Pink balls and floodlights – how small changes to traditions produce winning results

cricket bat and ballWhen it comes to sporting traditions, few can rival the sound of (red) leather on willow on a bright English summer’s afternoon.  Idyllic. Iconic.  Cricket at its best…or is it?

It’s certainly a tradition that has stood the test – no pun intended – of time, albeit the sun has not always played its part as wholeheartedly as one might wish.

But over the years, crowds have started to dwindle and some have come to question the five-day format of the sport and whether it can keep pulling in the spectators who are themselves leading increasingly fast-paced lives, rarely able or willing to devote precious time away from the workplace or family to watch their team grind out the runs out in the middle, playing it safe and frequently resulting in a lacklustre draw. ‘At least we didn’t lose,’ fans, commentators and players chorus.

No, but nor did the game make any significant strides forward in maintaining its appeal and, critically, winning round a new generation of followers.

Sound familiar in your business life? Sticking with traditional ways of doing things, not taking any chances by employing some new strategies and tactics, playing by the rules of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t’ fix it’?

You’re not alone. Tried and tested is probably the most typical method of doing business, rarely failing but never taking you to the top of your league either.

So what would happen if you dared to be different, tried dipping your toe in the water of a new way of working, took a winning formula, thought outside the box and just tweaked it around the edges?

We all know the old adage, failing to plan is planning to fail, and to make such sweeping changes to a business model you really need to take those around you with you. It’s what leaders do, and a big part of conveying that message is in the choice of words we use to deliver it.

Pink ballWhen the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that England was to host its first day-night Test Match earlier this month between England the West Indies, they realised it was a chance to capitalise on a new market, engaging with a totally new crowd of spectators. But they also recognised the need to take die-hard fans of the traditional game with them and there’s no mistaking the selling power of the message in their press release announcing the new format and the small but oh so significant change of red ball to pink, required as the traditional red leather is hard to distinguish under the glare of the floodlights introduced for the new playing schedule which ensures bad light will never stop play – an age old problem of cricket in England’s temperamental summer weather. 

You can sense the power of positivity in the words they’ve chosen and the key messages around excitement, innovation and opportunity whilst retaining and building on the link with tradition:

“Bringing day/night Test cricket to England is an innovative and very exciting development for the game, and we’re thrilled that Edgbaston will be the first venue to host a match played in this format.”

“We will be working very closely with our delivery partners and key stakeholders on our planning and operations to ensure that this first ever day/night Investec Test Match is a huge success.”

Neil Snowball, Chief Executive of Warwickshire County Cricket Club

“It’s a great opportunity to attract more fans to the game and see how staging Test cricket in the afternoon and evening fits with working patterns and modern lifestyles, whilst maintaining the deep tradition of Test match cricket.”

“We think it can help attract different fans and families to Test cricket and the innovation will certainly put the five-day game under the spotlight. Our partners can also see the clear opportunity and have been supportive as we build towards this big occasion.”

ECB Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison

Interestingly, more than 98% of tickets sold out and a few weeks before the match, more than 40% of tickets had been purchased by first-time buyers, suggesting the idea of work-friendly hours had won over a new legion of fans.

The fact that England went on to thrash their opponents can only have helped garner support for the new format, pink balls and all!

Tradition has its place in all walks of life, personal, sporting and business, but it counts for little if those in charge aren’t prepared to innovate and take bold, but well-considered, decisions.

Leaders need to demonstrate a variety of qualities to develop and deliver those decisions as there is often a danger they will not be well-received initially. Relevant skills include listening to those around them, engaging with peers and stakeholders, being brave, communicating their decisions positively with those tasked with implementing them, exhibiting and maintaining appropriate energy levels – in themselves and their teams – to secure the best chance of success, and providing direction for colleagues and, ultimately, their organisation. 

Yes, it’s a lot of ball juggling, but effective leaders do this very successfully and steer organisations through changes in direction or the introduction of necessary new business models to keep them at the top of their game.

If you’d like us to help your leaders develop further on their journey, then contact the iTS Leadership team today.

