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

Reflection: Leading with Humility

Reflection: Leading with Humility

 The week between Christmas and the New Year often takes on an ‘other-worldly’ quality. Retreat and introspection are nestled soporifically between festive book ends. The world slows down creating space for reflection. 

This kind of benign introspection doesn't take much effort. It would be easy to discount festive downtime as 'cerebral idling'. But it serves an important function in creating distance and bringing perspective to our otherwise hectic lives. 

For those committed to life-long learning and continuous improvement, reflection plays a central role. Margaret Wheatley sums it up in her customary no-nonsense manner:


“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences and failing to achieve anything useful”  

Reflection in a work context is more situation-specific. It requires an explicit evaluation of self and is bound by time and place. Our own backgrounds, assumptions, feelings and behaviour influence how we view things and need to be brought into the mix. Stretch the lens to include the wider systemic context and the foundations for reflexivity are laid. 

How do we extend the benefits of these quiet festive moments into our normal workday lives? Here are some of my reflections.

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Getting people on board with change: Writing that connects

Getting people on board with change: Writing that connects
 Think of what you’ve had to read recently at work. What has created a sense of connection? What has left you cold? Connecting with people in the way we write is a leadership skill. Simple, direct, human language inspires trust and confidence in a way that the language of organisations rarely can. Engaging with staff in person at meetings and learning events is one thing. But how do you capture people’s attention if, for example, you’re leading large-scale change or quality improvement programmes where you also have to connect and engage through the written word? It’s an important question – but one that’s routinely overlooked. And the challenge grows when it comes to working with different cultures as in health and social care. Which words do you choose when people speak different professional languages? How do you find a tone of voice to inspire confidence and trust across multiple agencies? The...
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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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