Your “strategy” bears the seeds of defeat. Create a “new sense of self”!

February 27, 2015 0 comments

My duty, when coaching, isn’t so much about teaching leaders new skills. It is to help them identify barriers (that they had once appropriately erected) or understand the self-inflicted “coping strategies” (that once were useful), which have now become unconscious burdens.

As Campbell’s Hero’s Journey suggests, one of the most painful challenges for a “leader of their own life” is to let go of a “winning formula”, which they have become so intimate with, that they see it as a part of themselves.

A lot of my work is to help clients unlearn some of their unconscious “automatisms”, let them realize the beliefs that they started to develop about themselves and the mask they have shaped for the outside world. My mission, when I coach is to “give a new sense of self” to my clients.

“Give a new sense of self”? That is exactly how Strategist Gary Hamel sees his mission when he advises business leaders on the design of their strategy…

How does Gary Hamel help his clients do that? “By staring down their orthodoxies and determine that they are not going to be bound by them anymore”. In his excellent interview by Strategy & Business (an old interview from… 1997 but so actual), Gary Hamel talks about “insight” (as Jay Rao does in this clip brought to you late last year) and mentions that “The reason for a company’s blindness is an unwillingness or inability to look outside of current experiences”… This is exactly the same for individuals: It is far more comfortable to remain in our comfort zone, or unconscious “automatic pilot”, than question ourselves.

Gary Hamel suggests three rules, which I find as valid for individual coaching than for “strategizing”:

  • “Systematically deconstruct orthodoxies and dogmas that rule a business”: This is exactly why we, at Enablers, claim that “We believe that our clients’ success is a function of the quality of their interactions, thinking patterns, behaviours and dialogues”. In the same way, that a coachee will not identify their implicit beliefs nor see the mask they have been using for so long, simply by talking to friends, family or people who collude with them, an organization will not understand its hidden dogmas by calling in “orthodoxy consultants”… It is the quality of its dialogues, the invitation by the leaders to be challenged and questioned at appropriate moments, the emergence of a high challenge/high support culture that will ensure that, little by little the right questions will be asked, that difficult conversations will be held and that challenge will be seen as a sign of engagement. As Gary Hamel says: “The Future is more often created by heretics than by prophets”… Leaders, protect your heretics!
  • “Develop a deeper sense of self, one that frees a company to do something that it would not have conceived of doing before”: “Man is limited not so much by his tools but by his vision” said management “guru” Richard Pascale. “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” explained Ludwig Wittgenstein. Steinerians believe that students already possess knowledge when they join their schools and that the work of their professors is to let it out rather than inculcate it… What Hamel also means here, is that a company needs to go back to understand its core competence, which for a human being amounts to their Deep Intent. Nokia fared well as long as it lived “Connecting people”. It died when it started to think of itself as a smartphone manufacturer. At Enablers we believe that our Deep Intent is to “support our clients to remain masters of their own destiny, in an increasingly complex and sometimes chaotic environment”. It leaves us with a lot to think of.
  • “Understand the discontinuities in the environment that can be leveraged for remaking the structure of an industry to your advantage”: That is what the Disruption Economy is about! My partners and I strongly believe that “Scanning the periphery and recognizing emerging trends faster than competition are critical skills” to be develop by our clients. This is valid for individual leaders as well as for whole organizations. When Roselinde Torres asks her three questions (1/ Where are you looking, to anticipate change? 2/ What is the diversity measure of your network? 3/ Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?) it is because people who cultivate true diversity (not the politically correct B.S. that too many companies waste their time with), curiosity and are emphatic bridge builders will be in a better position than the narrow minded, transactional and full of certainties heroes of the past…

Everybody wants to be more innovative. Everybody dreams of creating disruptions or at least hopes not to be its next victim. But that “strategy” will only be the consequence of the major shift in thinking patterns, awareness and culture that you will create in your organizations. And, as we say in our front page statement: “Our clients should not outsource such leading edge skills to consultants or specialists. They need to learn to practice them…”

  • It is collusion that kills our organizations!

    February 12, 2015 5 comments

    “What do President Obama, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, and Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, former CEO of Nokia all have in common? All three had ambitious and laudable strategies (universal healthcare for the U.S.A., dominating the world software industry and dominating the mobile phone industry respectively), yet all three had serious difficulties in executing their strategies successfully.” This is how Insead Associate…

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  • Complication kills productivity and engagement

    February 6, 2015 2 comments

    NO! I did not fall in love with B.C.G. (Boston Consulting Group), BUT I must admit that, for the second time in a few weeks, a B.C.G. partner makes a TED-X speech that I find worth sharing with you! (brought to my attention by Jean-Pierre Fonta, heading a consultancy specialized in marketing/go to market for pharma industry) Yves Morieux is…

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  • Your drive for efficiency gets in the way of results!

    January 30, 2015 2 comments

    It has now been decades since globalization has become the norm for businesses reaching a certain size. Ever since, we have heard leaders explain how challenging the phenomenon of leading a “remote” or “virtual” team is. And in fact, it is. “How do I create an alignment in values, objectives, interests, strategies across borders, cultures and beliefs?” “How do I…

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  • Blessings for an engaged and impactful 2015!

    December 27, 2014 0 comments

    “Blessings for an engaged and impactful 2015!” were the wishes I received from our US partner, Bob Devlin. I found them original and in line with what we preach and believe in, at work. And my mind started to wonder: What kind of people will create engagement and impact in 2015 and later? I started thinking of ordinary and uncelebrated…

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  • Which kind of Apostles will I be in 2015?

    December 18, 2014 2 comments

    A few months ago, my daughter and I were invited in Rome for a speech on my book. During our free time, we visited the “Eternal City”. We are not religious but have a strong respect for the believers, as long as they do not feel obliged to rape, torture and kill in the name of their faith and have…

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  • How can I fly like an eagle when I am surrounded by turkeys?

    December 12, 2014 0 comments

    I always loved this provocative “question”, symbol of contentment and leadership arrogance, that one of my ex-colleagues loved to use, in order to help well intentioned leaders realize that, maybe, they were part of the problem that they were complaining about… We all know leaders, honestly convinced that they have done their best to empower their organization: The strategy had…

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  • The demise of the invulnerable leader

    December 5, 2014 6 comments

    Maybe was it synchronicity? A dramatic article and a book, both having the theme of bullying in the background, were offered to me recently. In a November 2014 “The New-Yorker” article, Allen Kurzweil recalls the traumatic experience he lived as ten years old, in a British Private School, located in Switzerland. Having briefly been a boarder in a catholic, boys…

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  • Are you, as an individual, ready to lead in the Disruption Economy?

    November 28, 2014 2 comments

    Now, if even the “usual suspects” in strategy consultancies (who still hire people mainly on quantitative tests as far as they are concerned) are getting into the arena of Leadership Development and telling others how they should do it differently, this may mean that those firms start to understand the vital importance of human capital and leadership or… that business…

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  • Emotional vs Facts based memory

    November 21, 2014 8 comments

    I am just walking out of the office of a young and successful C.E.O. in France. He spoke at length about his organization and was surprised, almost disappointed, that, by the end of the 90’ meeting, I hadn’t taken many notes of what he had explained, with pride and passion. “You have an amazing capacity for Story Telling, did I…

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  • Welcome to the “Experience based Advertising”

    November 15, 2014 4 comments

    I understand that, if you are London based, you may have come across this type of surprising advertising (I suggest you switch the sound off as the comment is in French and unnecessarily disruptive). The first three extracts made me reflect: Rather than requesting a “passive consumption” mode from the public, they engage it, through being emotionally part of the…

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