Speaker Blogs Archives – MFL Global

Learn to think like the smartest business leaders in the world

When we read stories of some of the world’s top achievers or hear from the world’s best innovators, it can feel as if they see the world differently to the rest of us. It’s no surprise to discover that most of them have actually worked deliberately to cultivate this as an ability.

Over the years, the team at TomorrowToday have engaged with some really great and smart leaders, and have also worked with some of the world’s leading leadership experts who have done formal and extensive studies of the world’s best leaders.

We believe that there are 5 important ways that the best leaders THINK that is different from the rest of us. We should all learn these and do them ourselves:

1. Think in Frameworks

The difference between great and ordinary thinkers is that for ordinary thinkers the process of using models is unconscious and reactive. For great thinkers it is conscious, deliberate and proactive. Great thinkers think about their thinking.

The world’s top achievers collect the most effective mental models from across all disciplines. They test these models out and internalise them so they always have them available, and they apply them in their daily lives.

Great thinkers, good leaders and top achievers work hard to find, evaluate and assimilate as many different frameworks or mental models as possible. We all know a few already, I am sure: the 80/20 principle (for prioritisation), introverts vs extroverts (to explain personality and where people get their energy from), the scientific method of controlled experiments (so we don’t rely on dodgy evidence), crowdsourcing (an updated version of brainstorming, to find ways to hear more opinions) and social proof (the new way people seek to verify their decision making), etc.

What should you do?

Aim to add one new mental model to your toolkit each week for a month. Choose one, study it and then practice applying it.

2. Be curious, read widely and seek out differences of opinion

Not every leader is good at this, but most of the truly great leaders we’ve met are. These days, great leaders ask great questions. It used to be that the task of the leader was to have the answers to questions, but in a world that’s changing as much as ours is right now, this is no longer a defining feature of a top achiever.

Instead, we need people who are good at asking the right questions. We need to develop the habit of asking probing, insightful questions that cause others to pause and think. We need to ask ourselves questions that invite reflection, interrogation and fan the flames of genuine curiosity.

What should you do?

Start each week with a key question that will guide your week, and ask that question at least three times per day each day. My favourite question is “Why do we do it THIS way?”. You could also try: “How is this growing me?”, “What’s the bigger picture?”, “Is there a better way?” or any number of other provocative questions.

Take time out each week to decide to investigate something you don’t understand or don’t know enough about. Actively develop your curiosity and allocate time in your diary to allow your curiosity to guide your reading and interactions with others.

3. Know the limits of your abilities, and build a team around you to ensure there are no weak areas

Strengths-based development has been the revolution of the past two decades, and it works. Focus on your strengths: identify them, build on them, develop them. And then compensate for your weaknesses by building a good team around you.

What should you do?

If you haven’t done so yet, read Markus Buckingham’s “Now Discover Your Strengths” or “Strengthsfinder 2.0” by Tom Rath. Identify your strengths and the strengths of your closest colleagues and team members.

Discuss these profiles with each other, and know where one person will be strong, and others weak. A team is not just “there for each other” – a good team knows which team members do what tasks best. Work on this together.

4. Hold paradoxes in tension

The world’s top achievers don’t see the world in black and white – they are very good at seeing the shades of grey in between. They are able to recognise that there are many different ways of looking at every issue, and don’t need everything to fit into neat little boxes. They are even prepared to hold competing and conflicting ideas in their heads (at least for a time), while they wait for new information and clarity to emerge.

What should you do?

This is a hugely difficult skill to learn. It involves not just mental ability, but also the development of EQ and social intelligence. And, most of all, it requires the taming of the ego.

We can recommend one activity to you: take a topic that you are fairly knowledgeable or opinionated about and seek out someone who holds a different view to yours; then, take the time to ask them explanatory questions (as opposed to interrogative or gotcha questions) that will enable them to explain their view to you.

Do not attempt to change their view, attempt only to understand it. Then, armed with this knowledge, find someone who shares the same viewpoint as you, and try to change their mind by arguing the opposite of what you actually believe.

