Present Tense, Future Perfect: Introduction to 2nd Show

Guest is Dr. Peter Hirst, Associate Dean for Executive Education at the Sloan School of Management on the Topic of Neuroscience and Management/Leadership

Before I introduce this week’s guest, Peter Hirst, of MIT, let me review where we are on our journey to create a future more perfect when confronted by the challenges of Globalization, Innovation, Climate Change and Technology.

Last week with David Horth we looked at why and how innovation becomes problematic for many organizations in our current economy. What becomes apparent are the tensions between the operational needs of a business, which is to make the products, which, when sold, make the profits that keep the business running, and the innovation needs, which are essential to keep the business planning for the future. We can picture a curve, which reaches a peak, before it begins to move in a downwards direction. The peak is when a business is performing well and making money, and the dip in the curve is when that product or service is no longer a best seller. Innovation needs to begin long before that curve has reached its peak and begins to decline. Such a scenario requires special skills of leaders. The enterprise as a whole can only manage these tensions via discussion and dialogue. Simple techniques to talk about, but difficult to implement. For the moment, we are going to leave the discussion on innovation at this point. I know many of you may be asking the how question. How do leaders do differently to make innovation happen and how does the organization engage in dialogue and discussion. We will tackle these issues later on in the program series, so I hope you stay tuned.

This week we will focus on the actual science behind these behaviors. It is a field called Neuroscience. If we want to name the most significant developments in this century (and perhaps before) in the field of human behavior, and especially how it relates to the workplace, I would say the insights we have gained from Emotional Intelligence and Neuroscience. The two are connected.

Neuroscience gives us the explanation of why being an emotionally intelligent person is a better predictor of success than IQ. As an example, think of the character, Sheldon Cooper, on the Big Bang Theory. Here’s a man with 2 Ph D’s and a theoretical physicist. Obviously, extremely intelligent. Yet his success with the world around him is significantly limited by his inability to be self-aware, and to understand the impact of his behavior on others. Neuroscience has shown us neural connections in the brain that have allowed us to develop a deeper understanding of how the brain and behavior connect. Looking into the brain shows us our emotional regulation strategies.

What is important to point out here is that we know, and it can be proven, that thanks to Neuroscience, we have a clearer picture of the mind body connection. In the 20th century (that sounds so far away now!) Antonio Demasio wrote a book called Descartes Error, in which he hypothesized that feelings were a powerful influence on reason. The mind and the body are connected, which refuted Descartes’ idea that they were entirely separate. This idea is highly influential in the arts and sciences and has been for centuries. Neuroscience and its focus on neural connection proves otherwise. Emotion and reason interrelate with one another in the mind and in the body.

So what is Neuroscience? Neuroscience is the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does. Its focus is on how the brain works. Originally, neuroscience was considered a sub-discipline of biology, but today it is an interdisciplinary science which works with other fields.

What interests us in this series of programs is social neuroscience. It explores the biological foundations of the way humans relate to one another as well as to themselves. One of the most important aspects of this social neuroscience is that it tells us that much of our motivation driving social behavior is governed by an organizing principle. That principle is to behave in such a way to minimize threat and maximize reward.

Insights from the field led Daniel Goleman to popularize the concept of Emotional Intelligence. Furthermore, he related this to leader behavior in the workplace. In 2008, David Rock coined the phrase, neuroleadership in a book entitled Your Brain at Work. In it, he applied neuroscience findings to the study of leadership and coined the phrase, neuroleadership.

We also know how neuroscience informs us on how change happens, or doesn’t. How and why trust develops in teams and in the workplace. Its role in promoting creative thinking and innovation, and employee engagement.

Rock has developed a model which tells us which are the top 5 social rewards and threats that are important to the brain. This is what Rock calls SCARF. It is a brain based model and describes what he believes are the common factors that activate a reward or threat response in a social situation. SCARF stand for status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

When any of these factors are threatened or presented with change, the brain activates the limbic system and puts it on alert This provokes the ‘flight or fight’ response. Organizations which impose change on their employees without regard to their status considerations and needs for security and predictability and leaders who ignore the relatedness and fairness needs of their staff, trigger negative responses in the brain. This leads to distrust and disconnection between management and employees.

We’re on a journey together to see if we can find some answers to our personal dilemmas as well as our organizational dilemmas in a fast -changing world. We need to understand what’s pushing change in our lives before we can devise solutions on how to deal with it. Join me as we explore what’s happening in the present, so that we can design a more perfect future.

