as ‘hidden barriers’ which make organisations ineffective. Hidden barrier #1: Unclear values and conflicting priorities Often, the underlying problem is not this or that strategy, but rather the process by which the strategy was formed — or the lack of any such process. In these cases, strategy is often developed by the leader along with the chief strategy or marketing executive and only then communicated to the rest of the senior teamContinue Reading

Twenty five years ago I almost ended up working with the Danish Wunderkind Martin Lindstrom (at the beginning of the dotcom bubble) in what was one of the first Digital Agencies, but I ended up taking a different path. Today Martin is recognised as a global leader in Digital Brand Marketing, with numerous books to his name, he is a regular columnist with Fast Company, Time Magazine and Harvard Business Review. This is a synopsis of an article on LinkedIn by Matin Lindstrom published 25th June 2020. With approximately 100 million users now logging into MSFT Teams every day (and many more on Zoom) the consideration that this way of working from home is the new normal has reached leaders at all levels of organisations around the world. Microsoft however, had been through the same experience four years ago, and the biggest issue was the loss of corporate culture. AContinue Reading