January 19, 2018

Archives for March 2013

The trouble with profiling

Informal meetingWell, one of the troubles with profiling…

In forming teams, it’s a good idea to bring together complementary skills and personality types. Diversity brings performance, though it may not be comfortable at first.

So we reach for the psychometric tests—how handy to be able to profile people and select them for roles in teams.

But there’s a problem…

Actually, probably several problems, but let’s focus on one…

Unless we’re very careful, the use of profiling strengthens the belief in team members that they don’t need to change; that they don’t need to develop their flexibility. After all, they’ve been told they’re an xyz, and perhaps even encouraged to play to their profile, to be an xyz to the full—to avoid flexibility, in fact.

In letting this situation persist, we make a fundamental error…

For a team to be successful, it needs to learn, and for a team to learn, it needs its members to be searching out their individual development, not staying in their boxes.

Otherwise one of the conditions for learning and growth in an organisation—personal mastery (responsibility for one’s own change)—isn’t present.

We’ve taken it away with our profiling.

Are we too busy justifying ourselves to let knowledge in?

Woman making an emphatic pointIt’s a curious thing…

When we have someone with knowledge or authority in front of us, do we get them talking in order to learn as much as we can from their expertise? Or do we take more of the airtime ourselves, because we feel a greater need to explain what we have done and why?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of paying for someone else’s expertise and then filling the space with our own information; not letting them get close enough to make a difference.

Why does this happen?

It feels safer, I suppose, to discuss the familiar, even if the familiar is the problem, and the unfamiliar is the answer, or part of the road to the answer.

Are you too busy justifying yourself to let people help you?

It’s smarter to let knowledge in.

We don’t laugh at the majority

High Street sceneWe don’t laugh at the majority, because the majority has power.

And we don’t laugh at power, because it’s dangerous. It might throw us out.

But we do laugh at minorities, because minorities are weak.

And we do laugh at weakness because it’s safe.

Minorities are different, and different is funny. Really, it is. Unexpected difference is the basis of humour.

Yes, I know, you’re horrified to think you’re involved.

But we all do it, because it’s everywhere. It’s in our culture and our language, and it’s unconscious, in our norms, the little jokes. Sure, we’re mindful in some areas. But not in others.

Sometimes it’s the little, subtle things that hurt, not the big ones, because we don’t notice, but they do.

I know I’ve made these mistakes. It’s a lifelong effort, learning to avoid them.

For all of us perhaps.

How consistent is your business?

Group of business peopleOr you could say, “How congruent?”

Let’s focus on the individual first…

A congruent person is one whose behaviour is a consistent reflection of their values and beliefs, and their sense of identity. Some of these values and beliefs may be in tension with each other, but they will be held in balance. What the person actually does will consistently reflect that chosen balance point.

To us, they seem “sorted” and very present. We may well be drawn to them. And their results will speak for themselves. Their clarity gives them a power.

A congruent business or organization then is one whose behaviour is a reflection of a consistent set of values and beliefs, reconciled to a chosen point of balance—for example, between cost and quality.

And just as with an individual…

We know what a congruent business stands for. It has a clear brand presence. We may well be drawn to it. And its results will speak for themselves.

Moreover, the business’s people will be able to take their lead from that consistency.

Here’s the thing…

Lose the connection between the values (like cost and quality) your business needs to hold in balance and you won’t have a congruent business. And your people can’t help but amplify that lack of congruence. After all, they have more than one master to serve.

And your brand will suffer.

A change to lead then is increasing the congruence in your business.

And, of course, it’ll need to start with you.

Are you looking in the right place?

Man thinking, looking upwardIt’s a conditioned reaction…

Anything nebulous, intangible and “irrational” we want to fit into familiar tangible, rational and logical processes, usually in the form of paperwork or information on a screen. Then we can process the result, and we can share it with other people.

Or we think we can…

In fact, we might be working in the wrong channel, and looking in the wrong place.

Frequently, the answer we need lies in the intangible, hard-to-pin-down domain of the unconscious mind. To find that answer, we need to stay in that perhaps uncomfortable, not-really-knowing, not-really-in-control, but ultimately more powerful place. Eventually, we can set down what comes to us in the familiar tools of professional and business life, but only once we have the answer, not before.

We can’t map a circular unconscious process onto a linear conscious one and expect the same results. Our subject-verb-object language, among other things, isn’t up to the job.


If we are to be looking in the right place, we need to trust our unconscious processes—our intuition, if you will—and not shift everything into the conscious domain too soon. For most of us, trusting our unconscious is counter to our conditioning and so likely to be a useful muscle to develop.

Does a close relationship help or hinder profit on a contract?

Group in discussion at a computerIt’s likely you’ll have an immediate response to that question. But is it actually so simple? And is your response the same as everyone else’s?

From the opposite perspective, we could equally ask, “Does a close relationship help or hinder cost-effective procurement?”

Again, there maybe isn’t a unanimous, clear-cut answer.

It is noticeable that when contracts get in difficulty, the parties tend to act as if being tough will maximise their outcome (or minimise their loss) and so they retreat from connection with the other party. They fear that building or rebuilding relationship with the other side will hurt their financial position, because they’ll then be obliged to concede.

But is that really the case?

It could be that working on the relationship is the very thing that enables them to achieve a more favourable outcome, especially if they are the ones taking the initiative, or even for both sides to succeed in their goals, perhaps by broadening the parameters of the conversation.

What do you think?

If things get difficult on a contract, are you better to go transactional and tough or to build bridges, or something else?

Is that it?

Woman reflectingProbably, yes.

It seems we’re conditioned to expect complicated answers to problems. And yet, when it comes to issues relating to other people, it’s often the simple things that make the difference—sometimes so simple they seem hard to get hold of at all, almost not real.

Why is that?

Well, it’s because our unconscious minds are running the show, on both sides—determining our emotions, among other things—and they play by different rules. Our unconscious minds are child-like in nature and react accordingly. Simple changes are the ones that connect and influence outcomes. Paradoxically, that’s where the power is.

So, if you think you’ve identified a change that might make the difference, and yet you’re thinking “Is that it?”…

It probably is it. Try it and see.

Save the complicated thinking stuff for another time. If you’re heading more that way, you’re going in the wrong direction.

Sustaining a purpose

Three people, two shaking handsHow do you keep it going?

How do you build your earnings to sustain what you are doing without compromising your leadership “mission” (if that’s the right word)? If you’re not careful, you end up contracted to deliver something that’s at odds with what you see as important, because sometimes money flows more easily to sustain the status quo than to facilitate change.

But if you do it well, you can attract the revenue you need to sustain your mission, assuming it has fundamental merit of course.

So what makes the difference?

1. Articulating your message clearly enough.

2. Committing to what you have to say—going beyond the point of no return—accepting the risk of it not working out.

3. Living the principles you espouse.

In short, being real. Then you attract the right people and the right resources.

Oh and finding how your approach meets the customer’s need at a higher level, as in, “Here’s another, more sustainable way to achieve what you ultimately want.”

What’s your experience of this?

Someone has the answer: The question is do you want it?

Group of people talkingOr would you rather keep searching yourself?

It’s tempting to say “Of course we want the answer if someone else has it”?

But do we really?

Sometimes the loss of face, the embarrassment, or the hurt to our ego is too much to bear, and we avoid seeing what’s offered.

Of course it’s good to look for our own answers.

Sometimes though…

We’ll get a better outcome if we put our pride to one side and accept someone else’s wisdom.

That’s a kind of personal mastery, and an act of an inspirational leader.