Power Talking Webinar, 9th April 2019, hosted by Gary Thomas

Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 10:00 AM Berlin Time – One Hour
Registration deadline: Saturday, 6th April 2019 Berlin Time.
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George Walther – Power Talk

In this webinar SIETAR Germany’s Gary Thomas will take a look at power talking and how it can impact and influence ourselves, those we lead, our peers, our partners and our environment.

Power Talking is a system of using common words to create uncommonly positive outcomes, developed in the USA by George Walther. The phrase he uses to define this concept is ‘What you say is what you get’.

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Congratulations on International Women’s Day – A piece of inspiration by Seyda Buurman – Kutsal

The Achievements of Women

Today I am celebrating the former and future achievements of women worldwide in their battle for equality and respect, and against bias.

Is this just for woman? Of course not. In the contrary, there is an important role in this for men.

If you ever attended one of my trainings you will remember: a battle for the rights of a minority is more likely to have a positive outcome when the majority fights for it. And yes, men are actually still a minority in the Netherlands, by numbers. (in 2018 the Netherlands counted 8,527610 men and 8,654043 women according to CBS, worldwide there are actually more men than women according to Human Development Report of United Nations). So you can’t lean back and relax. International women’s day is your business too, or of your partner or your son or your male leader’s.

One of the positive examples that I know is Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. Another example is the company Gillette with their advertisement campaign for razors where they chose to make a clear statement about the attitude and position that is taught to and about boys. Yes, it is an advertisement by a company and still, they did not have to make a critical social statement but they chose to. Just like the company Nike with their new add about crazy dreams of women. Have a look at the Gillette ad here and the Nike ad here

I would like to hear from you about your good examples!

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day in the Netherlands is “heroine”

Prominent, invisible, dead and alive, great and small. We all know them because in each town and in every village there are and were heroines. Heroines who have been fighting for equal rights for women and their fellow human beings in a special way.

You can remember, honour, congratulate, salute, encourage them or give them a voice.

One of my heroines is Jane Elliott, the founder of the workshop Brown Eyed Blue Eyed. During our conversation last week, she told me that she is nowhere near being ready with her fight against discrimination.

She received the honorary doctorate from the University of Northern Iowa in December last year for a lifetime of determination to make a change in people’s ideology. She finds it disturbing. According to her, it is not a great achievement for a University to give another white, privileged person an honorary doctorate. How seldom does this happen? She sees greater importance in honouring the efforts of so many people of colour for their achievements and efforts. For this reason, she is now thinking about refusing the next doctorate which is going to be offered later this year from another University.

My other heroine is my mother. She taught me to take myself seriously as a woman and to believe in my power. As a single mother she raised two children in a warm and safe home. This was in surroundings that were neither friendly for migrants or for a divorced woman either. She offered one of the first intercultural sewing and cooking classes for mixed groups of women. It was a way to provide dialogue between them and to get to know each other’s culture and language. She did this on top of her fulltime job in a factory. Even today she is my rock, making my work possible by being there with my family while I am out here, working with you.

Who is your heroine? I would be excited to hear about her!

And which heroines do you share and tell others about? I found a book with some great examples to read to (grand)kids, to to use in class, give as a gift to nephews and nieces, or, just to read for yourself:

2017, Elena Favilli, Particular Books

Women in leadership

There is something about women in leadership positions. I have been asked repeatedly if I have a programme for this issue. In the last couple of months I have been working for a couple of clients who kept landing on the same question over and over again: how can we learn from female leadership instead of teaching women to adjust. The outcomes were special and very successful. I am converting them in to a new training course right now. I’ll keep you updated about it in my next mail. And no, the training is not ‘women only’!

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Author – Şeydâ Buurman-Kutsal

Supervising | Training | Advisor

Contant – Mobile phone; +31-6 27 40 66 61

Inspiration – What Can We Learn From Inspirational Leaders? And, Why Isn’t The Average Worker Joe Just As Driven As Them?

And, What can the Average Working Joe do about this?

Have you ever observed the energy, focus, and peaceable state of the truly inspired and inspiring leader? Hopefully you will have worked closely with someone on their way up or an exceptional person pursuing excellence – Passionately radiating light, wisdom and enthusiasm to all those around them.

In this piece, we will explore what the phenomenon of inspiration is all about and answer some of the questions you may have about how these remarkable people came to be great in the first place, why some of us mere mortals are not so inspired, and, in closing, we will bring it all together to see what can be borrowed or stolen from these shining stars for our own amusement, benefit and improvement.

11 Qualities Of An Inspirational Leader

  1. Focus

The common factor linking all inspirational people is single-mindedness. Question – If I ask you today, what one industrial sector, single product or service would you focus on, to the exclusion of all other things for 7 days a week for the next 10 years, what would you select?

Answer – If you came up with anything just now, you may have the potential to join the pantheon of greats. If you felt scarce, fearful or overwhelmed when faced with making a critical choice and excluding all other things, then you are… NORMAL!

The vast majority of us wish to keep our options open, hedge our bets – Indeed we believe that risk is reduced this way. The price we pay for our safety is that we will never make a Steve Jobs’ sized dent in the universe.

It is laser focus excluding all distractions, (along with some of the other factors described below) that differentiates the truly inspiring leader.

  1. Work Hard Play Hard, Or Just Work Hard?

Magazine profiles of successful people mostly contain visceral descriptions of their wealthy, comfortable and luxurious life styles and the extraordinary benefits, exclusive access and general privilege that they now enjoy.

These puff pieces miss the point.

The formula for sustained success is abstinence, self-control, frugality and temperance. The venal and self-indulgent tend to be entitled brats – The offspring of dynasties or “clogs to brogues” parents. Many of these silver spooned party animals will end up in jail, rehab or sitting injured having wrapped their luxury car around a tree.

It is not about the trappings.

These can be seen as simply a visible measure of success (as if life was a video game.) The other end of the showing off scale is more useful to observe. Warren Buffett, the most successful investor of all time, lives nowhere, in an average house and drives an average car – And, he is the best.

Sustained hard work requires that we move beyond laziness, passivity and inaction. Once we have conquered our lethargy, the next demon temptation to be resisted is giving in too early to the rewards of our initial success – Victory lies in restraint. We must win out over our primitive lust to consume and our need to alter our psychological state. If we can get passed this, then we reach the final, where we are asked to… conquer ourselves. Success will amplify our essential personality. If you are an asshole now, then building a global empire will turn you into a world-class asshole. Many would look at the lives of Zuckerberg or Gates and find them dull (who wants to wear a grey T shirt every day or spend 10 years + coding?) Their stimulation and psychological pay off came from turning ideas into innovation and having that innovation take hold, and, then be super adopted by the world. And, through making an impact on a scale that only they could ever have believed in. Formula – Hard work, discipline, focus, single-mindedness, etc. etc.

concept of success in business: many members of the business tea

Who is inspirational?

