HOLD YOUR HORSES, BE­FORE YOU FILL THE VALUE GAP

Where do the un­achieved as­pi­ra­tions and wasted hu­man po­ten­tial of your cor­po­ra­tion dis­ap­pear to?

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Where do the un­achieved as­pi­ra­tions and wasted hu­man po­ten­tial of your cor­po­ra­tion dis­ap­pear to?

The ‘ Value Gap' – a black hole – should be the start­ing point for your search. This gap could well de­cide whether your de­vel­op­ment is proac­tive and knowl­edge-driven, or rud­der-less and re­ac­tive. As Brené Brown ex­plains in her ac­claimed best­seller Dar­ing Greatly:

“The space be­tween our prac­ticed val­ues (what we're ac­tu­ally do­ing, think­ing, and feel­ing) and our aspi­ra­tional val­ues (what we want to do, think, and feel) is the value gap, or what I call ‘the dis­en­gage­ment di­vide.' It's where we lose our em­ploy­ees, our clients, our stu­dents, our teach­ers ...”

Cor­po­rate lead­er­ship is slowly but surely mov­ing in a more whole­some di­rec­tion. The shift from the in­dus­trial era to the knowl­edge econ­omy doesn't only al­low but de­mands hu­man­is­ing our work en­vi­ron­ments.

Re-wiring your cor­po­rate DNA

The knowl­edge econ­omy has a stronger em­pha­sis on ser­vices - though not the kind that can be de­liv­ered by un­skilled or barely-skilled labour. Th­ese ser­vices re­quire in­depth knowl­edge, re­source­ful­ness, cre­ativ­ity and in­spi­ra­tion, as well as in­tegrity and em­pa­thy on the part of the ser­vice provider.

How do we en­sure that our or­gan­i­sa­tion nur­tures a knowl­edge-based cul­ture and op­er­a­tion? By adopt­ing two key­words in your cor­po­rate par­lance and be­hav­iour: Trust and Con­nec­tion. For your em­ploy­ees to be cre­ative, re­source­ful and empathetic to the cus­tomer's needs, for them to show in­tegrity in ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion with the cus­tomer, they need to be in­spired, em­pow­ered and en­gaged. They need to be in­volved in cre­at­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion's val­ues and en­abled to live those val­ues on a daily ba­sis.

In or­der for this en­vi­ron­ment to be cre­ated and sus­tained, em­ploy­ees need to work to­gether rather than against each other.

But that calls for a change in the na­ture of the lead­er­ship. It is now about en­gag­ing the em­ploy­ees, unit­ing them un­der a common pur­pose. The mis­guided prac­tices of the

past of play­ing em­ploy­ees off against each other, sham­ing them pub­licly and hir­ing and fir­ing on a whim have less place in this econ­omy.

The leader now needs their em­ploy­ees' knowl­edge and ex­per­tise, and the cre­ative in­put from ev­ery­one.

The leader-col­lab­o­ra­tor

So the def­i­ni­tion of the leader has shifted from the ‘all know­ing, all pow­er­ful' to the one who keeps the vi­sion alive and keeps ev­ery­one en­gaged by cre­at­ing an in­spir­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tive at­mos­phere that is built on trust and con­nec­tion.

The power dis­tance has to de­crease and a feel­ing of mu­tual re­spect – “we're all in this to­gether, every­body counts” – needs to pre­vail for this to work.

Mar­shall Gold­smith, the world's num­ber one lead­er­ship thinker*, says in his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There:

“Here is the place where you can be the CEO of a thriv­ing company (...) But here is also the place where you can be a suc­cess in spite of some gaps in your be­hav­iour or per­sonal makeup.

That's why you want to go ‘there.' There can be a bet­ter place. There can be a place where you can be a CEO who is viewed as a greater leader be­cause he doesn't get in the way of his peo­ple.”

As the leader, I now need more feed­back, more - and deeper - un­der­stand­ing of what mo­ti­vates and en­gages my em­ploy­ees, what en­cour­ages them to trust me enough to put an idea out there, to con­vince them they won't be ridiculed, tricked or taken ad­van­tage of if they share their ob­ser­va­tions and ideas with me.

As em­ployee en­gage­ment is fast be­com­ing the num­ber one pri­or­ity of the mod­ern leader, for all the rea­sons de­scribed above, lead­er­ship be­hav­iour has be­come the num­ber one area of fo­cus. With Mar­shall Gold­smith Stake­holder Cen­tred Coach­ing, this is ex­actly what we fo­cus on.

The feed­back fac­tor: Whis­pers from a horse?

So we agree that in or­der to be­come bet­ter lead­ers it would be use­ful to get some feed­back on our be­hav­iour? Yes? So far, so good. But who qual­i­fies to give us that feed­back?

One great source, as out­lined above, are those who know us best, who in­ter­act with us on a daily ba­sis.

Another great source, one that could add a com­pletely dif­fer­ent – and com­pli­men­tary – per­spec­tive is some­one who has no prej­u­dice and who can af­ford to be com­pletely open and hon­est in their feed­back.

The cyn­ics among you would prob­a­bly wa­ger it was im­pos­si­ble to find some­one like that... but that's be­cause you're only think­ing of hu­mans. But what if it's the feed­back of a horse? A twist to the horse whis­perer? Highly sen­si­tive, horses act like mir­rors, mak­ing you acutely aware of how you en­gage and lead.

Job ti­tles mean noth­ing to horses, and their re­spect and trust are not au­to­mat­i­cally given. Lead­er­ship is earned through demon­strat­ing authenticity and truth­ful­ness.

That brings us to Equine As­sisted Learn­ing, an emerg­ing field in which the horse acts as a non-judg­men­tal part­ner and re­flects what tran­spires dur­ing the process where the par­tic­i­pant and the horse work to­gether. The ef­fect of this two-day pro­gramme goes far beyond learn­ing about lead­er­ship; it is ex­pe­ri­en­tial and hands-on trans­for­ma­tion.

It of­fers ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing, a unique ap­proach to lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment. Its aim is to pro­vide a nat­u­ral op­por­tu­nity to over­come self-aware­ness and de­velop self-con­fi­dence, lead­er­ship skills and emo­tional in­tel­li­gence com­prised of a va­ri­ety of man­age­ment, prob­lem solv­ing and team build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Whether you get there through the feed­back of your col­leagues, of horses, of a men­tor or coach – or, bet­ter still, you af­ford your­self all of th­ese ben­e­fi­cial/valu­able/ fruit­ful in­sights – you'll see that in or­der to get there you had to let go of some of what got you here. If change is the only con­stant, then con­tin­u­ous evo­lu­tion is the only man­date for the leader

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