Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Keynote - Becoming a resonant leader

Becoming a resonant leader
This session featured Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee.

McKee started the session and gave us an overview of what it would take to become a resonant leader.

A strong beginning McKee stated that we are in the mist of the greatest change in human history.. with that she was referring to the changes to social structures and the dramatic changes to the economy and business world as we sat in conference. (the announcement of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers organisation). She said that there was an almost universal acceptance that the old models of leadership just don’t work anymore and we need to find and engage with new and appropriate strategies. She said that great leaders (resonant leaders) move us to change, that is they get us motivated, excited and engaged with change.

Curiously McKee turned the situation around pointing out that most stories about leaders are actually about the followers rather than the leaders themselves, this is certainly true for ‘natural leaders’ such as Mandella. McKee said that her research pointed to the fact that as leaders we have the power to touch and move people, that the wisdom of ‘resonant’ leadership lies within each of us..

McKee introduced the concept of ‘hope’ that hope was often a trigger for possibilities and that effective leaders inspire us to find meaning towards hope for the future. McKee explored the reality that resonant leadership may well be common sense but not common practice – that is we may know this but do not apply it. Mckee also introduce the concept of mindfulness – a subject and ‘competence’ that was introduced earlier by Ben Bryant. This may well be a concept that survives beyond the conference!

McKee set the scene for Richard Boyatzis. Boyatzis started his section with some rhetorical questions of the delegates… How can we tap into hope?, How can I manage the cycle of sacrifice and renewal? How can I become more resonate?

Boyatzis stated that his research into neurology suggested that as humans we are ‘wired for hope’ and that people like change… IF it is tied to hope and will make a positive difference to their lives. He highlighted a wide range of long term research looking at graduates and how they adapt to and accept change. Using Chaos based theory he suggested that for change to work it needs to be discontinuous. He used metaphor to explain that for many of us we will change when the reason is great enough and indeed as humans we find it difficult to cope with continuous change – but cope with and welcome ‘step change’.

Through a highly animated and engaging session Boyatzis explored the neurology of positive and negative ‘attractors’ factors which are important but which is more important is the ratio with which highly effective leaders use positive and negative factors. Leaders of effective teams were said to use positive to negative attractors a ratio of 3:1, however in time of stress these could be as much of 9:1 – a consistent factor in the identification of highly effective leaders.

He left us with the questions:
When you are on your way home, think about who's lists you are on? Are you on their positive or negative list?
Hoe can you ensure you use positive attractors more often?


At one point in the presentation the antivirus software notification 'popped' onto the screen - tech guys corrected this quickly without the presenter reacting in any way, sitting near some of us was an individual that had fallen asleep and was snoring loudly - a shame as this was one of the best sessions of the day - the snoring did have a number of us in giggles, I was sat next to a member of CIPD staff at the time and we did joke about putting a photo of the poor individual here on the blog - but that would not have been fair... would it?

Richard was one of the most engaging and inspirational speakers I have seen for some time – a natural and funny man that not only understood his material, but the audience. A natural motivator and story teller (not your usual American motivational superficial speaker) An academic that understands how to apply solutions in the real world.

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