Author: Jayne George

Saving our best for when?

celebrations_fluteschannel no 5I had the poignant task of clearing out my parents’ home a while ago. Amongst many memories unearthed, I came across the most special crystal champagne and wine glasses along with other stunning matching glassware. Also I found the large unopened bottle of Channel No.5 I’d given my mum as a birthday present to make her feel special every time she wore it.

I’d never seen the crystal glassware used in all the time I’d lived there or when I visited and assume that they were a wedding present – so possibly unused in over 60 years.

I’m sure that both the glassware and perfume were deemed ‘too good’ for everyday use and were being kept for special occasions – ‘for best’. Rather like the front rooms of my grandparents’ homes, which held untold mystery to my cousins and myself as small children, as the door was always closed and we weren’t allowed to enter. When, eventually, the door did open for important visitors and special occasions, the best room unveiled its hidden gems of beautiful furniture, ornaments and vases filled with fresh flowers cut from the garden. It was dressed for best and performed well in making visitors feel welcome and important.

doorlightIt struck me as sad that ‘special enough’ times hadn’t happened as the crystal glassware and Channel No.5 remained unused. Or times and events weren’t perceived as being special enough. My cousins and I were in awe of the visitors who were welcomed into the best room as, clearly, they were deemed as being important and couldn’t have failed to feel treated as such. I’m sure their treatment would have affected how they behaved and felt about my grandparents. And I’m sure my grandparents would have been treated with the same respect and indulgence when returning visits.

It made me realise that special occasions aren’t as rare as my parents had thought.

Isn’t every day, every occasion, every meeting and every interaction special? Aren’t all our family, friends, colleagues and customers special? Aren’t we ourselves special?

If we treated ourselves and everyone we interact with, as highly valued, how would that change how we feel about ourselves and how we would make others feel if we get out and use our best crystal glassware and perfume? How would that feeling affect how others and we behave towards each other? What difference would that make to our performance as leaders of our lives and businesses?

bigstock-Business-woman-with-hand-exten-43264675-1It’s easy to let complacency be the norm and let ourselves believe that we’ll make more effort tomorrow for that important meeting. Why not make today and all its interactions be the most important and the people we meet be indulged with our full attention and our ‘best’ behaviour towards them?

I urge us all to spray on our Channel No.5 and raise our crystal glassware to making each and every day our best yet!

If you’d like to know more about getting the best out of yourself and your team, please do get in touch.

Author: Sandra Whitehead

The Lost Art of Conversation

On finally surfacing from an intense few months of work, I have at last transitioned from “doing” to “being” mode, and it occurred to me how little time is afforded to real, meaningful conversations, instead filling our lives with goals, tasks and general busyness.

I feel nostalgic for times past where the long days of summer involved hours of deep conversation, fuelled by the freedom of an unknowing, inquisitive mind.  Of course, in these moments of recollection, I may have donned my rose-tinted spectacles, but it seems to me that real conversation is an increasingly lost art.  We live in a world where communication is supposedly easier than ever.  We are available 24/7 and expect the same of others, we share the details of our lives via multiple social media platforms and often pride ourselves in how many ‘contacts’ or ‘friends’ we have. In fact, we seem to be constantly communicating and yet have less conversation.

conversationIt is a paradox that technology connects us instantly to multiple worlds whilst simultaneously killing real conversation.  The sight of screen-fixed faces leaves me with a sense that technology somehow results in an experience of everyone being lonely together.

The quality of relationships seems to be deteriorating, both within our professional and personal lives.   Organisational demands necessitate a goal focused mindset, with the juggling of multiple priorities and expectations at any one time.  Budgets are stretched and organisational structures lean.   The thought of taking time to have a conversation that doesn’t involve reviewing the latest sales targets or budget revisions but instead is a deeper, more personal exchange seems something aspirational, even a little fantastical.

The price we pay for remaining in this “doing” mode for most, if not all, of the time is the squeezing out of more meaningful connections, resulting in transactional relationships at home and at work.  We have lost the art of how to really converse.

