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.
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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
10 Assumptions and Mistakes
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
*** 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
To read the rest of Ardi Bouwers’ post and find her blog too, just click on the link; http://www.chinacircle.nl/help-everyone-a-china-expert/
About the Author – Ardi Bouwers is a China and communication expert. She plays with perspectives, jumping from China to the Netherlands and back, to help her clients deal with those difficult direct Dutch or the cautious circling Chinese, in order to build greater mutual trust and understanding.”
She can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding your space, being resourceful and keeping optimism in this expanding digital age.
This intense and packed book attempts to bring together a cross-disciplinary view linking the individual to the wider context of the modern digital world, as we face new challenges and opportunities in our working life, in a world in flux, impacted by technology and at the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution.
Adina Tarry shares with us her experiential findings from more than 2500 hours of coaching with over 600 individuals. She explores key themes such as: personality, invisible drivers and values, age, personal branding and working internationally. Tarry employs research and scientific models to support her experiential findings. Probably the most useful part of the book is her digest of a large body of research on the wide impact of artificial intelligence and robotics, not only on work but also on education, governance, regulation, society and capitalism itself. All this is pitched at the individual, outlining their options in this wider system.
No book is perfect and this one could be seen as overly ambitious, attempting to tackle a vast array of subjects in a limited space.
How does it end?
The last chapter, far from being pessimistic, presents a constructive view of the future, shouts out a call to action and contains an optimistic message for the building of a resilient and flexible self, able to work through the changes and volatility that is coming.
Adina seems to have softened some theory and case studies to make the book readable, digestible and applicable. The narrative is in plain language making it accessible to both interculturalists and a wider audience – students to professionals, coaches, parents and HR practitioners and psychologists – anyone who takes an active interest in the way their working life is going to change in the future.
Overall, Adina Tarry’s book provokes thought and feeling in equal measure and is a practical tome that will certainly help those helping others or whom, personally, are moving through transition or doubt in their careers.
Getting the book
About the Author.
Adina Tarry is a Romanian Coach and Interculturalist living and working in London.
10 reasons why classrooms beat screens – An opinion piece by Matthew Hill
At the moment I am battling with a large client to “save” classroom face-to-face training against the passionate arguments from a few of their senior directors who wish to take ALL content on-line and deliver educational content via virtual E learning packages.
Their logic for this centres on time, money and travel.
Time Management Course
The way they state it, in the long run, if the company builds, say, 100 units of virtual training, the job is done – There will be relatively little further expense. In their utopian vision of the future for education, the company will not have to move people around, book flights and hotels, repeat live training or pay for group suppers and trips to the local town amusements etc. From a purely financial perspective this is both understandable and correct.
But, What is missing here, and what is going to be lost?
Save the Classroom – 10 Things to Consider…
The classroom affords a much more realistic representation of a corporate meeting, a heated discussion or a simple live pair dialogue. It is this realism that will adds educational value later when the participants are locked in conflict and combat for real.
Studies in learning impact mostly conclude that the closer a learning simulation is to reality, the greater the transfer is, making the new competence ready for use in an actual live and important work scenario.
So, the 3D simulation of realistic soft skills, leadership and change exercises found in classroom encounters is going to almost always be more fresh, alive and more nuance that its virtual equivalent.
You don’t learn to ride a bicycle by reading a book.
A half decent facilitator will bring the room to life, the group to life and the material to life. They will add energy, manage the group dynamic, warm up the participants and use humour, drama and stories to illustrate many key points and, at just the right moment. This makes a difference in driving home the learning and makes any training session, special and memorable. Let us contrast this with many conversations I have had with corporate executives bored and frustrated with long, repetitive and “averaged out” on-line training materials. Just the delivery channel alone represents an unwelcome addition time tying the stressed executive to their laptop.
We are suffering from a plague of screen fatigue.
Change management course
A live training does not have to average out the talent in the room and cater for the median delegate. There will be the strugglers, the walkers and the sprinters too. They have different needs, separate learning style preferences and each has an ideal individual tempo. In a live encounter these subtleties can be serviced in many ways to help everybody to get to progress, satisfaction and a fuller understanding of the learning on offer.
One size does not fit all.
