Business as usual or time for a change? Thinking Tank 27.08.2009

Overall the group are aware of the need for a change in style in this Thinking Tank carried out in partnership with Aspire Coaching. The time for rigid leadership styles is over, in our fast changing world, flexibility is key.

  • Someone like Obama is changing what being a leader means

80% of comments about leadership style are about TRANSFORMATIONAL (traditionally female) attributes.
Communicating is the most frequently mentioned behaviour for a leader today while the need for emotional intelligence and empathy are also well recognised. Teamwork is an important aspect of this approach.

  • The key attributes are good communications, clarity of vision and purpose, high emotional intelligence, openness

The group see a growing need for honesty and openness in the way senior management deal with their teams… as well as a demand for a more ethical and sustainable approach to business decisions

The remaining 20% of comments about leadership style are about TRANSACTIONAL (traditionally male) attributes.
Despite the emphasis on transformational attributes there were also several comments about the need to be tough as a leader.

  • Leadership is a tougher job in an uncertain climate and it takes more than a sympathetic ear for staff concerns!

Some comments are about leadership in general – neither transformational nor transactional
Clarity and focus are important for any type of leader and inspiring visionary leaders are valued. Customers are mentioned in the context of the need to understand their needs in order for the business to survive

Lastly, the process of business leaders in a peer group discussion was seen as useful by many participants and there was a desire for ongoing on-line connections

  • We need some radical changes. Business and people need to be led by STRONG leaders with clear vision and the will to tackle the issues

The wordcloud for the whole debate looks like this (the bigger the word, the more it was used / supported). See full report here.results leadership 0908

Does corruption matter? Thinking Tank 04.06.2009

A lively debate at a time when corruption—particularly among politicians and business leaders—is often in the media. The group debated personal and public corruption, and the difficulty of defining what is acceptable (according to personal circumstances and cultural norms). A key conclusion was the need to instil a clear sense of right and wrong in young people today so they can operate successfully in an environment where corruption is increasingly challenged.

Top Comments (60%+ endorsement)

Personal responsibility was a key theme

  • Don’t tolerate it. Be vocal. Be transparent where you can, and be consistent in saying no
  • The solution starts with us, not with the government
  • It is about personal integrity and doing job you are paid for, otherwise don’t take the job
  • I was encouraged by a supplier to pay in cash to avoid vat – I felt dirty and disappointed in myself for even considering it

And institutional corruption and its underlying causes

  • it is scandalous for politicians to be corrupt
  • there is some intrinsic corruption due to bonuses , share price and personal ambition that makes important business leaders corrupted and take decisions that are not in the interest of stakeholders, but of their own bonuses..
  • government are responsible for putting the framework into place and checking the rule of law is applied

Cultural differences were discussed and the difficulty of standing up to endemic corruption

  • corruption is not just monetary, it can also be about how relate to other people – needs to become more of guiding principle
  • there are a lot of good people including in governments in very corrupt countries who wish the system was different – but they need help as becoming an outcast often means no food on the table
  • there still is very little protection for company “whistleblowers” ; mafia bosses who repent get far better treatment and do not end up be being sacked by their employers !

Suggested personal and public actions to tackle corruption included

  • corruption is most effectively attacked by the individual who suffers it speaking out and exposing individuals by name through the media including the web
  • Transparency is the way forward. Make public everything you do and hear as a public officer. Secrecy is the key foundation of corruption
  • Start from the base, kids need to learn integrity
  • Ensure that score cards or compensations do not corrupt decision makers to neglect important value considerations for stakeholders
  • Get politicians on Thinking Tank sessions
  • Give back the extra change, point out when we’ve been overpaid, don’t lie
  • I’ll talk about this with my kids over dinner – I’m interested to see where their views differ from mine and if any guidance is needed (probably from them to me!)
  • This has been a useful reminder that the NORMAL thing is to say no to corruption. IT’s not weird or unreasonable. Quite the opposite.

New Year New Politics? Thinking Tank 07.01.2009

As Obama steps into his new role, at the Thinking Tank we started the year with an experiment in reaching political decisions without political parties. A number of you proposed motions and we worked together to look at the key pros and cons and reach a decision.

And yes, it worked. Online technology offers different opportunities and we had a thoughtful and constructive debate which led to the following motions (in order with the most strongly supported first) being agreed by the majority.

PROPOSAL: No more party politics. Governments should govern – but guided by constant monitoring of the needs of the people they serve.

  • Even what we are doing now [online brainstorming] is a method that can be used better by politicians – be it already to check alignment
  • It will engage and give some responsibility back: people can then no longer talk about them the government or politicians

PROPOSAL: We cannot afford to economise on innovation

  • Necessity is the mother of invention. we need innovation now to address global warming, food distribution, wars, lonely old people, so many problems still waiting for solutions
  • Innovation creates energy, hope, new opportunities a future.. and this is perspective is what we all need

PROPOSAL: A new global movement should be started based on the principle that each individual is a member of the world constituency.

  • This would help to overcome the “them and us” approach and remind us that we share the planet and all need to cooperate to survive
  • innovation could come from an internationally important project such as power, disease eradication, poverty addressing, etc. But not by individual Govts, as they would tend to be selfish

PROCESS (on-line debating and convergence)

There were also some interesting observations about the process of online brainstorming in order to develop our thinking and reach better conclusions

  • This is a good tool to get quick feedback and input on key choices
  • Even what we are doing now is a method that can be used better by politicians – it’s all ready to check alignment
  • Present-day technology (such as blogs), is a useful tool for ‘direct democracy’

Proposal: start www.ThinkingTank aligning more and more people in this idea

  • The Obama texting captured people’s attention when everyone thought voting was doomed to decline… this could do the same

Join the debate

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