Professor Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describes this as psychological lockjaw.  Whilst many organisations speak passionately about employee wellbeing and invest heavily in enhancing communication skills, with time being such a scarce resource, it feels increasingly difficult to experience a real meeting of minds.  A true conversation is more than just the words, it is what goes on between the participants, in the eyes and the body.  Conversation is deeply personal, it requires a vulnerability that may be hard to show and is mutual, listening to others and being heard.

lonelyAs a coach and psychotherapist, I am often struck by the sense of loneliness and isolation that people experience in their lives.  Despite family and friends and busy professional lives, this real, deep connection is so often absent.   Social connection is a fundamental part of the human operating system, our brains and bodies are designed to function optimally in contact with others, not in isolation.  Our well-being suffers when our need for social connection is not met and before long we can find ourselves dwelling in a defensive state, perceiving the world to be threatening.  From this position, it is a tall order to retain the open and curious mind that enables a deeper connection.

As Cacioppo and Patrick found in their research, when we feel connected we are less stressed, our physical systems work more effectively and we send positive social signals which in turn enables us to receive more positive social signals, ultimately enabling a greater sense of well-being.  It seems the increasing lack of real conversation results in a missed opportunity for greater discovery about ourselves and about others and leaves a world of creativity untapped.

group-conversationSo, I for one am looking forward to rekindling the halcyon days of summer, filled with social connection and long, deep, honest conversations.  Whilst the demands of your daily life may make it seem like just another thing to add to your ‘to-do’ list, I invite you to seize any opportunity over this holiday period to give a little of yourself and welcome the same from others.

If you would like to explore how you may develop the art of conversation, either for you personally or for your business, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

 ~Author: Jill Threadgold

Hold your breath and dare to dream…

Johanna Konta… Britain is on the verge of crowning another tennis champion.

The phoenix is set to rise from the ashes of the women’s game in this country as crowd favourite Johanna Konta powers her way through the draw and finds herself facing one of the game’s legends, Venus Williams, in today’s Wimbledon semi-final.  Now installed as the bookies’ surprise favourite to lift the famous trophy, the British number one has had a strong and steady rise to the top of her sport – not as meteoric as some, fewer headlines than many attract, and generally somewhat under the radar.

But Johanna, born in Sydney, Australia, to Hungarian parents, has spoken before of her obsession with ‘staying in the process’ – a technique that has served her well (no pun intended!) as she has climbed the world rankings since taking British citizenship five years ago. She famously practises mindfulness which she described as ‘a great habit to nurture’ and works tirelessly with her coach, Wim Fissette, on all aspects of her mental attitude as well as her physical sporting prowess. Following her latest Grand Slam progress, I couldn’t help but reflect on one of my favourite books – The Inner Game of Tennis: The Ultimate Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance.

Inner Game of TennisSure, it helps people play better tennis. But it has also been used to great success by applying its principles to other sports. And other areas of life in general. Because reaching peak performance is not just about achieving sporting greatness. We should all aspire to be our best self – whatever our role, career path, position within a family or organisation. We can all learn a lot from our latest darling of Centre Court – staying in the process, keeping focus and always being present in the moment is a valuable skill to learn and live by.

Johanna now knows what she needs to do to perform to a consistently high level. And she does it, day in, day out, on and off the court. Meditation, mindfulness and focus have become the cornerstones of her life and helped her maximise her potential. We all possess a unique skill set. If we combine them with a mental process that works for us as individuals, we can all raise our game. Sometimes, though, we cannot complete our journey to the pinnacles of success in our chosen field on our own.

Cue coaching. Sporting superstars would not be without a coach, and increasingly they are taking on a role over and above focusing on improvements in the forehand or serve technique. Good as they might be, they will never be 100% useful without the right mental approach applied to their delivery.

If you want to hone your existing professional and personal skills, talk to us at about our executive coaching packages and how they can help you stand out from the crowd.

In the meantime, let’s all enjoy being part of this patriotic crowd cheering on a sporting hero at the top of her game – but forever striving for even greater achievements. We can all learn a lot from her game plan.

