The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic - Peter Drucker

The TurningTides Blog

Ideas and inspiration from Turning Tides

Being trusted across the divide: The real leadership challenge?

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To be trusted across barriers. Certainly a goal worth striving for in times of social, political and organisational change. Leadership of the highest order must surely be one that builds unity on difference. 

Trust in a divided context

Nelson Mandela died a year ago today. He devoted his life, and forfeited his freedom, to bringing unity to South Africa. His legacy was a blueprint for leading in a way that inspired trust across divisions.

Reflecting on what Nelson Mandela represented gives us a glimpse of what is needed in a leadership that transcends difference. First there was the courage to stand firm for equality, even though it often meant standing alone. Then there was the compassion and understanding which enabled him to forgive those who had acted against his efforts. 

Both political and systemic, the divisions can be traced back to 1948 when the Afrikaner National Party won the general election under the slogan “apartheid”.

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Helping change leaders find their way through complexity


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Whether responsible for leading it or involved in implementing it, planned change can be overwhelming and isolating regardless of your experience and competence as a leader. So it's a major focus for TurningTides. Our Executive Coaching Framework comprises three elements - individual, relational and systemic. It's the systemic element that I want to focus on in this post.

Leaders can lose their bearings in organisational complexity 

Work environments are complex these days. Organisational boundaries are less clearly defined as services integrate and centralise in pursuit of greater collaboration and efficiency. Leading change in this context can be pretty demanding. There's a lot to think about, not least of which is connecting with, and maintaining positive relationships with the people involved in the changes.

In reality 'planned change' is a bit of a misnomer. The complex adaptive nature of systems means that the environment within which organisations operate is constantly changing and the human response, both inside and outside the organisation, tends to be unpredictable.

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Person Centred - It's in how we write too



To let new learning in, you have to let some of the old stuff go. An unsettling experience even though the old ways may no longer be serving you well. 

This was last week. I was in Spain (Sierra de Aracena) for the second in a series of three Creative Writing for Business programmes offered by Dark Angels. My introduction to the Dark Angels' approach was the Foundation programme in Inverness-shire last October (2013).

An immersion in Aracena business life inspires a different way of looking at how we communicate through the written word. Along with two others from the group, I was privileged to spend time with a local sculptor - Alberto Germán Franco. We learned about his work and philosophy on life. Despite the recognition he receives for his sculptures, Alberto showed profound humility. It was an inspiring experience. 

Working together we processed, negotiated and captured the essence of our experiences in a written piece. Alberto was invited to a reception where we read our collective words in return for sharing his time. The experience made us deeply conscious of the writing we do in relation to our work. But of course that's the whole point.

How often do we think so deeply about how we write in a work context? I'm thinking particularly about health and social care services where most of my public service experience was based. Elspeth Murray's poem 'This is Bad Enough' captures with cringing clarity just what happens when we get it wrong.

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