  1. Being an Agent of Change

Question – Are you more inspired by a humble hard working entrepreneur’s eventual success or by a brash and vulgar show-off? Answer – Your reaction probably says more about you than them. Industrial growth requires a blend of just the right amount of God Complex and hard work, combined with an exhibition and demonstration of repeatable behaviours, shown to acolytes as the inspiring leaders radiates out their model of winning behaviours that others can then copy and carry out on a vast scale and at great pace. The leader is a working role model, modelling the best version of what is possible to be picked up, adopted and multiplied by their followers. You are only a leader if others choose to follow and you must be relatable in the workspace, so that average Working Joe will want to join your club. With this formula your crowd of fans will grow in devotion aiming to emulate your example.

The inspiring leader must be seen to be working harder than their staff, contributing more input, and, generating plenty of unique output connected to measurable success. It is this loop that deepens the tribe’s faith in the leader’s brand, myth and legend and so carries the crowd on a cushion of trust and belief to perform with excellence, even when the boss is not present.

  1. Engagement & Delegation

Over the years I have had the privilege to work with some of the greats. They are, mostly, easy to talk to, charismatic and fluent, clear and simple in their communication style, and, generous with their time and attention. They appear to have plenty of free mind space and intellectual bandwidth. They indulge the newbie with curiosity, constructive enquiry and emanate encouragement. In fact, they often skip Blanchard’s “Tell” phase (from his Situational Leadership model) and move right along to inspirational coaching.

They use a mechanism.

No man is an island. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and, you need a lot of people to build a cathedral. Inspiring leaders know that it is about inducting people to your vision, your version and your club. Then, it is about engaging the hearts and minds of your new acolytes. Now comes the ordinary bit – Thinking up and organising what the new, high potential worker bees will actually be doing. This turns a visionary blue print for world domination into an on the ground, reality based, work project.

  1. Passion

Heads of Global web platforms, dominant software companies, World beating manufacturers, super financial institutions, or, far-reaching retailers have something in common – They understand their subject matter and domain to the highest possible level. And, these leaders are able to communicate, despite the complexity of their sector, in a way that is hypnotically engaging, authentically exciting, and clearly, beneficial to their new workers and the end customer. This level of depth is achieved not ascribed. They must hone their vision and translate their dream into the most inspiring story and present this to all around them with a deep and insightful knowledge of the hopes, fears, dreams and aspirations of their audience. They must sing a song that everyone wants to hum along to.

  1. A Natural Born Influencer

Great leaders can emerge from the best of backgrounds or the worst. Both tracks end at the same station. Managed privilege can lead to “Nobless oblige” and the self-fulfilment of an in-group’s high expectations. Here many hot-housed princelings rise to the gold standard. They do so combining effort and access. Along the way they must develop resilience, confidence and pick up the secrets of success, whispered exclusively to members of their rarefied club.

In contrast, the 7th born of 9, brought up in poverty in the countryside can, in exceptional circumstances, rise up from obscurity to become something of note. With contrarian will, these extraordinary outliers grab their lucky break with both hands (finding a sponsor / mentor / conducing work environment) and work twice as hard as their peers, to make progress up the greasy pole. Think old Hollywood, Gerry Robinson (CEO of the Granada group of companies) or the stories of Billy Connolly coming from the slums of Glasgow.

  1. Obsession Obsession Obsession

What else but a pure and constructive form of obsession could have you loose everything TWICE, and, still want to get back on your entrepreneurial horse and try again? Their drive is unnatural and is not solely motivated by the goal itself but by their deep, burning and unanswerable question – “Am I good enough?” “Will I live up to my peer’s expectations?” “I am worthy?” “Am I loved?” Or, they are whipped by a mantra every waking hour – “I will never be poor again” “I will never go hungry again” “No one will laugh at my failure ever again” “I must be the best at this one thing” “Nothing will stop me” etc.

The consequence of these, quite frankly, unhealthy and exhausting drivers is a forged determination for progress, growth and forward momentum that laughs in the face of doubt, fatigue or taking an easier path.

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  1. Purpose

The marriage of drive and discovery produces purpose – An all-consuming engine of work, invention, implementation and problem solving – Getting up, dusting yourself off and starting again and again and again.

Their purpose can be simple. If you wish your men to build a ship, inspire them with a vision of a far off and exotic land.

The inspiring leader’s vision must be clear, relevant, believable and achievable. We forget that Kennedy’s “We will land on the moon” speech was made almost a decade before the moon landings actually happened.

The inspirational leader begins with the why? Why this is important. Why does it matter? Why the benefits outweigh the risks, cost and effort. And, why change needs to happen.

Then comes the what? – Of before, and, the what? of after – Contrast is important in converting a speech into an effective instrument of inspiration.

Then, in small release batches, comes the how? – The method, route and many problem busting solutions.

  1. The Iceberg Leader

We need to remember that whilst we see the share price, the mansion and, maybe, choose to envy the lifestyle, we do not see the 1000s of hours and all the failures and defeats that went into creating the leader’s success evident today. We need to be reminded that they started in their parent’s garage. We do not focus on the multiple rejections that the inspirational leader suffered and successfully recovered from or the 99 other people who attempted the same thing and are now living in modest obscurity – Their version being one of the many versions that did not go on to be adopted by the masses. The current dignity and poise of our hero belies the struggle, the price paid and the pain overcome.

They laughed in the rain long before you saw them smiling in the sunshine.

Competition in business

The Iceberg Leader

  1. Why is Worker Joe Less Inspired or Inspiring than our Hero Leader?

Great question – You probably come from neither privilege nor poverty. You were not programmed by fear or favour. You were not drilled in hard work or subjected to punishments that needed to be escaped. Worker Joe was programmed for compliance, loyalty, community and belonging. Worker Joe was conditioned to settle for a quieter life, a safe life or one where physical and emotional pleasure came at the weekend and became the measure of happiness and success.

Not everyone is destined to be inspirational. In fact, if everyone became an entrepreneurial legend, then…who would muck out the stables or run the machines busily extruding plastic widgets?

  1. What Can Worker Joe Learn From The Inspirational Leader?

At last, we get to the payoff! The inspirational leader naturally assumed their place. For them, there never seemed a choice in this, or, a viable alternative. The same cannot be said of Worker Joe.

But Worker Joe can change.

Worker Joe can follow the inspirational leader’s behavioural formula, think like they do, drive hard like them and communicate like them too. Each moment or sentence is possible. Putting them all together though and sustaining action and momentum? – That is a different matter.

For you, there is now more thinking, choosing and voluntary sacrifice to contemplate before you decide to step up, step into the inspirational leader’s shoes, and, begin the long and hard journey to the top.

Are you ready to face yourself? If you wish to attempt the process of becoming an inspirational leader, it will be conscious and more difficult than it was for the people born to sit in the hot seat.

If you feel like trying on the cloak, do please reflect upon and answer some of the questions below…

Question 1 – If you had to choose to do one thing and one thing only for the next 20 years, what would it be? Where would it be? Who would be involved? And, why would you choose it? (And what sacrifices would you willingly make to stay on that path?)