Present Tense, Future Perfect: Introduction to 1st Show

Guest is David Horth, Director of Innovation Venturing and Partnerships, of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC, on the subject of Innovation and Leadership

Present Tense, Future Perfect is a radio show about leadership. Not any leadership, but it seeks to enquire into the factors responsible for today’s turning point in history and if those of us engaged in developing leaders are doing it right. How are organizations, societies, and individuals being impacted by changes in our world? How do we develop leaders to respond to them? What changes can we make today to have an impact on tomorrow? This holds for us on a personal level as much as on organizational and societal levels.

What are the factors which are reshaping our world? I was asked what I saw as the principal challenges facing organizations today. I responded, Globalization and Innovation. Then I heard Thomas Friedman talking about his new book, Thank You for Being Late. He identified the first two and added, Climate Change, and Technology. I could agree with that. In fact, one could well argue that Technology is the principal driver of the first three.

Developing leaders for a future (and a present) reshaped by these factors is the overall theme of the program. However, over 16 weeks we intend to explore with experts in their fields,

  • The effects of Globalization on our economies and labor markets and how global and international companies are responding
  • How Innovation both excites those companies engaged in finding new ways to satisfy their customers, but also challenges them because it requires a dual focus on maintaining the current business while planning for the new
  • What does climate change mean for our agricultural requirements and do rising sea levels mean massive population shifts within and among Continents?
  • If Moore’s Law tells us that advances in digital technologies will grow exponentially every 2 years, what does it mean for humans’ ability to maintain control over the machines and devices?

One of the show’s guests, who will remain nameless for the time being, made an astute observation. Perhaps organizations today are expecting too much of their leaders. With that in mind, we’ve invited guests to talk about Mindfulness, stress management, the introduction of yoga into the workplace, and meditation. If the world is moving at such an incredible pace and our ability to learn how to catch up with the factors responsible for change is challenged, how do we anchor ourselves and keep in touch with our humanity, our souls, our feelings?

Personal development, growth, and fast learning may be our competitive advantage, but at what cost?

Each of our guests will tackle a theme and bring their knowledge and insights to it. As the show progresses, we invite listeners to phone in with questions and comments. The hope is to provoke, stimulate, and inspire.

We invite you to listen to Present Tense, Future Perfect, and to participate.

We’re on a journey together to see if we can find some answers to our personal dilemmas as well as our organizational dilemmas in a fast -changing world. We need to understand what’s pushing change in our lives before we can devise solutions on how to deal with it. Join me as we explore what’s happening in the present, so that we can design a more perfect future.

My first guest is David Horth, Director of Innovation Venturing and Partnerships at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina. David’s background makes him perfect for our first guest. He is a designer, facilitator, and coach, wo specializes in the confluence of design, innovation and leadership development. Our show this week is going to focus on the dilemma of polarities, that is, how do businesses keep the day to day operations going, which make them money, while, at the same time, putting resources to innovative ideas.

David’s background includes 21 years in the computer industry. He led the innovation which won the Queen’s Award for Technological Innovation in 1985. His publications include an award winning book, The Leader’s Edge: Six Creative Competencies for Navigating Complex Challenges.

Thank you, Mrs. Moneypenny!

For saying that

“Your Coach may have it tougher than Amelia Mauresmo”

One of the things I most enjoy on a Sunday morning is sitting down with my Lapsang Souchoung cup of tea and reading the Weekend Financial Times. Religiously, I read the Weekend FT every Sunday morning I can. I turned first to the columns penned by Mrs. Moneypenny. I say, turned, in the past tense, because she is no longer writing for the Weekend FT. I saw her column that I am referring to in Thursday’s edition in June (to be exact, June 19th of this year).

You are probably asking yourself, who is Mrs. Moneypenny, and, who is Amelie Mauresmo. More later about Mrs. Moneypenny. Amelie Mauresmo is the new tennis coach that Andy Murray hired before the Wimbledon championship.

Mrs. Monneypenny is the CEO of a business enterprise, which consults other business enterprises on how to be more efficient and effective. She is a woman who hunts, flies her own small aircraft, and raises 3 children, all boys, whom she affectionately refers to as Cost Centres, #1, 2 and 3. No, she is not a single parent. She is married to an Australian, who is mad about cricket. When she reflected on her experiences as an executive, mother, and writer, she didn’t think hiring a coach would do her much good. She did hire one, however, female, but not French, at the insistence of her non-executive director. The NED thought the company could perform better if its chief executive were likewise performing better as a business leader and, as she puts it, ‘not killing herself in the process.’  Much to her surprise, and my delight, as an executive coach, she began to see the value of having a coach.