5. Be very clear about what levers need to be pulled

The best leaders and top achievers that we know are laser-focused, and they do this by clearing out the things that don’t really make a difference – they clear them out their minds and out of the schedules. They get rid of clutter and focus the majority of their time, attention and resources on just a few things that will make all the difference in the future.

Knowing what those things are is part of the key to being a great leader, and we haven’t found any magic formula for working out what is really important. But it does seem that this is a question great leaders ask themselves: “is what I am about to do really going to make a difference”? If the answer is “no” then they invariably don’t do it.

Of course, it’s the luxury of being in leadership that you can delegate tasks to others, but this ability to do the most important work first, and to know what the most important work actually is, is what separates the great leaders and achievers from the merely good ones.

What should you do?

Don’t just have a “to do” list. Also keep a “not to do” list. These are activities, issues or even relationships that you’re in the process of removing from your life.

Be more conscious of all your activities, interactions and relationships in the next two weeks. After each one, do a quick assessment of whether they are (a) important, (b) maintenance jobs that just have to be done, or (c) not important at all. See what you can do to get rid of at least one item from the third category each month for the rest of this year

‘Creativity and Intuition’ is just one of the 8 skills that our team have identified as the essential skills required for success in the future of work. Together with the Future of Work Academy that offers individuals and teams access to continuous learning & development via our online lessons and courses for all 8 of these skills, our team has also just finalised a keynote presentation (that can also be run as a half day or full day workshop) that addresses these 8 skills.

This is a great starting point for any organisation wanting to help prepare their people and teams for the future of work! It’s practical, challenging and provides great insights gained from years of research and working with clients around the world.

Article written by TomorrowToday – Graeme Codrington and Dean van Leeuwen

If you are interested in the keynote presentation or online lessons and courses, do get in touch

Car Share would have been right up Einstein’s street

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”   – Albert Einstein

I’m with Al on that. And I’m pretty sure he’d have been on board with me and Paul Coleman when we came up with the idea for Car Share. Two people? In a car? We only see them on the way to work and then home again? An absurd idea for a sitcom. Yes it was ridiculous. But we knew there was hope for it. There’s so much fun you can have with a couple of well-constructed characters, constrained together in a confined space like a car. So much recognisable reality to draw upon. But it was only absurd because it hadn’t been done before; because it broke conventions of how a sitcom should work, and because we had no idea what we were doing. But as Albert also said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And we had that in abundance. We imagined up a couple of characters based on people we both knew and on male and female truisms. I imagined Kayleigh’s mum had been a big Marillion fan in the 80s and named her daughter after their biggest hit. We imagined how Kayleigh could wind John up in his car, and we imagined how John would slowly but surely fall for his new car share buddy. But we never imagined Peter Kay would love the scripts so much he’d want to get on board.

And having trained hundreds of people in the art and science of creativity over the years, I know why the best ideas do at first seem absurd. Here are three reasons why…

    1. The best ideas don’t quite fit with how we currently see the world. New ideas, innovative ideas, original ideas, when we first have them or hear them, should make us stop and wonder if they make any sense. If it immediately seems altogether sensible then the chances are it’s too similar to something we’ve already got.
    2. No idea is born fully formed. So at first, the best ideas begin life as a challenging thought that has to jolt us out of our safe thinking; a seed of a thought that could grow very quickly into something wonderful, or more likely a germ of an idea that seems too absurd to contemplate, so it nestles into the fertile soil of our subconscious and when you’re least expecting it – when you’re walking the dog, or in the shower, or dropping off to sleep – when your busy conscious mind shuts up long enough for your subconscious to get a word in edgeways…. “Oi! Remember me… “ that little seed of a thought will have blossomed into a big, flowering idea that, now you’ve had time to sleep on it, doesn’t seem so daft after all.
    3. The best ideas make us laugh. Because we laugh at the truth (“Oh my God, my mate is just like Kayleigh/ Alan Partridge / David Brent / Kurtan Mucklowe”) and we laugh at surprise (“Bloody hell, I didn’t see that coming!”). And truth and surprise are the two main ingredients of great, absurd ideas. That’s why, when I train teams in how to run better ideas sessions, I’ll make sure they’re on the lookout for the laughs. If you start laughing while you’re bouncing ideas around it’s because someone has said something with an insightful truth at the heart of it, and they’ve said something that surprised you. In short, they’ve said something that seems absurd. So it’s probably an idea there’s real hope for.