Question 2 – Have you ever had the discipline to move beyond physical and emotional gratification to achieve something higher and more worthwhile? What was it? Did you stay the course and complete your journey? Did it pay off? And, are you prepared to step up, scale up and risk all by having another go now?

Question 3 – Have you ever succeeded in inspiring those around you (friends, colleagues or family) to attempt something new? Have you jumped up on a chair and broadcast your vision with passion, using the best of your persuasive abilities to inspire a hungry crowd? And, did it work? Did they buy into the future you were selling? Did they follow you? Did they take action? BTW – Did you get a big rush out of it? And, do you want to repeat that experience many times over?

How do you feel about your answers?

Action

If you wish to have a conversation about inspirational leadership and learn more about our courses and coaching, then do call Matthew Hill today, leaving your details and availability on 07540 65 9995.

And, Please like, share and forward to the star in your tribe… Thank you.

About the Author

Matthew Hill is a coach, trainer, keynote speaker, author and, sometime leader of talent. He teaches and works with some of the largest companies in the world as well as helping young talent, SME companies and independent thinkers. His first book – Learn how to LEAD; Believe, Behave & Become was published in 2012 and is available now on Kindle.

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Collaboration Post 3 – 15 Collaborative Behaviours To Change Your Group’s Outcomes

Collaborate or Die

We are meant to play nicely, work as a team and respect each other. In Part 1, we expanded on 10 reasons why this often fails to happen.

In this Part 3, we now look at the key desirable behaviours that, when practiced mindfully and regularly, WILL produce a team breakthrough, get the group to the goal and leave everyone alive, and, at least on speaking terms at the end.

As you move through the behaviours, ask yourself, “Do I do this? “Can I start doing this?” And, “Will I step up and do this regularly?”

15 Strong Suggestions

  1. Interrupt your dark defensive moments and fill them with light.

Experienced in so many ways as sarcasm, denial, anger, avoidance and justification, defensiveness – This is the burden suffered by most teams attempting to become more collaborative and effective.

Action

Borrowed from anger management training courses, the best method is to spot the symptoms of early on-set defensiveness and divert the behaviour, diminish it or reverse it. If you are beginning to feel your blood boil, take a walk to the balcony, go smell the flowers and take your imagination to a place of cool, calm tranquillity to “reset” your body’s distracting chemicals.

Young attractive business people - the elite business team

  1. Coaching your colleagues through any resistance.

The majority of people will not instantly get behind a fresh idea or new change. They will choose to wait it out, criticise it, or, mount an attack.

Action

Here, a coaching approach can be effective as you focus inside your colleague’s head to access both their imagination and logic circuits to help them do the work of processing change and getting on board for themselves. Questions that help to create different and contrasting futures are good – “What if we carry on as we are? What are the risks of this?” “If we had 10 times the resources available, what should we do next?” “If you were the team leader now, what course of action would you recommend?” Etc.

  1. Actively listening to your concerned colleague.

The problem with teams is that the confident, privileged and beautiful get most of the airtime. And this dynamic is actually reinforced by everybody in the team – even the oppressed, the shy, or, the outsiders. The reflectors, quiet geniuses and shy analysts are not prone to speak up, do not feel they have permission to speak and, thus, do not take up their share of the microphone.

Action

Related to coaching but intruding less, listening is about getting the whole story out of the coachee / colleague. We can employ minimal encouragement – “That is important, please tell us more” “You were saying…” “And, what does this mean for our team?” Quieter members of the team may be more sensitive. If you overdo it they will clam up – Maintain a positive, still attention with minimal non-verbal, para-verbal and verbal prompts. This will be good for evening out the group’s share of voice, listening to all and including their ideas and concerns as well as counting the vote of everybody to form an inclusive group dynamic that will be effective in taking a diverse group all the way to a stretched goal.

  1. Building muscular resilience.

We can see resilience as the ability to bounce back from pressure, stress or becoming knocked off balance, AND, still being about to function effectively. In the politics of the team, possessing greater resilience can take people all the way to the top. And a lack of resilience will see someone being relegated to the oppressed group, or demoted to basic executive duties. They are sent to eat at the children’s table.

Action

Resilience comes in 4 flavours – Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Teams or individuals can be encouraged to participate in simple and repeated exercises to stretch and build their resilience muscles. Physical – Regular exercise, monitoring diet and alcohol consumption. Emotional – Developing the habit of experiencing positive emotions through appreciation, gratitude and laughter. Mental – Simple maths exercises. Spiritual – Practicing your faith or thinking pure thoughts.

  1. Learning to resolve difference intelligently.

It is easy to sulk, withdraw and dismiss a different opinion from your own. This actually represents a form of defensiveness and will not allow a team to become optimally collaborative.

Action

Imagine learning to reconcile difference to a level where, “I am OK & You’re OK”, becomes the default setting for the group. (We discuss a positive exception to this later).

What difference would this make to the atmosphere and energy in your team? The simplest method when two parties are on opposite sides of an argument or behaviour style (e.g. direct communicators v indirect communicators), is to reconcile the difference. We ask first, what is the benefit and contribution of each style, acknowledging that a diversity of approaches is actually NECESSARY for success. We then work on how we can accommodate those two benefits in team communications or by putting them into the project plan. E.g. direct people tell the unvarnished truth, which can be invaluable when a crisis is looming. Diplomatic indirect people keep the channels of communication open, maintain higher levels of trust and ensure the probability of long-term communication. It is easy to see that both styles are required. The task then is to design simple protocols that allow both styles to operate with respect and appreciation within the team.

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  1. Two heads are better than one when solving a problem.

If you are a hammer, your default mode is to bash things on the head. Not great when changing the batteries in your watch. Again a diversity of approaches will be more effective.

Action

Practicing problem solving can be a bonding process that deepens the respect and positive emotions of all team members. Weekly intellectual challenges involving abstract problems can be a fun team building activity that is secretly growing the team’s capacity to handle complex issue, resolve involved messes, and, operate smoothly and efficiently when a live business problem comes along.

  1. Trust underpins it all.

Without trust we have defensiveness, solo silos, and Machiavellian plots.

Action

There are 3 components to trust – Ability, Benevolence and Integrity. Each must be in play to ensure positive vulnerability and promote trust in a high functioning collaborative team. Ability – Giving recognition to the skills, competence and experience of each team member is a way that quickly establishing better communication and inclusion in any team. X becomes the go-to person on subject Y. Benevolence – By this we mean that each member declares and proves that they are not wishing a negative outcome upon their colleagues. They wish to allow a beneficial or, at least, neutral state to exist. Integrity – My word is my bond. It is essential to continually keep your promises in order to maintain confidence in the overall performance of any team. If there is a weak link, the whole side will feel let down.

  1. The Licensed Pessimist.

The risk to any team is Groupthink, where a strong personality is accepted as leader and their ego expands to a level where they propose actions that represent foolhardy risk taking. The compliant and passive nodders around them, allow and encourage adoption of this fast-track route to disaster.