In a Right Management survey of human resource professionals, 81% of the respondents said that coaching improves the effectiveness of leaders. But what the leaders? What do they say? Which is why I am thanking Mrs. Moneypenny for telling us she saw the value in having a coach.

Coaches are not necessarily there for the professional recalcitrant, which was the common perception a number of years ago when I began coaching. “Tom is not performing up to par, his performance review is very negative, his 360 degree feedback reports are way below the norms, let’s hire him a coach and see if that could turn him around before we fire him.”

I would like to think today the view has changed. Coaches are there for those who are already playing a top game and help them play it better. Coaches are not hired as advisors, or even mentors. They are there to help their clients effect change.  They are especially useful when clients are blocked in some way. The client wants to get to point B from point A, but there is a boulder in the path.  Coaches help the client take another perspective on the problem or find a way to go around the boulder. They also encourage clients to reflect on how they make decisions, work at relationships, lead and work in teams, as well as balance what can be the conflicting demands of work and personal lives.

The idea is that the coach assists the client in becoming self-sufficient. Coaches are not there to create dependency, but to facilitate the client’s learning so that they can handle life on their own.

Having a coach is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is sign of confidence in our ability to learn, grow, and thrive.

Reading Mrs. Moneypenny’s revelations about the benefits of coaching made me question whether or not this coach needs a coach. I especially thought about that when I had the results of a Personal Directions Inventory assessment I recently took. The assessment was developed by the Management Research Group and I am currently becoming a certified user. Receiving my own feedback report is a part of the process.

I looked at some scores and thought, “I don’t like what I see. I should do something about that.”  The premise of the PDI is that we create our world. What we make, we have the power to change.  That is pretty empowering, not to say inspiring. I believe we create our worlds – and what I created, I can change.

Which brings me to a thought many of you might have. Do coaches take their own medicine? Do they become ‘coachee’s’? Or, in professional parlance, are they supervised in any way?

Most coaches do both. One of the most important things I learned at the Hudson Institute, where I was trained in an ICF certified program, was the importance of knowing the Self as Coach. I must thank Pam MacLean for that. Who and what I am, is what I bring to my clients. Pam says Hudson coaches are the best. I would like to think that is true. Not because it means more clients, but because it means I am becoming a better coach, mother, friend, and lover.

So, thank you again, Mrs. Moneypenny for your stimulating articles which nourished me on Sunday mornings and for sharing so much about yourself and your experience with a coach.

Brexit, Globalization, and the Disenfranchised

As someone who works to prepare people for life in a globalized economy, the vote in the UK (which was England in particular) to exit the EU was very disappointing.  Aside from the shock that the vote went to ‘Leave’, I felt very dismayed.  After spending 20 years in the UK, I am proud to be a UK citizen and admired the English, Scottish, and Welsh for their resiliency, their version of democracy, their pragmatism, and their ability to adapt.

On example is that the UK willingly gave up its empire after the war, unlike some other colonial powers, with dignity.  It saw the writing on the wall after the Second World War that colonialism was no longer a viable method to manage an Empire. Colonialism was no longer an option in a world that craved independence and, for some, democracy.  It didn’t always work out that way, but the UK did try to prepare the colonial elites to assume leadership in their newly independent countries.

We need to be reminded that the predecessor of the European Economic Community was the European Coal and Steel Community.  It was championed by a Belgium, named Jean Monet.  He saw a united Europe as the only way to promote the recovery of the damaged economies resulting from the II World War, to promote democracy so that Fascism could never triumph again, and to defeat the specter of Russian expansionism and communism into the West. Its successor was the means by which Germany rehabilitated itself in the eyes of Europe. To this extent, it has succeeded in creating levels of peace and prosperity in Europe never seen before.

In terms of leadership, here was a period of both vision (appealing to the heart) as well as the head (implementing European unity).

The change in the world at the end of the war is being echoed in these days and times.  When we look at the mega trends in economics, population explosion, and social change in the world today, we see that globalization has posed as much opportunity as threat to the West.  The growth and future belong to the emerging economies, which are non-Western.  Population growth is happening in these economies, which means that growth is in these markets. In effect, we in the West are experiencing decline.  Growth is not in our future, or, if it is, it is difficult to attain and sustain.