So yes I’d like to think that Einstein would have approved of our absurd little idea. But just because an idea seems ridiculous at first doesn’t always mean it’ll turn into a belter.  Sex Lives Of The Potato Men sounds absurd…

Article written by Tim Reid.  For more information on Tim click here

Adam Greenfield’s latest book: Radical Technologies

Adam Greenfield is an expert in smart cities, urban design and emergent technologies. In his latest book, Radical Technologies, Greenfield discusses the new technologies changing our lives at rapid speed: blockchain beyond Bitcoin, machine learning, AI, the internet of things, 3D printing, autonomous drones and driverless cars.

The leading technology and urban thinker draws on his experience as former head of user-interface design at Nokia and his current position as Senior Urban Fellow at LSE Cities and instructor in Urban Design at the Bartlett, UCL.

A field manual to the technologies that are transforming our lives.

The evangelists of technology promise innovations—from smartphones and 3D printing to bitcoin, AI and machine learning—to transfigure our lives. But at what cost?

In this urgent and revelatory excavation of our Information Age, Adam Greenfield forces us to reconsider our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define us.

We already depend on the smartphone to navigate every aspect of our existence. We’re told that innovations—from augmented-reality interfaces and virtual assistants to autonomous delivery drones and self-driving cars—will make life easier, more convenient and more productive. 3D printing promises unprecedented control over the form and distribution of matter, while the blockchain stands to revolutionise everything from the recording and exchange of value to the way we organise the mundane realities of the day to day. And, all the while, fiendishly complex algorithms are operating quietly in the background, reshaping the economy, transforming the fundamental terms of our politics and even redefining what it means to be human.

Having successfully colonised everyday life, these radical technologies are now conditioning the choices available to us in the years to come. How do they work? What challenges do they present to us, as individuals and societies? Who benefits from their adoption? In answering these questions, Greenfield’s timely guide clarifies the scale and nature of the crisis we now confront—and offers ways to reclaim our stake in the future.

“Adam Greenfield goes digging into the layers that constitute what we experience as smooth tech surface. He unsettles and repositions much of that smoothness. Radical Technologies is brilliant and scary.” Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, author of Expulsions

“We exist within an ever-thickening web of technologies whose workings are increasingly opaque to us. In this illuminating and sometimes deeply disturbing book, Adam Greenfield explores how these systems work, how they synergize with each other, and the resultant effects on our societies, our politics, and our psyches. This is an essential book.” Brian Eno

Key Steps to Ensure Your Business Meets its Performance and Profitability Potential

The financial services sector is dedicated to benchmarking organisational performance, and this information is critical to us as  individuals, be it for our own careers or as investors. Seemingly small annual differences can have a significant impact on the performance of our investments and pensions in the long term.

Our current expectations of what organisations should be delivering are less than they should be. Today, most organisations, large or small, are performing significantly under their potential. Financial experts, CEOs, and executive teams fail to see this, and consequently fail to address it. It does not help that poor performance has become somewhat common and hence acceptable.

Nonetheless, this problem can be solved at minimal cost, using knowledge that organisations already have at their disposal. Poor performance is primarily driven by the ineffective implementation of tasks and strategies. The number of initiatives or actions that are fully and successfully implemented in most organisations is only about 20–30%.Put simply, organisations have to do three things to reach their potential:

1. Ensure that everyone can do the job by putting in place the right skills and knowledge

2. Ensure that everyone wants to do the job and gives their best using their skills and knowledge

3. Focus these skills and knowledge on what delivers success for the organisation

Ensure that Everyone Can Do the Job

Consistently, evidence shows a that majority of employees do not have the full suite of required skills or knowledge to do their job. For example, time-management capabilities are often lacking. With leaders, this is even worse. I consistently find that less than 30% of leaders have been taught how to delegate effectively, something they must do every day. Unless this fundamental skill is in place, organisations can’t possibly reach their full potential.