Action

Challenging the precepts of 7. we deliberately create a rotating and official role that allows and encourages a critical view and gives full permission for that person to voice their concerns – The Licenced Pessimist. “What if the market does not recover? What then?” “Those numbers appear way too optimistic. How did you derive them?”

When immunity from revenge and animosity is established in the group’s ground rules, the role becomes effective and essential in stress testing all new input to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Team building. Group pf colleagues sitting in a circle and playing games and having fun.

  1. Holding everybody accountable.

Like a sulky child, the wayward executive defends their actions by saying – “Well I didn’t agree with the decision to go this route in the first place.” (Though they remained silent or did not actively disagree, when given the chance before the decision was made.) It is this lack of ownership that will lead to a suboptimal quality of work and poor outcomes.

Action

Asking everybody to say the word, “agree” can be enough to reduce the number of passive passengers on the bus and encourage everybody to process the information to form an active and personally held view. More people are then included in the process of building strategy, planning and problem solving.

  1. Regular Brainstorming.

Habits are quick to form and hard to change. It is easier to repeat what you did yesterday than take a different approach today in order to get a stronger result tomorrow. We are conservative, risk avoidant and take comfort in repetition. The zone we live in is far from comfortable – We stay in horrible jobs, relationships or houses not out of comfort, but out of habit.

Action

This activity will also count towards your resilience exercises. Brainstorming is about expanding the creative connections that you allow your imagination to make by expressing yourself freely. Exempt from criticism and editing, brainstorming moves in waves. There will be a burst of output, a lull, a second burst, and then a second lull. Keep going. It is often in the third burst that the gold is to be found.

  1. Turning passive to active.

What is written on the tombstone of most failed companies, “Well, we tried”. Not hard enough. Underperformance is supported in meetings and work by grey language, low energy sentences and half-hearted commitment. “I’ll try” is at the heart of all of them.

Action

Challenge sluggish, monotone responses to requests. Do not take “Maybe” for an answer. When you are asked, “How you are in the morning?”, upgrade your answer from a monotone, “ffiinne, I suppose” to, “SUPERB AND FANTASTIC. THANKS FOR ASKING.“

  1. Get rid of blame.

The best companies react intelligently to crisis, drama and adverse external circumstance. They do not start to defend, point the finger or avoid responsibility.

Action

The next time you have a company fire to put out and you follow the charter (point 15.) you will experience a difference in atmosphere and will have the chance to see the benefit of full-on collaboration in action. When people are scientific in their description of events this can be captured on a timeline. When they are objective in outlining the symptoms and measured in their analysis of likely causes, then you will experience the pay-off in investing to build collaborative mechanisms in your team.

  1. Moderation and facilitating collaboration.

The accidental hero boss can unintentionally ignore valuable input in order to maintain their hero brand. The neurotic and scared boss may shut down intelligent challenge, not because of the quality of the input, but due to their own insecurities. And, the time-scarce leader can move the meeting along, unconsciously, only asking group thinkers and fans for input, driven by a misguided and dangerous perceived need for peace and pace rather than quality and challenge.

Action

The job of a great moderator is to even out the debate and include a wider base of people, delivering a more diverse and representative contribution – Sampling a diversity of opinion and actively encouraging the quieter sources of wisdom to share their contribution, speak up and be heard.

  1. Good Conflict.

Many companies employ “nice” people who are expected to be “nice”. What actually happens is they become avoidant and this allows stupider ideas to become policy in action, leading to disaster.

Action

Promote the licensed critic, the robust challenger and include different opinions (and integrate these exotic gems via the process of reconciliation.) The smart move is to establish a protocol for allowed any civilised challenge within a robust but protected environment, to produce better suggestions, better processes, more considered solutions and a better customer experience. All this is done to generate improved products, services and engagement, the end result of which, will be experienced in higher income and healthier levels of profit.

  1. Capture collaboration in a charter    How many great training initiatives generated on a Friday are quietly killed off at the 8.30AM reporting meeting on a Monday? A. Most of them. It is easier to let innovation, change and challenge die on the vine and to go back to those old habits that are, actually not serving you well, but feel like an old pair of shoes – At least familiar. The problem is, they represent a slow company suicide.

Action

The formulation of a charter for collaborative team behaviours, formed collaboratively. Is that too obvious? It does not start with a stone tablet issuing from the CEO’s office. It does not come from an expensive off-site weekend jolly for Directors only. It comes from the floor. It evolves. It represents the voice and heart of everybody. And, it is signed up to by everybody – Volunteers stepping up, not coerced group thinkers just nodding along.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, trainer, writer, and public speaker, working with UK and International teams to get them beyond their blockages to create durable results in an exciting peer-to-peer atmosphere of exchange, fairness and excellence.

Contact Matthew on 075 40 65 9995 for a short conversation.

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Credibility Part 2 – The 11 Essential Components – How many do you have? by Matthew Hill

If you haven’t got cred, why get out of bed?

Whether you are a university professor battling your painful way up the academic ladder, an independent trainer providing stimulating sessions in a classroom, or, a coach drumming up new clients, there will be one thing that walks into the room before you do Your Credibility.

It is the label that attaches to you. If you are late for a dinner party or social gathering you will be introduced with that label or property – “Sarah Smith is coming, you know, the one who XXX.” Where XXX represents your reputation / key knowledge asset or the story that sticks to you most.

In the next post – Credibility Part 3, we will outline the key actions you must take in order to boost your credibility to the max and escape any negative aspect of your reputation that is holding you back.

So, what are the components of your credibility? Let us skim the surface with just 11.

*1. Skills and competence – We would not be having this conversation if you were not talented, brimming with potential and waiting to add value to various groups and communities. It is the things you know, can apply and that have an effect that are important.

red vector bubble banner credibility

Skill after skill after skill

Action – Make a note of all the skills, competences and value you have and can bring to a group. When you carry out this exercise with true diligence, the breadth of your list may surprise you.

  1. Benevolent energy – Basically are you a nice person, doing nice things for people who have a clear need? It is the opposite of malevolence – wanting something bad to a happen to a group of people – Imagine the rare instance of a racist politician (hard though that is to imagine.)

Action – Take a brief look in the mirror and ask yourself if you want something good for your target audience? We wish you well with your answer.

  1. Consistency – When you keep your promise, show up on time and deliver results, your credibility will skyrocket. It is simple, though many fail to recognize the importance of this component.

Action – Honesty test – Are you a woman / man of your word?

  1. Look and smell like a winner. As I write this piece it is London Fashion Week (It seems like it always is.) Magazines, Hollywood gossip or Friday night at the pub – The focus is on outer appearance. We are simple forest creatures and we pick our mates and leaders visually. So, you do need to look the part. Tall people do better. Blondes outscore brunettes and bald men are paid less that the lion maned – Nobody said life was fair.