Although many elements in our societies are profiting from the changes in the global economy, this trend has left many people behind.  These are whom I term, the disenfranchised.  Their jobs have been exported, and in many countries, this group feels threatened by rising immigration. It resembles, in my opinion, the huge social and economic shifts that occurred during the Industrial Revolution.

When we look at the demographics of those who voted for Brexit, they are those who are not participating in, nor profiting from, the global economy. It reminds me as well of those supporting Donald Trump in this country. It is, for the most part, those who are not participating in the new world:  blue collar workers in Pittsburgh, where the steel industry has declined, coal miners in West Virginia, whose mines have closed down and who hear that global warming means we are searching for other sources of power.

The author, Frederick Forsyth, called the vote against the EU a ‘peasants’ revolt.’  He claimed that people rejected the advice of the experts and the elites.  That may be the case.  I reminds me of something I read and apologize for not referencing the quote: “. . .Populism loves simplicity, especially, it seems, when it’s dressed up with an impressively wacky hairdo.  Boris Johnson and Donald Trump appeal to the heart,not the head.  They offer simple solutions in a time of complex problems.  It’s an appealing message.  Think about the complicated consequences later, the thinking seems to go, for now protecting the status quo feels like a good start.”

If the saying, “all of us are smarter than one of us,” is to be believed, then the UK leaving the EU, where collective strength and power has achieved so much, may not be the best decision.

There is no doubt that Europe united is a better competitor in a global marketplace dominated by the US and China.

The times demand outstanding leadership on many levels:  in the UK, to transition from the EU to an independent entity, and in the EU, to lead the reform required to maintain unity.  Which brings us to the subject of leadership.  Where are the elites that are required to devise a transition strategy for the disenfranchised? To incorporate them into an economy where there is no coal mining and less industrial production?   What is the Vision of the future changed societies wish to create?  What are the leadership qualities and competencies needed in times of uncertainty?

My wish is that leaders (with wacky hairdo’s or not) can appeal to both the head and the heart. As Bill George writes, leaders need to discover their internal compass, their ‘True North’, and communicate to those who follow them.  I am waiting to hear what the ‘True North’ of both UK leaders and EC leaders is.  I imagine the disenfranchised are as well.

Overthrowing a Dominant Myth of Leadership and Developing Leadership in a Disruptive, Global Economy

Introduction

The initial words in the above title is the subject of 3sixtyglobal’s modest contribution to a Cross Cultural Management Summit held at the Florida Institute of Technology in February. The poster demonstrated that some leadership practices in other parts of the world are significantly different from those in the US. The data was generated by the Management Research Group and generously shared with me as one of their certified practitioners. It is a real eye-opener to see what the US considers desirable competencies on the part of its corporate leadership can extensively differ from those in other countries.

Below is the poster itself, although it may be difficult to read the text on this blog. The data charts, however, are visible and present a graphic demonstration of these differences.

There were others at the conference, the major presenters, including the cross cultural guru himself, Fons Trompenaars, who were emphatically putting forward the view that companies need to re-think who will lead them, how they do business, and how they will position emerging leaders in an age of disruption to the global economy. One thing was clear at the end of the 2 days, however. Because of the mega trends in the global economy, there is a critical need for cultural competencies on the part of organizational leaders.

What follows in this blog are some of the highlights of the business case which needs to be made for re-thinking developing global leadership. We will explore this in more depth (including citations in a forthcoming white paper, which will appear on our new website (www.3sixtyglobal.com) at the end of this month. For now, however, let’s look at the data and conclusions we took away from the conference and why this points to the necessity of including cultural intelligence for developing global level leaders.

Mega Trends

  • The focus of business growth is shifting from the developing countries in the West to the emerging economies, led by China and India. We, in the West, are in the slower growth markets, which has implications for competition and cooperation. Instead of Ford, think Hyundai, instead of Hewlett-Packard, think Lenovo.
  • From now until 2050, 80% of the world’s GDP growth will occur outside of Europe, the US, and Canada. By 2050, the number one economy in the world will be China, and the US will move to second place.
  • Population and urbanization: Were you aware that 90% of the world’s children under the age of 15 now live in the emerging economies? Our populations in the West are aging. Despite this trend, only a minority of leadership positions in major, global companies are held by men and women coming from the emerging economies.

The Business Imperative

The buzzword seems to be innovation and, concurrently, creativity. Neither result when the leaders look to tried and true solutions to problems. Instead of worrying about more efficient gasoline-driven engines on cars, entertain the disruptive notion of electric motors, shared transportation in urban areas (think Uber or Zipcar here), or technologically driven transportation. How do we make urban transportation more efficient, economical and convenient in such old systems that exist in cities like Boston or London?