~ Author: Jayne George

Do you have a Leadership Six-Pack?

six-pack-absI had a real insight last week, I attended Adrian Furnham’s talk, “from Good to Great” in London.  Adrian has written dozens of books on Leadership and I was really interested to hear his thoughts around this topic, particularly elements around whether Leadership is “teachable” or not, the “good to great” hypothesis and why leaders fail.

I was totally captivated throughout his three-hour talk and when I consider why he held my attention so studiously for so long, it comes down to two things; firstly, for me, any individual talking about leadership without exuding presence and charisma themselves doesn’t really do it for me, and Adrian has both by the cart load, secondly, he so eloquently challenged some of my deepest beliefs around the qualities of a good leader and how to spot one, not only in yourself, but in others too!  We are so frequently asked by our clients who we know that is a first class, truly exceptional leader, great people person, has presence, top notch business acumen etc etc.


So, how do we really spot potential in others (and recognise it in ourselves, as we have to lead ourselves before we can lead others…something you will have heard the iTS-Leadership team say more than once…)?

What are the true qualities of a great leader?

Well, traditionally in the corporate world most of us turn to the 9 box performance/potential grid to neatly plot our leaders, but how robust is this familiar tool?  I guess we can plot performance (based on results), but how can we really determine someone’s true potential?

True potential is so organic and can twist and turn as naturally as a river, we are all full of natural wisdom if we choose to tune in and listen to it, but often we get derailed and paralysed by excessive process, detail and politics.  Often during “potential” conversations in the boardroom, one might hear the words; “they will go far, they are bright, they are up there, the next big name…” but what does that really mean, and how accurate is it really, and can it always be backed up with more than a gut feel?  To be fair, I guess we have to start somewhere and the 9 box grid is practical and simple, but maybe too simple, what does it miss?

According to Adrian, he cites six personal characteristics (that can be measured) that give a really good indication of the potential for exceptional leadership.   We call this the “Leadership Six-Pack”.

  1. Conscientiousness – a good level of personal organisation
  2. Openness / curiosity – the more the better
  3. Approach to risk – wouldn’t want this to be too high, or too low
  4. Stress reactivity – how much pressure can they really take when the chips are down, the more resilient the better
  5. Tolerance of ambiguity – how certain do things really need to be – important when thinking about organisational change – would expect good leaders to be fairly tolerant of ambiguity and stay calm etc
  6. Competitiveness – a healthy level, but again not too high as this prevents sharing and can generate self interest

Adrian poses that (when measured) these personal characteristics give a broader view of talent and predicting future success/potential (as opposed to solely looking at performance and potential).  When he was challenged on the ability to relationship build (as a leadership skill) he said that relationship building naturally runs like a thread through these factors.

Food for thought, and maybe it is an “and” conversation, measure the above and then plot on the grid, remembering to measure yourself, as well as your people.  So useful, and one thing is for sure, get the right people in the right roles, then set the direction (the WHAT and the WHY or higher purpose) and the business will flourish, profit and smiles for all.

For more chat around any of the above points, please don’t hesitate to contact the iTS-Leadership team, we love hearing your insights and stories.

~Author: Liz Babb


I have a disease!!!

getty_rf_photo_of_man_with_fluI have a disease!  I’ve only just realised this.  I don’t just THINK it, I KNOW it!!!  I know it because I have seen the symptoms in so many others and very profoundly in the last week.

Sadly, this disease is very attenuating and at worse, completely devastating to those who have it.  Having realised this I need to think carefully about my future, my habits and how I should act in the best interests for my future health and success.

You see, for the last few weeks I have been feeling somewhat ill-at-ease.  Whenever I looked at the P&L, run rates, projections etc., etc. of both targets and goals I had put in place for the business and my personal life, I found myself lagging behind.  Being someone who can be so focused on “delivering” this does not sit well with me.  What should we be doing differently?  What should I do to shake things up? These were questions that constantly echoed through my mind.  My need “to do” was clearly a very natural “habit” to fall into….and yet all this did was make me feel “uneasy”.