A great trainer will sense the corporate commercial context they are walking into and feel the energy in the room. Have some awful financial figures just been released? A round of redundancies announced? Has a product or service just failed? Or, is there a tension due to an on-going external threat such as Brexit or US trade protectionism?
The trainer is there on the ground and can shape the day and absorb concerns whilst leading the group to the commercial and educational objective via adapted strategies and behaviours that respect the bigger picture and the current perceived reality.
And, they can respond to the energy levels in the room by scheduling a break or putting in an extra exercise to manage the concentration or mood of the group live, as opposed to guessing the concentration span of the average participant months in advance and having to ignore any real time distractions.
Live energy management adds to great transfer outcomes.
Spending live time with people gives more possibilities – Role play, team building initiatives, group discussion, feedback – giving and receiving, physical breakout groups and the live reconciliation of differing opinions, learning styles and behavioural preferences as experienced when any two or more people get down to business.
Dynamic simulation exercises leads to excitement leads to retention.
The effectiveness of the classroom is realised when dealing with magic learning moments that are thrown up by a group interacting around critical topics in the intimate and personal space of the classroom.
With on-line delivery, exceptional cases beyond the obvious ones cannot be catered for, as the learning piece must, by definition target a lowest common denominator of material and methods.
When an average person gets stuck, they represent more than themselves. Live, the teaching can be paused as the facilitator illuminates the troubling topic from a new perspective to ensure understanding. It can be in these simple moments that the “aha” breakthrough occurs for many. Or, when the genius delegate spots something that even the experienced facilitator has not come across before. These incidents can be special and make the live event stand out in the memory of the participants and lead to the company attaining a level of awareness or breakthrough.
Those break-time chats or questions can save lives and careers, starting when a quieter member seeks out help. They can do this because the facilitator has established a safe space with sufficient levels of trust and confidentiality for the confession or enquiry to occur. Early intervention can make a significant difference to outcome.
Cater for the exceptional, the quiet and the cautious to help the whole corporation.
The opportunity in the classroom to meet new people, experience the philosophy of other departments and gain knowledge of alternative points of view from a variety of counterparts can be a major contributor in gluing together a disparate multi-site organisation of virtual workers so creating an esprit de corp that will produce a lasting benefit experienced in elevated levels of cooperation and exchange during a project or around the creation of a new product in the future.
Inspiration can be all around us.
When pre-reading is assigned, this can be tested for comprehension in the room. During the session, simple memory techniques can be applied to help the learning stick. When a trainer asks what have you learnt to each participant, something powerful and effective occurs. There is a richer processing of the materials, a personal commitment to owning content and a chance to challenge any part of the material just covered.
Profound and intense exercises are the way to max the stickiness of material, and, a post training conf. call can further aid retention with 3 questions; What do you remember from the day? What have you applied and it is working? And, what have you attempted to apply and it is not working?
Deeper interaction leads to greater retention and better application.
- Collective Mistake
The best argument for the live classroom comes in the training moment when a collective company-wide misapprehension is revealed. If everybody at Company X believes something to be true and the trainer can show that an alternative explanation or method is valid, there can be a step evolution in outcome. The magic of modern time management or leaving the comfort zone during change are two excellent examples of this, where the majority view does not always represent the “truth” of the matter.
Live training can challenge group-think in a unique and powerful way.
The number one reason for the shift to on-line learning platforms is cost. But, classrooms do not have to be so expensive and a more dynamic version, blended in with any pure on-line can really make a difference.
When training days are attached to regular conferences or regional meetings, the travel costs have already been apportioned. When the benefit of constructive networking, trust building in reducing escalations or the forming of profitable collaborative partnerships is added back in, the cost per head becomes more than attractive again.
And, in the spirit of constructive compromise, when a summary film is made, pre-reading materials are edited to boost charisma and energy, and, follow up training is delivered by live webinar, the live and virtual costs can be averaged out. When we otimize the cost of classroom and virtual live exchanges and create better non-live materials, we help the finance department to approve investment in training. This then helps generate exceptional knowledge retention to please the L&D department and stimulates and helps create competent and connected workers who now enjoy training sessions put on by the company.
A networked, trusting and collaborative team will beat a siloed one, every time.
Please like and share if you agree with the arguments we have put forward, if you enjoy classroom training, or if, you feel that the classroom is a relevant space for learning, development and business improvement. Thanks.