Innovation and creativity require a diversity of thinking. Many cultures and ways of thinking are keys to both. This requires leaders and teams who are capable of influencing those who are different from themselves. Influencing others is a key leadership skill. A leader can have vision and be outstanding in communicating that vision to his or her followers, but without influence, execution fails. A team that cannot tolerate diverging opinions soon falls into groupthink.

Cultural Competence is a New Leadership Development Imperative

A 2012 report from the Corporate Leadership Council went so far as to cite statistics that demonstrated the likelihood of being a good or great global leader depended upon the mastery of intercultural skills. Other presenters at the conference cited a survey of HR leaders, 93% of whom claimed that leaders lost revenue for their companies due to the lack of intercultural skills and the words of Ernst and Young’s CEO who felt that success in new markets depended upon the ability of leaders to move across different cultures.

Very simply put, if current and future economic growth is occurring outside the comfort zones of Western cultures, are we as a society developing populations and leaders who know how to adapt to diverse ways of thinking and doing? Perhaps because we, in the West, have dominated the global economy for so long, it hasn’t been necessary to train leaders in cross cultural competencies or encourage them to become more cosmopolitan in outlook (which is expressed in the Thunderbird Global Mindset Inventory). This is no longer true today. The challenge to do so is before us.

A Question of Culture and a Woman’s Right to Paid Maternity Leave

“Vodafone Offers Equal Global Maternity Leave”

You may have missed this but Vodafone is offering all its female employees around the globe 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. Vodafone is a UK telecoms company, which is why the news went under the radar here in the US. The UK telecoms provider has 30 operating companies, world-wide.

In addition, it is offering new mothers full pay for working reduced 30 hour work weeks for the first 6 months upon return from maternity leave.

Whether or not this paid maternity is in addition to the statutory maternity leave is unclear. In many countries in Europe, law mandates paid maternity leave between 26 to 52 weeks a year. In contrast, there is no paid statutory leave in the US.

Earlier in the year I interviewed Purnima Mane, who is CEO of Pathfinder, International for the French American Chamber, (multi-cultural) Women in Business Network newsletter. One of the questions was, ‘what were the kind of changes she would like to see regarding the employment of women in the US?’

Her response is below and as you read it, keep in mind this is a woman who has worked on several Continents in her career, has a Ph D in public health, and worked at executive levels in the United Nations in both Geneva and New York, prior to coming to Boston.

I would like to see benefits that enable women to take up employment of their choice and develop their careers without having to worry about how they will manage to combine careers with their families. I see many young couples struggling to raise a child in this country because there is very limited, quality childcare that’s subsidized in some fashion so that they can afford it. Maternity leave is not a right in many places such that it will allow women [and men] to exercise their right to have a child and to leave temporarily if they wish and re-enter the workforce more easily. Hardly any part time employment opportunities with adequate benefits exist for women and men who wish to avail of them temporarily or permanently. I’ve grown up with these facilities and I have benefited from these in India. I find it shocking and disgraceful that it does not exist across the board in the U.S. Child care and flexible work arrangements are a must for men and women today along with maternity and paternity leave. Yes, it does bother me that there are less women at the top and that there are some jobs where there are more men than women but change is coming in even if gradually. On the other hand, I’m seeing much less change on policies which would have a wider impact on enhancing women’s employment, on encouraging men to be involved fathers playing gender equitable roles, and on getting more women and men to want to encourage women’s participation in the work force.

Does Culture Have Something to do With This?

When writing about culture here, I am referring to the descriptions of cultural differences based on the research of, principally, Fons Trompenaars and Geert Hofstede. Both from The Netherlands, their research outlined quite a few values, which separate one culture from another.

In the US we are principally a ‘masculine’ culture (Hofstede) and highly individualist (Hofstede and Trompenaars). The impact of these values drive behaviors which are associated with a high achievement orientation and competitiveness. It is no wonder that even Sheryl Sandberg described herself as a Type A Personality, who, during her maternity leaves worried someone else was going to step up to the plate and take her job unless she kept involved.

The contrast is to those cultures which are more ‘feminine’ (caring and nurturing, cooperative in orientation) and also collective. It seems that these cultures and countries provide their citizens with higher levels of social protection. Having paid maternity and even paternity leaves appears to be a better way to manage their societies.