To be honest I/we had a good year last year.  Both personally and in business we surpassed many targets and I loved that feeling and was keen for it to continue.  Off the back of this new targets and goals found their way onto paper and then locked into various “plans”.  Now I found myself like a possessed soul desperate to hit these into order to achieve and/or get ‘more, more, more”.

hung-parliament-001On Friday morning, I awoke to the news of a hung parliament following the UK General Election.  The Prime Minister had called this election even though she had a majority in Parliament.  Why?  Well, I guess she thought she could get “more” of a majority and that would make life so much easier.  The result however has more than back-fired and in hindsight seems a bad decision.  I bet Theresa and her advisors also feel “ill-at-ease” now they have seen and are living with the results!!

I guess another word for “ill-at-ease” could be “DIS-ease”?  It got me thinking this weekend that the obsession for us to go for more, more, more is actually a DIS-ease!  How many of us ask: when is enough, enough?  The PM had enough to do what she wanted to do, but how much did she obsess about the ease of having MORE?  How many of us get on the treadmill of “when I/we have x or y then that will be enough” …but in reality, because of our DIS-ease, it never is?

Then, on Friday I read this section of a book (The Space Within, Michael Neill) that turned my whole thinking and my DIS-ease on its head: -

…a perfect metaphor for living a guided life.

“We hang out in the unknown, not knowing what’s coming next but not completely worried about it.  We know something will show up, because something always does.  The next mission will be apparent, either because it presents itself to us from outside or it occurs to us on the inside.  None of it is riding on our shoulders.  The next person will come into our life.  The next opportunity will knock.  When it’s time, it’ll be time, and we’ll get in our planes and fly.”

If the general election results on Friday helped me realise my DIS-ease, the paragraph above was the perfect antidote.  I know this to be true, of course I do…the big steps are always a surprise and always turn up when you’re not looking for them!!

Do you ever find yourself wanting “more, more, more” even though you may not “need” it?  Do you get obsessed with targets that you set yourself…on a daily, monthly, annual basis?  Is there a different way, a healthier way of going about our life journey?

I do believe there is, and this weekend I have enjoyed feeling healthier and so much less” DIS-eased” than before!  Do I have the answers I was looking for? Hell no!  But I know that I am a lot closer now than I was during the week….and I am not even looking for them……

Have a great week.



Reasons to be cheerful – part 3

ian-dury-and-the-blockheads-3Those of you who are a similar age to me will recall the song by Ian Dury and the Blockheads ‘Reasons to be cheerful – part 3’.  I don’t know about you but I often wondered what happened to parts 1 and 2?

But do you know the real reason why we should all be cheerful?  It has been scientifically proven that happiness leads to success, and that this success extends across every domain of our lives, both work and personal.  Happy leaders are better leaders, happy workers are more productive, happy people have better relationships and so the list goes on.

This research therefore turns on its head society’s long held belief that success was the precursor to happiness so when we achieved success then happiness orbited around us.  We now know that success actually orbits around happiness.   This is similar to us discovering hundreds of years ago that the earth orbits round the sun and not the other way round as was previously believed.  The magnitude of these discoveries and implications for our lives is very similar – HUGE!

But what is happiness?  As you would expect, happiness is subjective – it is how we each feel about our own lives.  This has been shown to be a combination of experiencing pleasure with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose.  When we feel we are drowning in work we may think that we would love a life just filled with pleasure, but this would soon feel empty and worthless.  Similarly purpose without pleasure becomes duty and drudgery, so neither scenario leads to happiness.

How clear are you on your core purpose and meaning in life and how much time do you give yourself to simply experience pleasure?

It is far too easy to get caught up in the negativity of our world especially in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.  Spending too much time listening to or watching the news however increases our natural negativity bias to a point where it affects our wellbeing and makes us more risk averse in all elements of our lives.  We obviously need to keep abreast of what is happening in the world but we can also counter this affect by actively focusing on positive things in life.  img_9184Some people keep a gratitude diary noting down three things each day to be thankful for.  These can be as simple as hearing birdsong or someone making you a cup of tea.  There are also lots more zany ideas in the Ian Dury lyrics including yellow socks and nanny goats to name but two!