Encourage People to Give Their Best

Having skills and knowledge is not enough to maximise performance: people must be inspired and motivated by their leaders to give their best. Employees must care about producing the best outcome — what I call ‘care’ leadership. We all know from our own experiences what encourages us to give our best effort on a day-to-day basis. But strangely, under the pressure to ‘get the job done’, leaders often fail to give their people meaningful inspiration and motivation, hence the avoidable under-performance.

Evidence suggests that less than 20% of staff in most organisations are giving their best performance. Roughly 70% ‘just do the job’, giving minimal effort, while 10% actually negatively impact on colleagues. The 70% who just do the job could potentially give the organisation 30% more ‘discretionary’ effort if they wanted to. If that 70% performed even only 15% better, organisational performance would totally transform, and quickly.

Key Steps to Ensure Your Business Meets its Performance and Profitability Potential

Today, most organisations,large or small,

are performing significantly under their potential

Making this transformation is surprisingly easy. I have proactively asked leaders around the world what made them give super performance for the best boss they ever had; the answers are consistent globally, irrespective of culture, sector, or level in an organisation. They were simple day-to-day actions, such as “[my boss] ‘asked me for my ideas’, ‘listened to me’, ‘developed me’, ‘let me get on with the job’, ‘treated me fairly and with respect’, ‘showed they cared about me’, ‘supported me’, and ‘trusted me’”. If you personally reflect on the best boss you’ve ever had — what they did and how much they inspired you — you will understand exactly how this works.

All these actions cost the organisation nothing, and can be immediately and frequently implemented. The two impactful steps discussed so far unleash the power of human neuroscience to produce positive responses that cause people to genuinely care about the outcome, the team, and the organisation. The uplift in performance is significant: fair and accurate feedback can increase employee effort by up to 39%, and telling people how what they do fits into the bigger picture by 35%. In fact, if line mangers just show they care about people, this would likely increase effort by 26%.

If this effort is made by all leaders across an organisation, they could increase the chance of outperforming competitors by nearly 70%, increase revenues by up to 40%, halve days lost through sickness, increase earnings per share by up to 2.6 times, reduce the risk of loss of talent by 87%, and help in managing reputational risk. In one construction company I worked with and implemented the above actions in, those happy to recommend the company to friends or family as a great place to work more than doubled, from 40% to 83%, in just two years.

Essentially, it is about inspiring people to want to do the job, not just telling them to do it: employees’ decision to give high performance is 57% rational and 43% emotional. A case for simply doing the job sans emotional inspiration has half the potential for success. Further, line managers account for 80% of the emotional element and over 50% of the rational element, meaning all line managers have to be good at sparking inspiration in order to get the best from everyone, not just those managers at the top.

Focus on What Delivers Success

Evidence suggests that failure to align operational activity accurately to strategic objectives could mean that 20% of operational activity is wasted. The solution is simple: regular team meetings and cascading of objectives ensure that everyone understands the ‘big picture’ and how they can align best to it; these are cost-effective but highly impactful techniques.

If the above three key areas were focused on, potential improvements would not only impact your bottom line by 10–20%, but also improve customer service, implementation, innovation, brand building, cost efficiency, and even risk management. These measures boost all critical performance drivers in a sustainable way, and all of them are so simple. In fact, people already know how to implement them. They also cost nothing to implement and can be practiced as early as tomorrow.

With this in mind, there is, in fact, no excuse for organisations not to reach their potential and quickly add 10% or more to their bottom line.

By Chris Roebuck, Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership, Cass Business School, UK

The three most successful sales expressions

There are three sales expressions that have consistently been shown to work in almost any situation. They’re practical, easy to use and based on years of study.