Action – I did attend a serious conference in Germany a few years back that included a specialist on this topic and she concluded that we should all rush out and get a lift, tuck and liposuction! Food for thought…

  1. Eloquent Connecters – We have included two components here for expediency. If you can start with your audience – Work out who they are and communicate effectively with them, you will gain great credibility rapidly. It is less about you and more about them. On top of this if you have a memorable and effective public speaking style, then you will gain bonus credibility points and will experience more control over your own destiny.

Action – Study influencing techniques, learn advanced presentation skills and book yourself some singing lessons this week.

  1. Quality – “Good is not longer good enough. You now have to be remarkable.” (Seth Godin) Excellence is the new normal and we all have to step up in ALL areas. Charm will take you just so far (my spelling mistakes are charming to all those who are not full-on OCD.) Taking your work and output to a new level of accuracy, depth and style will make a big difference.

Action – Use editors and designers, and, practice your pitch in front of constructive critics to take your game up a level.

excellence award - red blurred stamp

At the top of your game

  1. Be a problem solver (and not the problem) The parenthesise refer to Princes and Princess who are perceived as being high maintenance. This becomes their label and overshadows talent, value and core message. There is nothing more attractive to an audience than a fixer, travelling through work and life being willing and able to untangle cables, solve the issue with the numbers, and, move on to deliver results, solve the puzzle and allow others to win.

Action – Please attempt to be user friendly. Practice root cause analysis and problem solving. Learn how the world works and give away your victories.

  1. Reframe pessimism as optimism – Are you a radiator or a drain? Do you suck the life out of a room or illuminate the space in front of you? When you replace low energy passivity with realistic enthusiasm, you will be loved. When you take the negative and reframe it positively, you will be respected. It is easy to join in with a depressed bunch and chime in with the collective moaning – misery loves company. Please do not be tempted to do this. It will become your label. Whinging Winston / Wendy. Nobody will want you at their party.

Action – Practice reframing low energy, blocked and negative group input constructively and positively, adding energy and inspiration into the mix for good measure.

  1. Become the Go To Expert GTE – Taking a couple of the points above, there is a space waiting for you as a Subject Matter Expert – SME. This is about depth and breadth –Mastery of content. When you get there you will, automatically become the GO TO EXPERT person. Is that what you crave? Can you handle the pressure? Are you prepared to step up, take on the role? And deliver?

Action – Study, learn, read, ask to become an SME in your chosen field.

The Winnr is...

  1. Opinion Leader – Subtly different from point 9. Being an OL is a specific role that combines expertise with communication. It is the embodiment of Credibility in action. It actively connects the value that you have with the attention, need and desire of your audience to engage with you, follow you, relate to your purpose and DO WHAT YOU SUGGEST. When you are at this level (the top of the mountain), you will have the power to drive audiences to take meaningful action. You will be able to direct attention to a fruitful and ethical agenda, and, you will be able to make a leveraged difference through the crowd you have gathered. It is an awesome space with a large quotient of moral responsibility. SO – PLEASE – USE YOUR PLATFORM WISELY.

Action – Decide upon a utilitarian path, do the work to get to the top, use your powers for good, and, DO NOT BELIEVE ALL THE HYPE.

Conclusion

You will have noticed the common themes of selflessness, great communication, inclusion of others, putting in the work and keeping to an ethical stance. The rest is up to you.

Question – What will precede you into the room in one year’s time? That depends on what you start doing now.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a trainer, coach, facilitator, author, public speaker and broadcaster, helping executives and leaders to uncover their soft skills talent, strengthen their competences and, whilst reaching their own potential, benefit their teams and their environment.

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Collaboration Post 2 – 4 Tools To Create Constructive Collaboration by Matthew Hill

Most people, most of the time, are not in collaboration mode – they are pursuing a totally different agenda

Tool 1 Active Listening

Before you dismiss this with a, “ ‘been there, done that, know it all already!” (that would indicate that you are overdue for a listening refresher course), let us remind ourselves that most people, most of the time are not listening actively. They are more likely to be;

*Waiting their turn to give their version of what has just been said, and, if they are super competitive, to story top and WIN! This is not active listening.

Team

Selfless Working

*Asking WIIFM? “What’s in it for me?” This person mines your data looking to extract personal gain and advantage from your content. It is a search function akin to selective attention. Test this by throwing in some test words, “Sex, beer and Netflix” and watch thier reaction. When they twitch they will know you are on to them. This is not an empathic activity.

*I know best. The Listening Observer Critic sits high up, even whilst standing, and allows their privilege to leak out with advice, constructive (or undermining) criticism to let you know that they are just a little bit better than you. These people lack empathy and their contribution may leave a bitter residue.

And now the real thing – Active Listening

The missing elements include;

*First attempting a broad understanding of what is being said and then taking a further empathic step – to understand the speaker as the SPEAKER intends to be understood. This is the Platinum level of listening.

*Psychological proof. This stage is not attained by the listener repeating what they have heard. A smart phone can do that. They are tasked with processing the information from their own perspective, attempting empathy and seeing the matter from the speaker’s Point of View – POV and, then, expressing what they think they have heard. Here we may add, checking for clarity and the confirming the intention component as well. This will sound like, “So, IF I have understood you correctly, I heard XXX. Is that the message you wished me to receive?”

*Letting them finish. The talking stick remains with the speaker for as long as they wish so they finally can feel they have said their piece.

Shocked girl eavesdropping.

Listening?

Miracle

The first time you try these ideas out with a passionate person, the results may overwhelm both them and you. This may be the first occasion when they have actually felt listened too with respect, depth and acknowledgement.

Good luck

Tool 2. Point of View – POV

This is a POV and reconciliation exercise that can be practiced as a training exercise and then used in real conversations. The training version is simple. Split the group into 3s. The first person takes the role of Finance Director, the second, New Young Executive and the third, the Project Delivery Leader. The context is set – The 3 of you are discussing the progress of a critical 90-day work project for your Golden Goose customer. As it stands, you are not going to hit either the quality mark or the tight deadline. Q. What do you do? The suggestion that you are now going to form an opinion on is; PAID OVERTIME. Are you for it or against it in this instance?

+ The first task is for the 3 to get into character and give a one-line opinion, yes or no, with, maybe, one line of explanation.

The answers are normally the expected ones – The Finance Director says, “The new money is not in the budget – No,” Etc.

+ The second task is to work out a strategy for how to reconcile the 3 points of view to reach the required quality standard, and, put in enough work hours to finish the job and end before the deadline.

There normally follows some creative thinking, challenge to opposing positions and a reconciliation that ends come up with a strategy that is, 1) paid for, 2) creates more hours of labour to complete the project, and, 3) can be agreed upon by the 3 people in the discussion.

This exercises mirrors what is required of a Collaborative Working Group – the robust exchange of truths, creating options, reconciling differences and mobilising around a common outcome to stay focused on the task, and, not get distracted by difference.

Once the training version has been completed it is time to have a go in the BWW – The Big Wide World.

Tool 3. Letting Go of Defensiveness

If there were just one freeing exercise that was mandatory for all boards, groups and committees, this would be it. Humans are emotional, primal and full of fear. It is mostly misdirected fear around the participant’s core needs not being met that causes so much grief and delay.