Have I missed anything?
Can you add to the business case?
Please add any constructive comments that will add value to this piece. Thanks.
About the Author – Matthew Hill is a soft skills trainer working in Europe delivering dynamic group training live in the classroom.
To see and hear the whole webinar in recorded form simply click on the link and follow the instructions.
And for the Code of Ethics itself.
May the most culturally appropriate team win…
As 32 teams line up to compete in the Russia 2018 World Cup, we ask how big a role will culture play in determining the winner? In this light-hearted piece we discuss the implications of country difference on the performance of national football teams.
Warning; Do not put your hard earned savings betting on the findings of this article!
Are They Hungry Enough?
Have you ever wondered what the overarching cultural criteria for winning in football is? The obvious starter is hunger to win. Interestingly, competitiveness has been studied and country comparisons have been made. On a global scale the USA is the undisputed champion. With less than 5% of the world’s population they account for almost 24% of the worlds economy. That requires a high degree of competitiveness. BUT they are rubbish at soccer. Go figure.
Related to competitive behaviour and the drive to win rather than lose, aggression is a factor and, one of the fathers of culture, Geert Hofstede, measured masculinity of culture which can be seen to overlap with being macho (at a stretch.) So. Which is the most macho country? There is no obvious winner but the contenders would have to include Russia, Ukraine and Brazil (forget the man bags – look at the street life.)
If you believe that Russia 2018 has already been won on the training ground and the whiteboards of the classroom and in the feeder schools and the coaching academies you may be right. Cultures can be measured for planning, striving for perfection and a focus on task. When we reviewed the Brazilian World Cup of 2014 Germany surprised the whole of South America with their extraordinary long-term strategy of grooming young German footballers from the moment of conception through birth, youth and up till the final whistle.
This extraordinary dedication to process, preparation and pathway paid off as never before. So the planning champions of the World – Germany must be taken seriously. If organised cultures are in with a shout we must add Japan, Sweden and Iceland to the mix as well. (Who ever thought Iceland would be here?)
Conversely, is it the flamboyant individual flair of the boys upfront that wins matches? Culture studies provide a measure of risk taking, risk acceptance and active risk avoidance into account when comparing countries. Ironically, on this scale, Germany would be placed as highly risk avoidance. They actively plan to anticipate and eliminate uncertainty and prepare for all eventualities in extraordinary detail. If we look at the magical football of South America, we see the opposite where flare, superhuman talent and the theatrical make for a good game. The nearest contenders in the would have to be Spain, Portugal and France. It is interesting to note that there is a correlation between risk-taking and a fatalistic view of the world. In the examples we’ve mentioned here the Catholic faith provides the external input. “If God wishes it to be so, we will win the cup”. Never underestimate the motivating power of a vast external force. Religion has shaped the behavior, the economies and the politics of most of the world. Why should it not also play a part in football?
Zinedine Zidane’s head butting of Italy’s Marco Materazzi in extra time at the 2006 World Cup Final (in Zidane’s final professional game) is the classical example of rule breaking. It was an arbitrary, but an automatic reflex to an insult received about his mother. Sometimes principles and deep personal values trump the playing of the game and sticking within the rules.
It is fairly obvious that in a difficult close fought match you need to keep 11 players on the pitch. A red card will rob you of a full team and multiple yellow cards will reduce the talent available later on in the competition. Whilst rule breaking can provide individual flair, the cumulative effect is negative in any one competition, especially involving a knockout element. So, will we see the rule breaking countries making progress? England, Portugal and Russia. If one maintains a detached analytical view, this random and arbitrary adherence to the rules is a risk too far and sabotages a country’s chances.
Political, social and football power comes in two structural forms – vertical and horizontal. With the vertical structure, the boss is the boss and the player is the player. The power is kept by the captain, the coach, or the country manager. What they say goes. The players benefit from this set up because they gain certainty, direction and a clarity of the task in front of them. If the tactics and plan are good enough, horizontal power can be motivating and effective in execution on the pitch. The hierarchical countries are Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Japan, S. Korea and France.
The alternative structure is functional power, equality and democracy. Famously in, Swedish society, decisions are made collaboratively and in an inclusive fashion. Everybody is listened to, the quieter members are respected, and the collective direction is decided and followed. Off the pitch this can be powerful. On the pitch this can be disastrous. The democratic decision makers in Russia 2018 are Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Iceland.