Whatever it is for you, over time you train your brain to look for the positive in situations rather than the negative and this increases your wellbeing and happiness and therefore also your success!  Would you like more happiness and success in your life?

For more tools and strategies to help increase happiness for yourself and your team contact us at iTS leadership.

~ Author: Ursula Franklin

Daily conflict – the brass band Vs the flute

It’s funny you know, I suddenly found myself with an “empty day”!  All my appointments and meetings got cancelled for various reasons and I have a day to “catch up” – a rare gift!

So the day begins and I have some critical things to get completed for clients, so I focus there first.  Then I have my ever increasing “to do list” to work through, phone calls to make now I have time and then all those emails that have sat in my Inbox waiting for a “quiet time” for me to sit and read them.  Always so much to do and rarely enough time to get it all done.

But then, just after lunch I have an insight….what SHOULD I be doing to add greatest value to me,
the business and my customers?  All of a sudden I am blank, I have no idea!  So I decide to take myself for a walk and the strangest thing happens!  I start to feel GUILTY for leaving my desk and phone and my THINKING behind!

“I should be thinking about the next big thing!”

“I should be working hard to get another big client!”

“Where’s the next big thing coming from?  How will I find it?”

and so on and so forth…..the noise in my head was deafening!

It has been a beautiful day.  The sun was warming my back.  People I passed had smiles on their faces.  It was so good to be out to be honest.  And as my snowglobe of a mind gradually settled, I realised that everything is OK, there’s no need to panic, no need to try to think of the next big thing, just BE….and then everything will happen when it is meant to.

flute-2216485__340brassbandhire1Someone described THINKING to me “like a big brass band, so loud and noisy in your head you can’t hear anything else at all!”  whilst innate WISDOM is “like the solo flautist”.

I love this analogy as it demonstrates clearly that in order to be the best version of ourselves we need a very calm mind…then, and ONLY then, will we be able to hear our wisdom.  It’s always there, of course, it’s just we drown it out with all of our noisy thoughts and thinking!

…and finally, in the words of Beverley Knight

“coulda woulda shoulda are the last words of a fool”

Be happy.  Have fun today.  “Now” is all we ever have.



The Tipping Point of Effort

Have you ever noticed how the slightest change to a positive word or action can result in a new negative meaning?

effortTake the word ‘effort’, for example. Immediately we hear it and conjure up an image of someone working hard, trying their best, giving their all for a cause. Laudable so far – but what about when all that hard work gets you nowhere because the cause is lost, or one that no matter how hard you try, you cannot influence? That’s when upbeat ‘effort’ becomes draining ‘efforting’.

We all do it subconsciously so whatever our role in a team, it is useful to take stock of situations routinely and ask ourselves if we are making a valid effort, for which we will be duly rewarded, or if we are ‘efforting’ and wasting energy which could be used more effectively on other activities to achieve a more significant business outcome. The difference is immense and potentially game-changing.

Take parents choosing their child’s first school, a personal journey I have just completed. From the time a child is born, parents spend time considering which school their little one will attend for the best education and nurturing experience.

With half an eye on Ofsted reports during the toddler years, I visited several potential schools to view the set-up and see if they were the best environment for my twins when the time comes to release them into the care of teachers for the next 11 critical years in their development.

Activity around school open days and discussions at the nursery gates increased, the ‘what if?’ choosing-a-high-school-more-stressful-than-buying-a-house-20150311150128.png~q75,dx720y432u1r1gg,c--questions multiplied and the various merits of reception classes analysed to the Nth degree. Endless effort to get it right.

Finally, after much angst, the list was whittled down to three and the application submitted. My efforts over, the decision was in someone else’s hands now. The whole experience was draining – and still the effort was going into comparing the implications of which school would be given to us.