Philip Hesketh 5People don’t want to be persuaded. They don’t want to be ‘forced’ to do something, so the first of the three expressions is simply this: ‘You are free to choose’.

Why does it work so well? Because it tags onto the end of your request a phrase that reaffirms people’s freedom to choose.

Their choice.

When my sons were young I would use this technique to stop them from swinging from a dangerous tree, trying to jump over a fast running stream, or just discouraging them to test the temperature of a domestic appliance by holding it against their bare skin. ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. But it’s up to you’ I would say. Okay, so maybe it didn’t always work but, on the upside, I did get good value out of the Harrogate and District Hospital A&E service.

Chris Carpenter of Western Illinois University carried out research in this area involving some 22,000 people. What he discovered was that by simply adding the phrase ‘But you are free to choose…’ doubled the chances of people saying ‘yes’ to a request. The only phrase that achieved a higher success rate was ‘Or I’ll kill all your family’.

Just kidding.

But that would probably work too.

2.

The word ‘but’ is inherently confrontational BUT, when used with the second most successful expression it works well.

Sales expression number two is: This might not be right for you but…’

It comes from the same basic psychology that we don’t like to be hemmed in and have our choices reduced. That only serves to make us even more closed-minded. The important thing is that the request is made face-to-face, otherwise the power of the technique diminishes.

As with all effective methods of influence rather than persuasion, this whole technique is about ‘helping’ other people come to the decision you want through their own free will. They need to feel like it was their decision. And it means they are less likely to change their mind later. Respecting people’s autonomy has the happy side-effect of also making them more open to your influence.

3.

And the third expression is “When you say..”. Whenever someone makes a statement or gives you an objection the best way to progress the conversation is to use what psychologists call ‘linear questioning’ where you repeat back – in part – what they say so that the other person really feels that you are truly listening to them. And ‘When you say…’ helps you do exactly that.

Article by Phil Hesketh, an expert specialising in Persuasion and Influence

Diversity and inclusion are not optional

“To work in football, you need to know football.”

“We’ve already addressed diversity; we have 30 per cent of women on our Board.”

“We can’t purchase that, we’ve only ever sponsored cricket and polo in the last 50 years so let’s stick to that.”

These are just a handful of the eye-rolling quotes I have heard from C-suite professionals this past year while working in sport sponsorship, illustrating that despite appearances and PR stints, the sports industry continues to dig its heels in, ignoring widespread economic pressure.

This has created an entire industry that is riddled with a lack of diversity in almost every single way, which has far-reaching consequences beyond profitability. Although it’s often said that “Everyone knows that a diverse and inclusive process – in whatever area of sport you are in – leads to improved results” (Alex Coulson, executive director of Sport Industry Group after launching the first Diversity & Inclusion Award at the BT Sports Industry Awards in 2018), I’d strongly argue that most people don’t truly know the benefits because they aren’t experiencing them, because they just are not happening.

If you are internally shaking your head proclaiming that “this article doesn’t have anything to do with me,” then I’d encourage you to look to the two people sitting next to you at work.

If you are internally shaking your head proclaiming that “this article doesn’t have anything to do with me,” then I’d encourage you to look to the two people sitting next to you at work. Then read on.

As someone who spent almost a decade kicking down the door to the sports industry and finally being let in, I feel I have a unique perspective. While it’s now common for me to speak at sports sponsorship events, what is uncommon is to be speaking with another woman on a speaking panel. Rarer still is to see another mixed-race person on the speaking programme. While this is great for loo queues, it continues to boggle me how little has changed in that decade.

Who are we letting in?

My father is an expert in architecture.  I grew up listening to stories of him building things and have been onsite with him my entire childhood. I could tell you a surprising amount about wood. However, my exposure to architecture does not warrant me with any actual experience in architecture. It’s quite the opposite in fact (recently I resorted to watching YouTube videos on gingerbread houses with my goddaughter because mine refused to stand up).

