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Is 'Mindfulness' the new black?

It’s fair to say that the popularity of ‘Mindfulness’ has gathered considerable pace in the last couple of years. In fact it’s hard to move these days for Mindfulness articles, guides, books and discussions. 

However, with this rise in popularity comes a danger that some of the fundamentally sound (and ancient) principles and practices of ‘being in the moment’ (either in traditional/formal meditation or by means of an approach/state of mind) become less clear, or diluted in their value. This is something that Oliver Burkeman tackles in a recent article in the Guardian - and is well worth a read.  

Within organisations there is some great work being done to integrate Mindfulness in to wider employee well-being programmes, as well as in day-to-day practices to reduce stress, improve communication and ultimately improve productivity.  There’s also plenty of evidence and articles to suggest that the proliferation of technology and communication places considerable challenges on our ability to ‘focus’ - and this is an issue that’s here to stay - hence why ‘mindful working’ is required.. 

Linked to this is some of the ground-breaking research that’s being done to understand Mindfulness in tangible business terms.  Of note is the amazing work by Cranfield University, which recently hosted the sell-out ‘Mindfulness at Work Conference’ in 2014. Here’s hoping they run another one in 2016.

If you can find your way through all the bells and whistles, it’s still a subject and ‘approach’ that merits our time and energy either to explore for yourself or your organisation - just don’t believe all the hype!

Leadership over Christmas

How well leaders cope and deal with holidays is often a telling indicator of wider well-being and delegation issues, as many surveys tell us. As we fast approach Christmas a few questions spring to mind:

-As a leader how well do you set an example by drawing a clear line between work and home/holiday time?

-Do you manage expectations placed on you or your team around deadlines?

-Do you find it easy to delegate well when you’re about to go on holiday, or do you prefer to keep control (and work during your time off)?

- What worries you most about taking holiday?

No definitive ‘right’ answers to the above questions, but we’d be interested to know your thoughts…..and in the meantime, have a great Christmas!



ABP discussion: Recruiting and developing the best leaders

At today’s regular meeting of the south-west division of the Association for Buisness Psychology (ABP) we discussed the challenges leaders face in ‘non-standard hierarchical organisations’ such as matrix structures, voluntary organisations, and co-operatives.

The general consensus was that effective leaders in these types of structures/organisations need to have highly sophisticated skills to be able to manage relationships and successfully motivate their teams/volunteers - in the absence of more ‘traditional’ hierarchy and obligations. French and Raven’s seminal research on the bases of power provides a useful perspective on just this.

Furthermore employee engagement is absolutely critical to success.

Leadership summits that work

This is an interesting article and debate started by Harvard Business Review. For today’s time poor organisations and leaders, what makes for an effective summit? Is there a ‘magic formula’ or is it sometimes that these large, high-profile sessions need to move with the times and continually evolve the format? It would be interesting to get a UK perespective.

In reading the article and ensuing debate, there are also some interesting parallels to be made to effective leadership training. Although the objectives are perhaps slightly different, the underlying principles are the same. To make sure leadership training (at all levels) delivers results, clarification of objectives, engagement, interaction, flexibility and follow-up are critical. Delivering the training in a relevant and time efficient way is also key.

Leadership skills in times of change

Yesterday we went to the HR Change and Transformation Conference in London. Despite the diverse mix of organisations that were there, a common issue emerged – that the rate and pace of change in organisations is only set to increase.  Not particularly ground breaking or even new news to many. But what did become clear from a few of the sessions is the shift in how organisations are starting to encourage, recognise and develop leaders. 

One striking case study outlined how long-standing leadership capabilities were ‘suddenly’ rewritten to place much greater emphasis on skills and attributes that drive and support change.  Another company spoke of renewed interest in the positive culture leaders help shape through creative thinking and innovation – with recognition systems heavily weighted towards these skills.

We have noticed that as a result of these changes, over-time, the focus and outcomes for some of our leadership and graduate programmes have subtly shifted.  For example one of our clients identified a genuine business and strategic need for ‘key talent’ to instil a dynamic and versatile mind set and more overtly drive culture change. They recognised that without this, the organisation would lose out to aggressive competition in the near future.  So we are currently reworking our development programme to not only deliver against this need, but support our L&D client in evaluating its success.   

Watch this space for the results!