I’ve come to realise that all the ‘noise’ around choice of school, all the stress we put ourselves under, all the effort put into the selection process can be labelled ‘efforting’…the art of placing too much emphasis on trying to influence things that are ultimately beyond your control, damaging well-being along the way and taking over a disproportionate amount of time which would be far better served on other more worthwhile pursuits (sleep, exercise, quality time with children to name but a crucial few).

Sure, make an effort – the best you can for your children, naturally – but take a step back and acknowledge the real risk of transitioning into ‘efforting’ and turn attention to other aspects of the parenting journey.

Anyone reading this who has juggled the joys of parenthood with honing their leadership qualities can see the same principle applies in business.

There are times when it’s important to accept that you’ve given a situation your best effort and no more can realistically be done to influence the outcome; a project has run its course, that hard to manage colleague is not going to change; you’ve squeezed every penny out of a budget and cut services to the bone. I sense a few heads nodding now, reflecting on circumstances where you’ve felt at your wit’s end wondering what more effort you could possibly put in to bring about your desired outcome.

If something feels like an effort, you’re probably ‘efforting’

There are no hard and fast rules here, but generally speaking if something feels like an effort, you’re probably ‘efforting’ and fast sliding into a negative spiral.

As a guiding principle, take stock and apply the LEAD concept to your leadership of the situation:

  • Listening,
  • Energy Management,
  • Authenticity,
  • Direction.

If you’re applying all of those to your maximum potential, in all probability you’re making the required effort appropriate to the circumstances in front of you.

If you wish to know more about the iLEAD Principles of Leadership and Teamwork and how to bring them to life, then please do contact one of us.

Author: Jayne George

“Curioser and Curioser” cried Alice in Wonderland …..

150410_ALICE_LAND….. it could be argued that Alice’s curiosity led her into trouble just as the proverbial cat can attest.  I prefer to believe that curiosity used as a leadership skill can open up possibilities, provide a foundation for innovation and contribute to strong relationships and rapport with employees and customers.

Curioser was a word coined by Lewis Carroll in his book Alice in Wonderful in 1865.  The Oxford English Dictionary cites the phrase as meaning ‘increasingly strange’.  Certainly curiosity draws us towards the unknown through a strong desire to know or learn something – an urge felt to know more.

Can you remember the role our curiosity played in our childhood experiences and learning?  Yes, sometimes it got us into trouble – falling off walls as we tried to see over to discover what mysteries lay behind?  Curiosity brought us great learning opportunities, discovering the world and repercussions of our actions.  I wonder what will happen if I add this chemical to that chemical – what reaction will it give?  What if I add more?  And more?  Ahh – too much!  Won’t do that again – will do it differently next time!  The learning our curiosity brought was unbounded and kept rewarding us with increased knowledge, emotional experiences and close bonds with friends.

Jack Welch, CEO of General Electrics (GE) during 1981-2001, was a strong proponent of curiosity and the learning this brings an organisation.  He said:

“An organisation’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Using that approach and embedding it into the organisation’s culture contributed significantly to GE’s value growing by 4,000% during Jack’s tenure as CEO.

I’m curious as to how we can replicate that in our own organisations.  Curiosity and applying learning are key components of embedding innovation and so to build the skill of curiosity is to encourage and have acceptance for tough open questions, challenging assumptions and complacency.  When faced with situations or ideas with which we don’t agree, it’s easy to ask questions that are common to us and which are really just statements to prove our own point of view, our own reality.

interestedInstead, we could suspend our judgment and be curious about other people’s positions to understand their reality, be open to their perspective and test our own assumptions.  We could be surprised by what we learn about other people, the situation, unbounded possibilities and ourselves.

Curiosity is a great attitude to have to build relationships and rapport when used authentically.  It quickly drives full engagement and explored far-reaching experiences.  Leaders who are genuinely curious about their employees and their customers and demonstrate that they are committed to understanding other people, build enriched relationships and a robust commercial and energetic workplace culture.

I’m happy to get curioser and curioser …… and if you are too, then please get in touch.

Author: Sandra Whitehead