A third choice in this section is reserved to one special country – Belgium. The Belgian compromise is a unique cultural phenomenon where, when offered the choice between black-and-white, the Belgian chooses grey. Not famous for performing well in any football competitions at the national level, we all have a soft spot for this plucky little country.
What do you think is required on and off the pitch? Part of the spectator entertainment package in any big competition, is looking at the communication style of the national coach. Are they calm, controlled and well-dressed? Do they communicate with simple loud commands? Or do they gesticulate like a conductor leading the orchestra playing the rousing parts of the William Tell overture?
If a coach gives direct and obvious input, then the other team can hear it too. There is an argument for indirect verbal language and disguised non-verbal communication being of more use when deployed amongst a perceptive team. Who of our 32 bands of brothers has this combination of indirect communication and subtle context interpretation? The results may surprise you. If this is a contributing factor to winning silverware (goldware) we could be in for a good competition. The countries that stand out are England, Japan and Serbia.
If you don’t believe subtlety wins matches, then you’re likely to put your money on the low context obvious verbal communicator teams. They include France, Germany, Spain and Australia.
Team or individual?
The final contribution from the science of cultural measurement gives us mixed results. Do we think a collective and group spirit promotes a healthy distribution of motivation, a glorious division of responsibility and ownership, and an advanced level of cooperation, and will their coordinated efforts be good enough to win matches?
Don’t try this at home…
Or, do we remember individual flair and the exceptional solo physical effort of a standalone hero as providing the defining moments of many competitions? Certainly the latter is what endures. Famous interculturalist, George Simons would say, remember that the man of the moment, stands on the shoulders of others. The contrast in this last criterion could not be more stark. England’s history has been one of the extraordinary individual dynamism often let down by the rest of the team trotting along beside them. Germany has benefited from the even and consistent support of the team reducing the pressure on individual star to perform alone. And historically… They have done better.
An alternative ending.
Decades of study in the field of culture throw up strange and unexplained phenomena. We have not factored in the support of the crowd. This must be a major factor for the great successes of South American teams and Spanish football. And, let’s add another important question – What are the people drinking? There are three main alcohol groups in Russia 2018
The beer drinkers – in it for the long haul, slow and steady, emotionally balanced with an even workplace. (England, Germany, Denmark and Belgium.)
The wine drinkers – emotional, artistic and graceful they are poets, philosophers and performers. It is all about drama and can end in triumph or tragedy – nothing in between. (France, Switzerland, Serbia, Croatia, Spain and Portugal)
The spirits drinkers – Courage, soul and drama typify this group. Complete loyalty to each other, sacrifice for country and team, and, heroism also marks out the firewater teams. (Brazil, Russia, Poland and Ukraine)
Conclusion – so science and culture indicate stronger performances then you might imagine from Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland, great progress by France, Spain and Serbia, and heroic efforts by England and Germany. But never, ever discount Tunisia!
Warning – Matthew Hill does not know that much about football!
2PM Dutch Time, 25th June 2018, 1PM, UK time
Sietar Netherlands has recently introduced a Code of Ethics. It has not always been easy. Their journey to finally realize a Living Code of Ethics, combined with a compliance procedure and a compliance committee, has taken three years.
Join us for this special webinar 2PM, 25th June 2018 to meet the three Sietar members that were deeply involved from the beginning.
They will be happy to share their breakthroughs and methods with other Sietarians and interculturalists interested in building up professionalism and process within their own national Sietars and organisations.
Jacqueline Franssens represents the board of Sietar Netherlands and Teuni Looij and Yvonne van der Pol will represent the working group that arrived at the Code of Ethics. They will tell of their highs and lows on the journey to successfully making a robust Code of Ethics.
In the webinar they will answer key questions; Why a Code of Ethics? How did they organize the work? And, How did the process evolve? On what topics did they receive support? And, Where did they encounter most resistance? Finally, Why did they move from working on a Code of Conduct and end up deciding for a Code of Ethics?
Join us for this important broadcast and do please take the opportunity to ask your questions and discover for yourself what is needed to reach a meaningful outcome.
To register simply click on the link and follow the Gotomeeting instructions.