SLS/FLS MOD engagement event

What it was:

Talks and conversations with senior leaders and alumni of development schemes, mainly from within defence, at the Ministry of Defence on 5 March 2018

What I learned:

  • Action Inquiry: Every moment is an opportunity for development, experiment, reflection
  • Exploit your competitive advantage
  • Seek out role models
  • Who you work with is more important than what you work on
  • Need to be sharp and concise on commissioning the right work from the right person
  • You can’t afford to have an off moment, especially when in large groups
  • Have respect for the people in your team; that means preparing properly when speaking to groups
  • As an introvert you need to be an actor, and build in recovery time on your own
  • “Positive deviance” – the ability to challenge and do things in New ways. Leaders need to be able to observe and enable this behaviour
  • In the second year of the schemes there is more onus on self organising networks. There is not an anchor – it becomes a fight to stay in contact with people.
  • Need to challenge the other people in your cohort, if they don’t contribute they are taking a place away from others who wanted to be on the scheme
  • FLS makes you better able to succeed at SCS interviews as it helps you frame your style, think about the emotional impact, talk about your corporate contribution
  • End of scheme reviews are in December January

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Try to pursue partnerships with specific individuals who are likely on a similar development journey as me
  • Look up the “two pies” approach (?) that was mentioned
  • Make a concerted exploration on doing a secondment to industry
  • Practice being more precise in commissioning work from others
  • Take more time to prepare for speaking to the team
  • Gather contact details for others on development schemes and try to maintain the network

Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI)

What it was:

An exercise to measure ourselves against the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) model (aka ‘red green blue triangle’) as part of the Future Leaders Scheme at Ashridge in November 2017.

What I learned:

I came out of the SDI exercise as red (“asserting / directing”) but close to red-green (judicious / competing) and the hub (flexible / cohering). Under stress or pressure I move to the hub.

I recognised all three in me, but perhaps the hub most of all

Your self-perception is based on your motivation, which form as intentions, which in turn express as behaviours.

Other people’s perceptions of you are the other way round – they are based on your behaviour, which expresses your intentions, driven by your inner motivation (which other people can’t see!)

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Learn more about what I can do with SDI
  • Recognise when people are moving along their long vectors, it should be obvious they are stressed.
  • Note that for people with short vectors, it may not be obvious they are stressed, I may need to come to them to see if they need support
  • Always maintain healthy scepticism of SDI and similar personality models!

Future Leaders Scheme: Module one – introduction

What it was:

An introductory session to the residential Future Leaders Scheme (FLS) residential module at Ashridge.

The objectives of the module:

  • Build network and relationships
  • Develop personal leadership development Goals
  • Gain insight into your leadership strengths and styles
  • Insight into how your behaviours impact others
  • Aware of neurological and physiological responses to pressure
  • Develop your own leadership brand

What I learned:

Watch out for crises – they can be addictive!

It’s lonely at the top and you can trust the feedback you get less and less. Have a small number of confidantes.

Leading change and transformation is the leadership required in the high uncertainty, high disagreement quadrant.

Management is doing things right – Leadership is doing the right thing.

An organisation can be thought of in different ways, as a Newtonian machine, as a natural system, or as a psychic prison of what you can and can’t do.

Peter Robertson:  all business efforts undergo an s-curve of success followed by decline. Successful organisations jump as their s-curve dies.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Build relationships with a small number of senior confidantes.
  • Try to write down my personal brand.
  • Ask the team whether they are being stretched, being challenged, being developed.
  • Think about whether I occupy the same role in leadership at work as I did or do in my family.

Future Leaders Scheme: Leadership under pressure

What it was:

A talk and interactive session on leadership, held as part of the Future Leaders Scheme at Ashridge in November 2017.

We also completed a ‘leadership dilemmas’ exercise that looks at choices under pressure.

What I learned:

A simple model for how the brain works:

  • “Brain 1”, the autonomic nervous system; Sympathetic nervous system, works fast. Controls fear, fight, flight.
  • “Brain 2”, Parasympathetic nervous system; Controls rest and recuperation.
  • It’s essential to balance sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Without balance, we lose cognitive function, become tired and stupid!
  • “Brain 3”, the conscious thinking mind. Brain 3 has not evolved fast enough for us to cope with modern world.
  • Under stress, brain 2 perceives threat, activates brain 1, brain 3 shuts down.

Sweet spot between challenge and threat is “correct thinking under pressure”- this is what you should always aim for.

My leadership values, according to my guesses (!?):

  • Future leaning
  • Integrity
  • Honest and open
  • Engagement
  • Innovation
  • “Excitement, adventure and really wild things”

My leadership values, as evidenced by the ‘leadership dilemmas’ exercise?

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Openness

What will I aim to do differently as a result:

  • Consider an exercise to reconcile what team say about me and what I said about myself
  • Develop and write a “why should anyone be led by you statement”
  • Keep momentum on learning and development
  • Write this all up!

Who are you? Exploring the intersections of identity

What it was:

Day of talks and discussions with Richard Heaton, MoJ permanent secretary and civil service race champion, plus other speakers from across Whitehall, held at the MOD on 11 October 2017.

What I learned:

Intersectionality is typically when people are a member of more than one minority group e.g. someone who is LGBT+ and a member of an ethnic minority.

Some of the hardest challenges are faced by people at these intersections – but  these intersections are also opportunities to embrace and enhance diversity.

“Diversity is being invited to the party… Inclusion is being asked to dance”

Different aspects of intersectionality may manifest in different contexts e.g. in a room full of men you are a woman, but in a room full of white people you are black.

What if you bring everything that you are to the party?

Authenticity is key.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Think about my ‘micro behaviours’ with my own team – do I use exclusive language / make exclusive judgements without conscious awareness?

Be more inclusive – for example, make sure team events are inclusive.

Ask new team members about their background.

Think about my privileges, what they are, and how I can use my privileges to help others.