As I am sure you would agree, it would be ludicrous for any architecture firm to hire me just because I used to be exposed to it and hear about it second-hand.  And yet, we consistently see the hiring of former sports players appointed to roles that include Commercial Director and Operations Director, as if somehow playing rugby with the team has given them unique insight into getting bums on seats to watch the game. You only see this hiring process in the sports industry. You don’t come out of the dentist with multiple crowns to then go operate on someone’s mouth.

And yet, the sports industry not only continues to use this process, but vehemently supports it with very little evidence that this selective hiring process is benefiting the organisation. It’s instinctive because it’s protective.  But it also implies that no experience is required for the majority of roles within the sports industry, so it’s no wonder we continue to hire the same type of person.

Diversity is not enough; you have to go deeper

With the onslaught of marketing messages that we receive, creativity is now vital for success. Creativity cuts through the noise and authentically connects to your fans and customers.  Without creativity in today’s challenging marketing landscape, any industry is dead.

As many people are aware, diversity significantly increases creativity by increasing both the exploration and generation of ideas. But the concept doesn’t just stop there. It is deep-level diversity that we need to create. Deep-level diversity (e.g., personality, values and abilities) rather than demographic variables (e.g., gender, age, and race) is the type of diversity which is the most influential in increasing creative output, as discovered by Mariateresa Torchia in a research study at the Reinhard-Mohn-Institute for Management and Corporate Governance in 2015.

By reviewing individual differences, one can access creativity on a more granular level – which is what is needed when working on projects and objectives for the masses (which often sport is). Conversely, creating diversity through demographic variables alone hinders creative output due to the fact that they perpetuate stereotypical and prejudiced characterisations. Therefore, putting ‘more women on Boards’ can actually hurt your aims for true diversity if those women have similar backgrounds to the other 70 per cent of the people on the Board.

Take a chance

Unsurprisingly, to make real change often takes real money, in addition to support and PR. The sad truth is there is a fundamental lack of investment in the areas that could support this ideal. From a brand perspective, no Director will ever get sacked for buying the same sponsorship platform and activating it in the same way as their predecessor. Therefore, we are lacking the investment at the outset to make these kinds of changes in any significant way. Brands purchasing sport sponsorship rights continue to be pressured internally to buy the same thing, and work in the same way – often at the reticence from their agencies. If investment does not change, then the growth of new platforms and new areas of sport remains stagnant.

Even with those platforms outperforming expectations, they often create an imbalance, rather than an influx of cash. This imbalance is prevalent across the sport sector – from the continued and exponential increase in engagement with eSports without the same increase in sponsorship investment to the increase in broadcast rights for women’s sports unmatched by the level and number of brand sponsors with women.

The lack of diversity seen with brands in purchasing sport sponsorship rights does not help the wider diversity and inclusion issue across the industry as it continues to encourage and reward the status quo.

Who is missing out?

Sadly, it’s the fans that truly miss out. Diversity and inclusion in the sports industry should reflect wider society and more specifically the split of the fan base. Diversity and inclusion issues were never brought up as aggressively historically, because this information was not so readily available. You never knew who your team’s fans were outside of your own community, and very rarely knew who sat on the Board. With the influx of information now at our fingertips, the disparity uncovered by sheer volume is difficult to ignore.

Most relevant is the fact that millennials, who will comprise nearly 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025, not only feel diversity and inclusion issues are crucial, they manifest higher levels of engagement and performance in companies they believe are inclusive. Without recognising that diversity and inclusion isn’t just a fad, but a need, the sports industry is at risk of losing its fans – both current and future.

And what then becomes the future of sport without fans?

Article written by Jackie Fast, Founder of Slingshot Sponsorship

The Bystander Effect

by Caspar Craven

I was in Annapolis in Maryland a three weeks ago at the start of my book tour.

It was just after 9am.

I’d just crossed the road and was walking down the street.

I was stopped in my tracks by a large noise.

I spun round and saw a person flying through the air. A car had skidded to a halt.

I was less than 30 metres away.

There were two people standing closer than I was.