Group Of Young Business People

Stop crossing your arms!

When a board member’s core needs are threatened, defensiveness can easily follow. The 3 needs are;

*Significance – Privilege, status, power, importance or position – When this is threatened or exposed, defensiveness will never be far behind.

*Competence – Another key component of a board member’s identity tool kit is their ability and skill level. When this is challenged, called into questioned or undermined in real time, defensive will surely follow.

*Likable – To generalise – We all have a deep deep desire to be admired, liked and approved of. It is a critical part of most of us and the one need that is examined the most – “Do they like me?” “Will they like me?” “Am I being likable now?” Etc.

How does defensiveness manifest? We can make progress when we spot the symptoms of defensiveness, spot them early and interrupt the negative behaviour that will inevitably follow.

Examples include; plunging into sulky silence, The “poor me” victim script, All or nothing, polarised thinking, wanting and needing to be right, spreading the blame or shame, experiencing a sudden drop in IQ, experiencing energy ripping through the body, doom mongering / catastrophizing, needing the last word, obsessive thinking, Needing to pour out information or saying, “I don’t really get defensive.”

Action – With self-awareness, each board / committee member can learn to notice their own pattern of moving into defensiveness. The next move it to interrupt that normal course of events, reset, and, move in a different direction.

If you start to witter when you feel attacked – Stop, centre yourself and remain silent. If you suffer a drop in IQ, stop and focus on an intelligence enhancing strategy such as collecting symptoms from the recent conversations and attempting to derive a root cause that can be dealt with. If you feel like pointing the finger, interrupt yourself and focus on environmental causes not ones originating for any individual in the room. And so on.

Tool 4 The Licenced Pessimist

If you are familiar with Edward De Bono’s Six Hat Thinking Model, you will know that the Black Hat is tasked with thinking of the biggest risks and the worst outcomes. This function is essential if a group is to combat GROUPTHINK. Groupthink happens when overly homogenous groups, often lead by a strong or charismatic leader, get behind an idea and really go for it. When it is a particularly extreme point of view, risk management goes out the window and, suddenly, something bizarre ends up being carried out by an enthusiastic lynch mob. Remember the HSBC credit officer who saw the 2007 subprime loan property disaster unfolding in the US and spoke up. He was fired by the group-thinking board and disaster followed shortly after.

Asking people to rotate and take a turn to act as the devil’s advocate is a great way to stress test all ideas, and challenge all assumptions before bad outcomes occur.

Hint – It is best to keep rotating this role through the group or an unconscious bias will grow and that single Black Hat will begin to be seen as not playing a useful role but OWNING their tasked negative perspective permanently.

Conclusion

We hope you have benefited from these 4 tools and ideas and will implement them with your committees, boards and teams.

Please like and share if you are going to take action or think others could benefit from this input. Thank you.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a trainer, facilitator, coach and public speaker helping executives and leaders uncover their soft skill talents, develop their communication competences and, whilst reaching their own personal potential, help others to enjoy a better work life and great business outcomes. Contact him by telephone;  07540659995

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Book Review DIY Mediation – The Conflict Resolution Toolkit Book by Marc Reid – Review by Matthew Hill

Kill the monster whilst it is small

Marc Reid has produced something of substantial value to the wider business (and intercultural) community.

Context

The old world of HR seemed to recoil from conflict and wished to avoid all drama, only to be called back to the matter when things had escalated to a level requiring on the record, expensive and time consuming action – mainly tribunals and litigation.

Mediation and pre mediation intervention aims to kill the monster whilst it is small, keep the proceedings off the record, and, allow marginal characters to gain a voice and have their say when they are feeling aggressed, disrespected or bullied.

Easy to read and easy to apply

The book has a gentle gradient, starting with what is conflict, the stages of escalation, observed behaviours and their consequences, and, peaking with the AGREE model – a process that can be used to grab hold of the issues in an intelligent way, and, move the parties towards resolution quickly, and with minimal cost, time and residue left at the end.

Models

Marc has made a sometimes complex subject easy to follow and easy to apply. He breaks down larger topics with handy acronyms and provides completely pragmatic advise on those hard to reach areas such as remaining free of judgment and partiality. My two favourites were the 3FsFacts, Feeling and Future (when exploring the circumstances of a conflict) and the HEAR method for assertive communication – Happening – establishing events on a timeline, Effect – describing impact, Acknowledge – outlining the scenario from your point of view, and, Request – stating what you, as a mediator, would like to happen next.

Written in plain English and aimed at the average corporate HR professional, this tome will be of use to anyone in business or in a broader organisation who wishes to grasp the nettle of conflict, grow their own competence and awareness in holding challenging conversations, and, who is passionate about ethical early interventions to prevent exhausting escalations in the workplace.

No book is perfect and Marc has walked into the Mehrabian trap – taking this model as an example of how little language conveys in communication. (Mehrabian himself went to great lengths to correct this misapprehension.)

Conclusion

The book provides an accessible and vital tool for HR professionals and a wider audience who wish to move from avoidance to a more collaborative and inclusive approach to handling conflict, and, who wish to pick up and use a no nonsense approach to get the job of conflict reversal in hand in their organisation.

About the reviewer – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, trainer, speaker, author and coach working to build collaboration in international teams for the SME and Corporate sector.

Purchase

To buy the book go to Amazon UK; https://www.amazon.co.uk/DIY-Mediation-Conflict-Resolution-Toolkit/dp/1785893114/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1540458765&sr=8-1&keywords=diy+mediation+reid

Collaboration Part 1 – What stands in the way? Matthew Hill

                                    Are we making assumptions and mistakes?

Our many many assumptions only delay the building of effective collaborative structures and getting to positive team collaboration.

The assumptions about collaboration, and, how we should all be able to instantly achieve this nirvana like state, give insights into the difficulties we face, and, they often betray our cultural origins too.

In this, the first of 3 short posts, we will explore the barriers to collaboration in order to confront them, raise self-awareness and, finally, be able to put together a blueprint for effective collaboration across place, time and difference.

Teamwork and cooperation concept

What stops us from working collaboratively?

                                                10 Assumptions and Mistakes

  1. Its all about the goal – Action based organisations or individuals are all about starting fast and ending with the achievement of a goal – growth, profit or the production of a new object etc. Whilst this approach has been enormously effective (with only 5% of the World’s population, the US accounts for 23% of the World’s economy), the magic that creates collaboration happened between the start and finishing lines. We can easily find ourselves looking in the wrong place and focusing on the wrong things.
  2. Nail down the strategy – We are taking a large step closer when we talk about strategy and the HOW? How will we get there? Here, however, the focus, all too often, again, misses out the human, the relational and the emotional. The assumptions made are like an engineer in a factory – building a sausage machine, fill it with sausage meat and casings, and turn it on. We look at process and give emphasis to the technical, whilst again, overlooking the human.
  3. Measurement improves business – You get more of what you measure? Why? Because that is where you put your energy and attention. It is easy to manage activity, and compare input with output – Notice we are back with the sausage machine analogy. This risks drifting into Stephen Covey territory where we are super-EFFICIENT without being that EFFECTIVE. There is a critical difference we must become aware of. You can be driving in a super-efficient way – in the WRONG direction!
  4. Man management will get us there – So we have reached point 4. Are we finally, going to to deal with the emotional human and how we can get them to collaborate? Not quite yet! Historically, humans have been treated as muscle machines; expendable commodities whose freewill must be minimised and whose bodies must be made fast, and, whose minds must be made compliant. Take a moment and consider how obedient are you expected to be in order to continue to receive your pay? It is a little scary. There is an unwritten subtext where you must sublimate much of yourself in order for your face and behaviour to fit in.

