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23 July, 2020

The Lily Pad Values Model

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My You Tube channel - Leadership Coach - can be found here

For those of a geek persuasion I made this presentation in Zoho Show and saved it as a powerpoint and converted it to png file format with the converter at this link.

21 July, 2020

The language of power and inequality in education and leadership

Word of Mouth is a Radio 4 series and by pure chance I heard this episode this afternoon.  it is a really thought provoking discussion, much of it focused on education but with wider implications about how a multicultural society can work and how much needs to be done.

If you are interested in improving your leadership, getting a deeper understanding of communication issues and better cultural appreciation then this is really worth listening too.  The link is here.

More About Hope

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Pandora's Box

One of my guilty pleasures is listening to "In Our Time" and whilst I was doing some ironing I happened across this whole episode about hope.  Originally in the 8th Century BCE hope was the only attribute that stayed in Pandora's Box when she took the lid off of it.The programme follows how our conception of hope has changed in the 29 centuries since then and it spends quite a while examining the medieval period.  It is entertaining and complex at the same time and worth a listen if you like to know exactly how things developed on a philosophical level.  A link to the show is here. There are also the other 899 episodes of the show at this link 


Mission Impossible

In Mission Impossible Fallout (spoiler alert) Ethan Hunt says to his new CIA companion we will just have to hope that the White Widow hasn't met hin [John Lark] to which he, Walker, replies "hope is not a strategy".  Ilsa chimes in "you're new here aren't you."


In Our Time concludes that the modern version of hope could be more like what we talk about as Vision but in order to make our vision happened we need the resources, a firm grasp of reality and the will to take action and realise our vision.

I leave it to you whether you prefer Pandora or Ethan Hunt!

15 July, 2020

Grief & Change

Grief Cycle.

 When I was Commanding Officer of the ARTD   Leadership School (ASLS) I sat in many times   on the presentation about grief.  One of the   reasons behind setting up ASLS was to change   the culture of Army training and to understand   the motivations and anxieties of modern 21st   Century Army recruits.  This presentation was   complemented by one that dealt with suicide   and self harm, which was pretty graphic.  It also   introduced the grief cycle.  This was developed   from the work of Kubler-Ross after she   published her book On Death and Dying in 1969. In July 2020 the BBC summarised her work and influence and that article is here.

Five Stages

This book which has come in for academic criticism is widely quoted as developing a system of 5 stages of grief.  This model, and models are only ways in which to simplify and then understand the real world, is usually presented as 5 stages.  Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining and Acceptance.  Notwithstanding the criticism many people find this a useful guide to understanding the process of grieving.  I certainly found it useful when bereaved and have suggested to others as a way of understanding the process they are going through.  Loss is a natural part of life and working life too and the modern leader has to deal with colleagues who have lost a loved one.  The Kubler-Ross model was adapted to wider circumstances of loss and this was another facet of the presentation that I mentioned at the beginning.  Failure in training happens as it does elsewhere in life, notably the Kubler-Ross model was applied to athletes that had suffered career ending injuries and trainers could use the adapted grief cycle to understand how to advise and counsel people who had failed at something major in the organization. 

In my view there is also a possible correllation to the stages of this with the key elements of Values Based Leadership.  I'll talk about that a bit more in another post.

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Grief and Change Models

You can use either of these models to identify where you and colleagues stand in relation to change or to get your communications right at the appropriate stage.  Any change causes anxiety amongst most colleagues whether they like admit it or not.  As a leader consider how you will communicate the change.  How much has already got into the public domain?  What has the rumor mill been saying?  The Wikipedia article on Kubler-Ross can be found here.

Not everyone has the same outlook

I was present at a briefing to all staff in 2009 about the closure of the barracks where we all worked.  Whilst there was clearly shock and some anger the mood was lightened at question time when a female employee got up and stated that she had arrived in 1971 and all her friends had advised her against the job as the rumor was that the barracks was due to close in 1972,  True to form it took nearly another 10 years before the place was emptied and handed over.

To finish with Kubler-Ross it is worth noting that there is a Foundation in her name and that this answers some of the criticism that has been levelled at the original model. On a practical level both versions of the model are useful, once the context of their development is understood, and they can be used by leaders to inform themselves of dealing with grief amongst colleagues in all of its forms.

01 July, 2020

Visions of Things That can Be.

Visualisation - Vision

One way of working to establish a clear vision for yourself or your organisation is to visualise the future.  This can help crystalise the thought process and develop a well formed outcome that can become the Vision for you for the next week, next year or even the rest of your life. A similar process is used by Native Americans called a vision quest which involves cutting yourself off from others for a while, travelling to a peaceful location and letting nature guide you to find an answer.  This may be a too time consuming for many but visualising the future can be much quicker it is just a question of how to ensure the visualisation is purposeful and not merely a day dream.

Visualisation - Blue Trees

Many people say they have trouble with visualising things so here are a few tips.

  • ·         Don’t think of a blue tree.  Try your absolute hardest not to picture a blue tree.  It is difficult not to picture a blue tree – right?
  • ·         Make sure you are the star of your visualisation.
  • ·         Make your visualisation into a movie, with technicolour and sound track.
  • ·         Experiment with the picture, see what it looks like when you make it black and white or mute the volume.
  • ·         Look around in your virtual world and see what else is there, are you in a familiar place or somewhere new?

Once you have got your visualisation you can then use it.  The GAP method mentioned in my last post lets you experiment with different situations and practice your reaction to them. The best thing to do according to the research is to visualise challenges and develop how you respond to them.  Now come out of the visualisation and write down your learnings so that you can turn them into actions.

Still having issues visualising? There are plenty of guided meditations on the internet and one I use is called Future Self – The Beach by Diane Lindsey.  She has plenty of others on various platforms but here is a link to this guided meditation on Insight Timer

Visualisation How much detail should I include?

The answer is as much as possible.  Wayne Rooney, the international footballer and currently captain of Derby County has been using visualisation since before he became a professional player.  This article from 2012 explains more 

And perhaps his success in the game has helped to make the idea of visualisation common practice.  It is of course no substitute for physical training in sport but your brain can’t tell the difference between your visualisation and the real situation so you are doubly prepared for the situation you are visualising.

Visualisation Golf Vietnam

A story that I have often heard and presumed to be an urban legend was of a Prisoner of War using visualisation to play his favourite course and returning at the end of the war to break the course record.  A bit of research proved that although the version I had heard was embellished.  Colonel Hall did use visualisation to keep his skills and sanity whilst imprisoned for eight years in Vietnam.  He recalls that as he had no golf club he had to concentrate on his hands.  Six weeks after his release as a POW he played in a Pro-Am tournament.  Here is a link to an interview that he gave about his experiences.

Visualisation 90% mental

Golf is 90% mental as are a lot of other sports and life in general.  As Commanding Officer of the Army’s Leadership School I always felt obliged to play in the annual golf tournament, despite being absolutely dreadful at the game.  One year I was paired with Jed Sparrow who if it was possible was slightly worse than me.  I always use to say that I can’t play golf but I can get you to play golf better so I tried it out on Jed.  Rather than the multiple instructions about positioning arms, legs, feet, head wrists and all the other instructions I used to get from a professional I got him to concentrate only on his hands.  I used a scaling technique (more in a future post) and much to his surprise and in truth a bit to mine he hit an absolutely wonderful shot that landed on the green!  Unfortunately we ran out of golf course before we could sort out his putting.