I immediately had two conflicting reactions.

One was “there are other people there. They can handle this” And besides I’m catching a bus to New York in less than two hours and I still have a list of things to do.

The other was “my goodness some person is hurt. They need help”.

I reasoned with myself for a split second.

I remembered I’d trained as a ships doctor and had more medical knowledge than most.

Of course I had to go and help. There was no other option. It was quite simply the right thing to do. The only thing to do.

I’d attended Hero Round Table (http://heroroundtable.com) as a speaker last year and I’d recalled Ari Kohen (Professor of Political Science at Nebraska University) talking about the Bystander Effect. Where everyone stands around assuming someone else will handle things. And no one at all does anything. There are many such tragic documented cases.

As I got closer, the windscreen was smashed and the man was lying in the middle of the road. Teeth smashed in, blood running down the side of his neck. Clearly not in a good way.

No one was doing anything.

I knelt a foot or so away from the guys head and asked if he could hear me.

I asked several times before he replied.

I reassured him he’d be ok and asked his name.

He told me.

I looked to the guy standing to my left.

You sir in the red jacket, please can you call 911.

I carried on talking to the guy.

He asked if I could call his Dad.

I got the number and asked the red jacket to call his Dad while I continued to talk to him and re-assure him.

Within a few minutes the paramedics arrived and took over.

Did I do anything medical?

No.

I simply reassured him. I can only imagine he’d be absolutely terrified.

That and making sure that the emergency services were being called.

Why do I share this?

In case you are ever in a situation like this, don’t be a bystander.

You don’t need to be medically trained.

I didn’t use any of my training.

I simply reassured the guy and made sure the emergency services were called.

Don’t be the bystander and assume someone else will do this. Evidence abounds that we assume that others will step in and reality shows that so often someone doesn’t.

Here’s the key takeaway:

In your business, in life, in everything, don’t assume someone else will do something. Being a leader means being the person to step in. 

Become a Presenting Superhero – FREE Masterclass

With Jack Milner, who has over 20 years experience helping organisations and individuals articulate and memorably communicate their ideas, working with the likes of Google, Virgin Media and Commerzbank and as varied as Microsoft, London Business School, the Department for International Development, the NHS, Cisco and MacMillan.

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The single most important lesson in business, cricket and life

Exactly 106 years ago today, the Titanic left Southampton for New York. Five days later, the ship they said was unsinkable, did the unthinkable. And ever since then, its name has been synonymous with failure.

The saddest thing is that the signs of impending disaster were there for all to see. Unfortunately, the people who should have seen them, chose to ignore them. It’s called the ‘paradox of power’ and one hundred and six years on, we’re still trying to understand why it happens.

Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, compares the feeling of power to brain damage, noting that people with lots of authority tend to behave like neurological patients with a damaged orbitofrontal lobe, a brain area that’s crucial for empathy and decision-making.

He argues that once bestowed with authority, we become less sympathetic to the concerns and emotions of others. Instead, we often rely on stereotypes and generalisations and spend much less time making eye contact, particularly when a person without power is talking.

So how does this explain the Titanic disaster and the huge loss of life? Well, powerful men in positions of great responsibility simply chose to do the wrong thing. J. Bruce Ismay, Managing Director of the White Star Line, ordered that the Titanic’s lifeboats be cut from 48 to just 16, despite it carrying more than 2,000 passengers. Why? Because he was sure they would not be needed.

Ismay took another bad decision in appointing his friend, Henry Wilde as Chief Officer at the last minute. This mean that Chief Officer William Murdoch was demoted to First Officer and Second Officer Charles Lightoller made Third Officer. Second Officer David Blair was asked to the leave the ship. And took with him the key to the cabinet that held the binoculars on the bridge. And if lookout, Fred Fleet, had had binoculars (known as ‘glasses’ back then) on the fateful night of April 14th, he would have seen the iceberg before he did.

And the disaster would have been avoided.

And no, I am not making that up.