I remember my Welsh English teacher, Taff Davies, beginning the year with exactly this metaphor. “What is the key characteristic of an efficient machine?” He asked. Silent running was the answer, he wished to extract from the class.

  1. Privilege – Do you notice who gets promoted? Class based advantage helps promote pale males ahead of others. This happens because of the two confidences – Theirs and ours.

Their confidence is drummed in – Noblesse oblige, duty, leadership, expectation (BTW – This is not a walk in the park – There is a large promise that must be delivered upon by our silver spooned chewing heroes.)

Our confidence comes in the form of preferring to deal with a middle class white male when it comes to anything important. We are ALL compliant in this skewed system.

Society has programmed us to accept a specific and prescribed minority as the dominant leaders in our community. This is historical, political and economic. We have spent much less time, money and energy working to create the conditions necessary for wider, productive and sustainable collaboration.

  1. Me me me – Either from the elite in point 5. or coming from the wide lands around them, the personal agenda of the individual can so easily compete for attention and resources as to undermine the chances of everybody playing nicely, collaborating for something worth achieving, or, the key audience being served at all. Just look at the ego of that person in your own group. You know who I mean.Collaboration - letters written in beautiful boxes on white background
  2. Defensive feelings – It is too easy to get passed people as machines model only to take everything personally. This leads to drama and personal battles that have little or nothing to do with the mission, the team or the service that is to be delivered. – Defensiveness is at the heart of most escalations, team malfunctions and litigation. It is a primal human reaction and will not lead to 1000 create collaborative moments.
  3. The oppressed marginals are included – The opposite of 5., those stuck in the margins have learnt behaviours necessary for them to exist, persist and survive. Their voice is quiet and avoids critical challenge, licenced pessimism or contributing their own innovative ideas. No risk – no punishment. That is the motto of the un-empowered came up with to keep on living.
  4. I don’t do bias – The problem with us humans, is that we think we are objective, intelligent and sophisticated creatures – That we are above the fray. We subconsciously dismiss the views of outsiders, outliers and those not in our gang. And we only vote for our own and take comfort in the tranquil voice of the social leaders as with point 5. We all have plenty of unconscious bias that has been programmed in via parental chat, education, entertainment and, particularly, with every political speech we have heard.
  1. Pleasing people pleases people – We end in irony. Groups comply rather than offer rational challenge for a reason. It is because they wish to enjoy harmony and for each member to be liked.

The assumption is that nice people, doing nice things for the needy is the way to go. It is not.

People pleasers don’t please people. We get nowhere and the wheels eventually fall off the bus. Group thinkers take wild decisions, create unsustainable levels of risk and cannot self-correct.

When we replace groupthink with licenced criticism, we start to create the conditions for GOOD conflict, robust exchange and the possibility of progress. This is challenging in most subcultures, where confrontation is actively avoided (How many times do the Brits say, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry every day?)

Being nice is not always a necessary condition for collaboration.

Conclusion – A raft of assumptions and mistakes stand in the way of forging effective teams, committees and communities that can act with purpose, from a strong based of shared values to achieve worthy and sustainable outcomes.

Next time we look at some exercises that can get us from the 10 assumptions and mistakes mentioned above and move towards behaviours supporting full-on collaborative teams working in a robust, courageous and effective way to fulfil their mandate.

About the author – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, presentation coach and leadership trainer, working with commercial and voluntary organisations to help them operate as robust executive teams, fulfilling individual promise and delivering overall results that are extraordinary.

Lead Magnet

Come work with me…

*** SIETAR Congress in Malaga *** – Matthew Hill and Susanna Schuler will be running a workshop on the second day of the 1st SIETAR Spain Congress in Malaga. Saturday, 29th September 2018. After lunch. Do join us if you can…

Matthew Hill – 07540 65 9995

Sexual Harassment Part 3. What IS being done? The Final Part in the Series by Intercultural Mediator – Susanne Schuler

What IS being done?

In Part 1 we looked at the cultural origins of harassment. In Part 2 we expanded on what actually happens. Now, in this concluding piece, we highlight what actions are needed to diminish the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Let’s train everybody to be aware…

As a broad corporate response to the emerging crisis (Pandora’s box is now open), a wave of group Sexual Harassment Awareness Training Courses are being spashed over executives. And it is all coming in a rush. Centred on behavioural awareness and compliance (no, the other compliance) they have a very specific tone. Often with stern warnings and containing horrible scenarios, the message is one of shame and blame directed at the vile nature of some male behaviour.

Businessman portrait

But, this rapidly deployed and reactive intervention could prove to be counter-productive.

According to some research, there is a downside to this style of teaching approach. Short, high-pressure, punitive harassment awareness courses, that focus on blame and promise punishment, may actually be delaying the desired change in male behaviour in the workplace. A side effect of the powerful content contained in these courses is construed as a general accusation making all men automatically wrong and covering all male executives with a blanket of condemnation. This, in turn, can contribute negatively to the goal, hindering some men to acknowledge the potential for danger. The confrontational nature of the material shifts them from free dialogue into a defensive and avoidant position, where some begin to justify their actions or chose instead to hide in deep denial.

When a corporate sheep-dip course is rolled out rapidly as a reactive tactic by male management, probably in response to a sexual harassment incident within the company, possibly involving one of their own, an instant cure is not always forthcoming.

Unwanted side effects include seeing men taking refuge in polarity, the strengthening of male in-groups for mutual protection and a general disengagement from the subject, and, thus making resolution less likely to occur. When this approach is taken, especially in competitive and sales driven organisations, where the male hero stereotype has been promoted for years as the company ideal, the company finds that their promoted culture of, “hunt like a predator” cannot be switched off so easily or so quickly.

Maybe you can’t sheep dip a wolf.

So, compliance courses, rushed out to all employees in order to kill off the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace are not proving a panacea.

Maybe we need to go deeper in our study of the abuse of power by men and look to see how women get caught up in this dynamic.

For women, the current rebalancing of #metoo and #timesup is creating a safe space, beyond shame and silence, for those at the receiving end of abuse, sexual harassment and discrimination. This movement has peer support, allowing the sharing of stories with less judgement and is, at last, letting light shine in upon decades of secrecy, silence and fearful darkness.

