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.

Leadership Brand

What it was:

Session on Leadership and personal brand at Ashridge as part of Future Leaders Scheme residential module one. August 2017.

What I learned:

Your real leadership brand is what other people say about you when you leave the room.

Leadership brand has various Attributes:

  • Contacts (judged on who you associate with)
  • Story
  • Appearance (image you project)
  • Presence
  • Behaviour (collaboration)
  • Purpose
  • Values
  • Talents (what are you famous for)

To consider:

  • What is the source of your authority? Why should anyone be led by you?
  • What do you expect of others?
  • What stories do you want other people to be telling about you?
  • What type of leader do you want to be remembered as (legacy)?

If you’re not constantly evaluating these sorts of things, you are potentially dangerous!

In the book “Why should anyone be led by you” they examined “what do followers want?”

  • Community (feel part of something)
  • Authenticity (not a robot leader)
  • Significance  (something that matters)
  • Excitement (new and interesting)

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • I will try to develop (write down) my leadership brand
  • I will read: “why should anyone be led by you”