Captain Edward Smith knew there was a major ice field ahead but kept the ship at 20 knots – too fast to avoid an iceberg when the lookout had no binoculars. Jack Phillips, the wireless operator, was too busy sending telegrams from First Class passengers to notice a key ice warning. And when the warning message was finally picked up and taken to the bridge it was not seen by Captain Smith. He was busy having dinner with the wealthy George and Eleanor Widener.

I could go on. It was an abuse of power that directly led to the deaths of 1,509 people.

And it seems that the lessons have still not been learned.

Six years ago, Captain Francesco Schettino was not wearing his glasses on the evening when the Costa Concordia capsized with the deaths of 32 passengers and crew off the Italian island of Giglio. He asked his First Officer to check the radar for him. Presumably, he wasn’t wearing his glasses either. And there’s also the suggestion that the Captain’s attentions were maybe more focused on the blonde dancer, Domnica Cemortan, with whom he was having a relationship. He has since acknowledged that he brought the ship too close to the shore and should have pulled out much earlier. She declined to comment.

Perhaps Captain Steve Smith and Vice-Captain David Warner were also powerful men in positions of great responsibility who simply chose to do the wrong thing?

There is no easy cure for what is known as the ‘paradox of power’. But if there is transparency and people know they’re being monitored, it can help discourage them from doing bad things. People in power tend to overestimate their moral virtue. They lobby against regulators, and fill corporate boards with their friends. The end result is power at its most dangerous.

So here is the most important lesson in business:

Beware hubris.

People in power so often become complacent. And the power corrupts them.

It’s the message at the heart of my book, ‘The Seven Golden Rules’ which talks about the lessons we could and should have learned from the reigns of Henry VIII, his three children and, of course, the tragedy of the Titanic that was setting off on its journey 106 years ago today.

Article by Phil Hesketh, one of the country’s top professional speakers on sales motivation.

Disruptive Implications of Autonomous Vehicles

Jim Harris writes on the disruptive implications of autonomous vehicles in a cover story for Disruption magazine, Canada.

Click on the image below to read the full article.

Disruptive Implications of Autonomous Vehicles 1

 

What is tone of voice?

What is tone of voice? And what does it mean for an organisation’s values, brand, and… security?

Ben Afia and Bruce Hallas discussed this recently.

Ben and Bruce cover:

  • How getting tone of voice right can help you write policies and get people using them
  • How tone of voice can bring a brand to life, or hurt it
  • Understanding your audience and what they want to hear
  • Heavy-handed vs lighter-touch communication
  • Defining your brand and values to reach tone of voice
  • Creating change by getting people around the organisation engaged

The Challenge of Saying It Like It Is

Pritpal Tamber is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bridging Health & Community, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to transforming how we approach health so that it goes beyond health care and public health to include fostering the ‘agency’ of a community – its ability to make purposeful choices.  After speaking at an event this week, he’s shared his blog with us:

I’m sitting in Business Class on Emirates on the way back from Dubai. I’ve just spoken at an event held by a health insurance company. They held the event to illustrate to their regional partners that they’re thinking hard about the future of health, including making care more personalised and reducing its cost.

The thing that really struck me is how it’s hard to present an alternative narrative to those that dominate.

The narrative I deliver is how health care has gotten out of control, become too expensive, and fails to respond to what really matters to people. It’s a critical narrative, one that forces audiences to look in the mirror and think about whether they’re part of the problem and need to change.

The other speakers weren’t so challenging, at least not in such a fundamental way. They challenged the audience to embrace more technology, take note of how Generation Z (is that a thing?) conduct their lives, and be aware of how poorly trusted health insurers are, but they didn’t challenge the very shape of the industry. By being silent on it, they effectively endorse it.

That surprised me. It seems to me that if anyone should be holding health care to account its those that need to pay for it. And yet there seemed to be an acceptance that the way things are can’t be changed. Some of the executives even shared with me (over an excellent lunch) how they’d personally received care that was clearly driven by revenue rather than need (whether clinical or cosmetic). There was a collective shrug in the air.

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