It has taken action by women for women bypassing the boardroom, to get proportionate airtime, begin the debate and change the ground rules for both men and women in the workplace.

What now?

Will the repeated and amplified myth of man as a dominant, experienced, decisive, macho, courageous and an all-conquering hero, morph into something safer, more savoury and more appropriate for today’s business world?

Or, will the bastions of male power lash out, take revenge and reclaim their territory?

If the #metoo door is shut again, we can expect a panoply of abuse, a continuance of harassment in the absence of consequences for men and justice for women wronged at work, and, a strengthening of the ultra-male script – look out with dread for the return of the ravishing Viking.

Or, a better Hollywood script… Imagine the scene – On a wild and windy beach… there gather a critical mass of modern office workers, reborn and newly conscious – a promising new generation of aware workers committed to the creation of a healthier work dynamic that shows up in meritocratic reward whilst allowing for transparent flirting, healthy romance and witty in-group humour, and, killing off the exchange of job advantage for sexual favours.

And, when the #metoo wave peaks, then it will be time to advocate for a code of conduct that covers team buddy banter, in-house flirting, work romance and prescribes a moratorium on sexual trading, physical threat and the abuse of power in the work place.

Questions – Will we see a revoking of the free wheeling sex pest’s power pass in the workplace and the rise of self-policing and self-editing male work colleagues who are fluent in the modern work languages of respect, restraint and reasonable behaviour in the workplace?

Or, will the wave pass and the doors be locked again for another 20 years?

Only time will tell.

The new paradigm could be liberating for everybody.

About the Author – Susanne Schuler is an Intercultural Mediator at CEDR, The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London.

Catch up on the Series so far…

Part 2 What Do We See?

https://culture99.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/sexual-harassment-what-do-we-see/

 

Part 1 Where did it come from?

https://culture99.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/sexual-harassment-where-did-that-come-from-an-opinion-piece-by-susanne-schuler-part-1/

 

Sexual Harassment Part 2 by Intercultural Mediator Susanne Schuler– What do we see?

At what level does sexual harassment begin, and – How far does it go?

A second opinion piece by Intercultural Mediator, Susanne Schuler

(Reminder: Part 1 was about Where did it come from? – Hierarchical power and vulnerability plus the Gender neutrality-equality v Beauty primium dilemma and the impact of bias.)

There are several versions of the sexual harassment escalation scale. This is perhaps an indictment of the enormity of the abuse that is occurring. Let us look at an aggregated ladder of possible encounters;

Homme charmeur

*Looking – intensely or leering

*Language – sexualized conversations in the workplace, one-to-one or male group vulgarity around or toward lone females

*Suggestion – crossing the flirting line with explicit requests, described activities or observations and judgments

*Physical moves – contact & proximity, escalating to physical intimidation and cornering

*Trade / exchange – in-work offers of favourable treatment in return for forms of sexual compliance or issuing a threat of negative consequences if compliance is not forthcoming

*Forced choice – aggravated demands for sexual engagement

*Forced sexual moves – forced physical violation

*Violence – the use of extreme non-consensual physical force upon women

It is a depressing list.

Q. Why can’t we all just get on with our work in the office?

A. The same social and educational forces that have shaped women’s roles and behaviours, make us vulnerable to exploitation. These forces have also conditioned a part of the male working population to believe that successfully taking advantage of a female work colleague is, somehow, a badge of honour, a rite of passage or, simply, a perk of the job.

E.g. The complex reality on the ground – an example – A job panel may unconsciously or consciously discriminate against a working mother’s application when hiring for the role of a travelling sales person. The panel members may project their own feelings and prejudice onto the selection process accordingly.

Their fixed image of a good mother include that she should not being sexually available, staying at home with her children and fear that she may be exposed to the negative encounters that accompany holding down a job travelling around the UK.

What has just happened?

Arising from a collective and projected male knowledge of the threat of harassment, they pre-emptively exclude her from consideration, knowing of the harassment that can come with a woman eating alone in restaurants, staying at service station hotels and meeting customers in their offices as well as socialising with them as part of relationship building.

They are projecting dangers arising from their own fear, shared knowledge and experience. With the best of intentions (the most dangerous phrase in the English language), they are reluctant to expose a female worker, wishing to undertake a travelling role, to the abuse and harassment that they know / fear she will inevitably encounter.

Debrief

We can see in this real scenario, the two sides of the gender dilemma coming into play – First gender neutrality, the female candidate may be the best applicant for the role, and, if put through the gender blind process we saw with the US orchestra, she would indeed get the job based on merit. In this version, if she has applied for the role, her life choices would not be questioned and her treatment would be even-handed regarding gender.

Secondly, the female attributes as currency perspective becomes awkward, twice. Firstly, does her beauty play a part in driving up her commercial selling potential, making her a more successful closer and so a strong candidate for this targets-based role?

And,

Sticking with this path, will her attributes expose her to better working conditions – special treatment, lower barriers etc. or, worse ones in the professional space? And, in the public arena? The panel anticipate pestering in public places, customer assumptions about her values and mores etc., leading to an increased chance of sexual harassment occurring in the execution of her job and the pursuit of her career? The feminine attribute of motherhood is considered in a vacuum, and, the fact that her partner may be an excellent stay-at-home carer is not factored in. The net total of all these concerns count against her as the panel consider her application.

As we can see – life is complicated. We have bias, diversity and inclusion guidelines, pragmatism and a skewed view, both positive and negative, as we stack up all the elements of bias coming into play.

E.g. The abuse of power – Let us consider a second example. The Harvey Weinstein story combines the feminine attributes as currency model with an extreme power dynamic to produce perfect storm conditions, all leading to a repeated pattern of abuse. The scenarios, outlined by vast swathes of women, have a number of common elements. We hear the repeated theme of motivated young women being lured into the wrong place, with the wrong man at the wrong time, at the beginning of their careers. They had little or nothing by way of clout, a supportive network around them or equity to fall back on. Now, add in wild promises designed to resonate with the driven ambitions of these young actors – just one last hurdle to jump lies between the impoverished ingénue and an irresistible film role and the opportunity for fame, fortune and success. Thus, the scene is set for a two-stage trading decision to be made. The first comes with the casting-couch – trading sexual compliance for career advantage, inclusion and a chance to make substantial progress as an actor. And, depending on the outcome of the first trade, a second horrific escalated choice, sexual compliance for survival and the chance to leave that hotel room… at all.

This complex topic is trending at the moment. What will come out of this heightened level of awareness and attention both for men, for whom it was a deeply buried dirty secret, and, for women who have the chance to share their stories, stake their claim and design a better workplace for everybody?

End of Part 2.

Next Time – Part 3 – What is being done? And, What can be done?

Part 1: Where did it come from?

Part 3: What is being done? and What can be done?

About the author, Susanne Schuler is an Intercultural Mediator working at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London. She has written the book Intercultural Mediation  At Work, published by Bookboon. To buy the book click on the link;

https://bookboon.com/en/intercultural-mediation-at-work-ebook