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We know that in a time of change there are no intrinsic opportunities or threats — there is only what happens and the ways we choose to respond.

We’ve also seen how this means that the key attitude that defines leadership in a time of change is the ability to see problems as opportunities. This is the attitude, for example, that enabled Alexander Fleming to turn a ‘failed’ lab experiment into life-saving penicillin. It enabled Levi Strauss to turn a stack of ‘unsellable’ tents into the world’s first blue jeans. …


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One of the mistaken assumptions we can easily make during a time of change is value judgments. When people don’t behave in the way we would like them to it is easy to judge them as being ‘bad’, ‘stupid’, or ‘unimportant’.

But there is huge a difference between what a person does and who a person is.

A story from ancient China illustrates how qualities and behaviours considered ‘bad’ in one situation can easily become ‘good’ in another:

“A city came under siege and for many weeks the people suffered. Day after day a notorious thief, locked up in jail, offered to help. …


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What do you do in a crisis? Do you freeze, fight, or take flight — or do you remain centred, calm, and focused on the present moment?

People with strong Inner Leadership skills, people who are antifragile, respond first by Centring themselves. Then they Ground themselves to reconnect strongly with who they are at their best so that they can bring their best skills and abilities to address the situation.

The simple technique that Inner Leadership recommends for grounding ourselves is called Anchoring.

The stronger you build your anchor, the better you will hold firm, no matter what kind of storm is raging around you. …


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In a world filled with change, it is often not the practical changes we find difficult — but rather the psychological or emotional letting go of the way the world used to be and the taking on of new roles, identities, and ways of being.

These psychological and emotional shifts are called transitions and they come in three stages.

The first stage is to let go of the way the world used to be and turn to face the future. The second is to take the first step into the unknown: leaving behind the security of the old world and taking the risk of building something new. …


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In this time of change your ability to create inspiration is essential: both for attracting people to your project and enthusing them to do more.

There is no one ‘right’ way of achieving this. But every inspiring vision is formed from the same basic building blocks. The third of these blocks is to ask your audience to make a choice: will they support you or will they not?

At first sight it might seem to make sense to push everyone to say “Yes.”

But the more you force people into supporting you now, the more effort you will have to put into convincing them again and again in the future, every time an issue arises. …


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Once we have used the ten types of opportunities to find ourselves new options for moving forward, our next task is to choose between them.

Peter Drucker had very a clear view about the best way to do this.

Drucker was an author and consultant whose thinking was so influential that it shaped the modern corporation. He said:

“Doing the right things is more important than doing things right.”

In other words, it is better to choose a difficult path towards the outcomes you want than an easy path to the wrong results — better to move slowly in the right direction than quickly in the wrong one, better to do the right things imperfectly than the wrong things well. …


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When George de Mestral returned from a walk one day and found his clothes and dog both covered in burrs he didn’t just remove them, he looked closely at how they stuck so tightly. And then he invented Velcro.

When engineers building a tunnel through a Japanese mountain found they had a problem with leaking water they didn’t just seal the leaks, they bottled the water, sold it as mineral water, and built a brand worth more than $50m/year.

When Travis Kalanick and a friend couldn’t get a taxi in Paris one day they didn’t just complain about it, they founded Uber. …


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Many years ago, a man set off with his son to walk to market, taking their donkey with them. On the way they passed through several villages.

At the first village the people laughed at them. “You are so stupid”, they said, “one of you should ride the donkey.” That seemed like a good idea, so the son got on the donkey and on they walked.

Then they came to the second village. “How terrible”, the villagers called out, “forcing an old man to walk while the young man takes it easy. The old man should ride!” …


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Lao Tzu said:

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

We cannot change the past. And in a time of churning and change we certainly can’t predict the future — not even if we have the resources of a billionaire, a prime minister, a president, or a CEO. (Just look at what has happened already this year!)

So if we cannot change the past and we cannot control the future, the best outcome we can hope for is to live more fully in the now — in the past-ure. …


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Dee Hock founded the Visa credit card company using an organisation structure he calls chaordic: a mixture of chaos and order that has proved to be extremely successful over the years.

In a recent article he talked about how he sees the organisation of the future.

He said:

“The organization of the future will be the embodiment of community based on shared purpose calling to the higher aspirations of people.”

Let’s unpack what this means.

  • “The organisation of the future will be based on shared purpose.”
    Shared purpose increases motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity. A 2016 survey of technology companies showed that employees at Tesla and SpaceX had the lowest paid and most stressful jobs but also the most meaningful and inspiring: their shared purpose outweighed the higher stress and lower pay. …

About

Finn Jackson

Oxford physicist, Computer simulator, Strategy consultant, Corporate strategist/change agent, Management Author. Strategy and leadership in times of change.

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