A second point, which refers back to Vodafone’s decision to offer all its female employees paid maternity leave, is that this was a business decision. A study commissioned with KPMG determined that even paying maternity leave would save the company $19 billion annually. Imagine, giving away money would actually save the company money!

Behind this decision was the fact that Vodafone was spending annually $47 billion to replace women that left the workforce after having a baby. It recognized that often women, talented and experienced at that, didn’t return to their careers because they were forced to choose between maintaining careers and caring for their babies. The impact on Vodafone was also felt at the level of leadership. While women accounted for 35% of Vodafone’s employees worldwide, only 21% made up the international senior leadership team.

What is important here is the bottom line basis of Vodafone’s decision. This is related, or so we argue here, to the cultural context surrounding doing business in the UK.

Vodafone’s decision regarding paid maternity leave might be considered self-serving. It is important, however, in the debate about legislating issues such as paid maternity leave and the minimum number of women on corporate boards. In countries with more masculine cultures and whose preference is more towards the individual than the collectivity, it may be more effective for companies themselves to assist women to break through the glass ceiling. Keeping women in the workplace because it makes economic sense to the company and designing policies which make that possible could be a better way to go in a country such as the US. Legislating social reforms may cause more backlash against women’s movement up the professional and corporate ladders.

Reforming the social policies regarding maternity leave, childcare, paternity rights, impossible work hours and excessive business travel that hold up the current ‘way things are done around here’ and guarantee male dominance, would liberalize structures and processes which force women to choose between babies and careers. Sandberg’s advice for women to ‘lean in’ and demand a place at the table won’t work where those systems and structures prevent the active participation of talented women.

Before we assertively demand legislation to advance the cause of women in boardrooms, let us consider the cultural context which surrounds such practices and decide if legislation makes the most sense, or not.

ONE OF THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATIONS TO CREATE A EUROPEAN MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

The design team, composed of consultant practitioners from the UK, France, Germany, and The Netherlands, were charged with the task of creating a leading edge, leadership and team program that took into account multiple factors: utilizing the business speciality of each country, working across borders on action learning projects on a real-time business issue, and managing cross cultural and virtual teams. The program would be delivered over the course of the year in each of the four countries. The participants were managers working across borders. The modular program also took into account the various disciplines of finance, international trade, manufacturing, and marketing.

The program was successfully designed and marketed to the Fortune 500 clients of each of the collaborators.

NORTH AMERICAN SALES TEAM LEARNS TO WORK WITH THEIR SWISS COUNTERPARTS

This Basel based company manufactured chemical additives for food processing. The sales team in the US and Canada were learning that business is not conducted the same way all over the world. They chafed at the headquarters’ leadership style and business processes, not to mention, the rhythms of the business day, holidays, and work schedules.

Although the familiar complaint of ‘why is it we who have to change?’ was heard, the sales team did buckle down to learn that cultural differences around relationships caused the tensions. Following Trompenaars’ cultural dimensions, the sales staff began to appreciate why differences exist and how they could change the way they were interacting with Basel. The result was that customers in the US and Canada were overall better served by the company.

AFTER A MERGER TURNING AROUND A DYSFUNCTIONAL R&D TEAM TO CREATE A SIGNIFICANT RESULT IN PROFIT

The newly created leadership team of Research and Development was dysfunctional, and, consequently, not performing in either area. There were numerous relationship conflicts and the team couldn’t agree on how to proceed with new product development and testing. The conflict situation was exacerbated by the fact that the German scientists (all members of this team were Ph D’s and some were, in addition, qualified MD’s and all were men) were operating under a Swiss manager.

In this instance, an intensive, individual coaching program was introduced to the group. This was followed by a team development workshop. The coaching program introduced the thinking differences among team members, thanks to the Herrmann Brain Dominance Inventory, so that individuals could understand that perceptions differ, depending on thinking styles. Communication and decision-making were also affected so that people began to see that others were not being difficult by design, but saw the world through different lenses. In addition, each scientist worked on developing their emotional intelligence and how their behavior impacted others in the team. This was reinforced with basic leadership practices (soft skills) such as giving and receiving feedback, keeping commitments, taking responsibility, and moving outside the comfort zone.

Once individuals were more capable of being members of a team and could listen and communicate respectfully with others, they came together for a team development workshop, where they worked on goals and strategies for the future.

After 2 years and for the first time in the company’s history, the Diagnostics Division outperformed the Pharmaceutical Division.