Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Leading through turbulence

Masterclass - The power of courageous leaders,

Noel Hadden from Deusche Bank opened the session and set the scene, I almost wished Noel had the session to himself.. he was engaging and humorous in his positioning of the session, it was a particularly difficult introduction for him as his very sector is under the worlds spotlights in terms of what is happening in the investment banking sector. By far the bets and most engaging introduction of any session so far.

This session was led by creator of Ming Gym Octavius Black.

Black started the session again by putting into context the challenges that are being faced by our organisations on an almost daily basis. He posed the statement - "we know the economy is in a mess, that is not the question.. what is the question is How bad is it?"

This is very much a theme running throughout all of the sessions I have attended, an indicator of just how quick and deep we are being affected by current changes.

Black did a quick poll of the audience and of the 400 people in the room only 19 had been managers in 1980 - the last time we were managing a time when it was not consistent growth. This clearly demonstrated that we do not have the experience or resilience within management or HR and need to learn to adapt quickly.

After a flurry of examples of how psychology at a micro level can impact individual and organisation performance. Black cited research and activities that he and his associates and colleagues in the world of psychology have been doing to look at effective leadership, particularly through turbulent times. He highlighted a model he uses which is called the seven heads model. This looks at seven factors:

  • Authenticity
  • Bravery
  • Hope
  • Vitality
  • Humility
  • Curiosity
  • Persistence

Black then went through each of these giving some details as to what each of these factors meant.


Throughout the session Black attempted several interactive exercises, sure these were of some value but each could have been provided in the handouts to undertake later - this was a masterclass not a workshop after all. Throughout the pair work (and a simple psychometric style instrument) Black paced the environment 'checking' that individuals understood the task and were making progress. This would have been fine for 30-40 people - but in my opinion was not particularly effective for a group of this size. Black quoted lots of names of psychologists and books, however often too fast for people to take note and not referenced in the presentation notes in context - although to be fair there is a list of books Black has provided for recommend reading.

I have seen Black before and this was not his best performance, I had the feeling he was attempting to cover too much for the allocated time. However some interesting points for delegates, including references to the 'leaders behaviour' 'hope' has been a regular feature of other presenters this week.

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