An Overplayed Strength can become a Weakness

Three commonly overplayed approaches that might just be holding you back

In their seminal article in June 2009 Harvard Business Review, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman discussed their research into what they considered to be “Ten Fatal Flaws That Derail Leaders”. Their findings read like a menu of dysfunction and they summarise the article saying that a leader and their stakeholders often see that leader differently. The leader’s intention of how they will create impact manifests itself to those around them as something quite different.

Intent and impact

This last point is critical and is linked closely to much of the work Primeast has been doing over the last 30 years in the field of adult development. Through our own work developing leaders in arduous environments, to more recent interactions with thought leaders such as Bob Anderson, Bill Adams, Jennifer Garvey-Berger and Otto Scharmer, it’s apparent that there is frequently dissonance between an individual’s intent and their actual impact.

For leaders this is important as, no matter how laudable our intentions, it is how others experience them day in, day out that matters. Often the strategies and approaches you choose will have a positive effect, which encourages you to use them more frequently.

However, if you become too reliant on them, they begin to lead you. If left unchecked, they can lead you into potential danger.

Three strategies or approaches that are risk areas for leaders

Being a Strong Hand on the Wheel

Where it adds value for a leader – At its best this approach allows you to set high standards and strive for continuous improvement in a wide range of situations. Your willingness to take charge and speak your mind, if you believe things are even slightly out of control, can often make you influential too. You can deliver positive results.

How overreliance could hold you back – It can also encourage you to be overly aggressive and show little interest in others’ opinions. Potentially you feel that by accepting their view, you are somehow weakened and you’d be less ‘in control’. Often there is a strong urge to compete. seeing things as a zero-sum, win/lose game where demanding unreasonably high standards of yourself, and others, is an attempt to control that game. Burnout beckons.

Leveraging your Intellect & Knowledge

Where it adds value for a leader – At its best this approach enables you to be objective and enhances your ability to consider wider perspectives or ways of doing things. It can help you with cutting through complexity and identifying root cause to solve problems. It provides opportunities to use your wisdom, perhaps drawn from high levels of expertise and knowledge, or an affinity with a particular school of thought.

How overreliance could hold you back – At the core of this characteristic is the need for you to ‘protect’ yourself through your superior knowledge, critical thinking and knowing the ‘right’ answer. It may often lead you to judge others harshly in a cold, aloof, distanced way, leaving them feeling unvalued and under supported.

Being part of the Gang

Where it adds value for a leader – At its best this approach allows you to sense others’ needs and emotions; and to be responsive to them. You show up as a loyal, reliable colleague who is easy to get along with and who values the various rituals of your relationships. You are a nice person and a good contributor to team.

How overreliance could hold you back – You can become subsumed by the group or those around you, as your primary driver is to fit in. Acting this way can lead you into denying your own independence, aspirations and freedom of expression. You may be plagued by self-doubt and be overly cautious in your decision-making for fear of what others might do or say about you. You can often come across as non-assertive or passive too.

Recognise any of this in yourself, or your peers? Do not panic! Primeast works with leaders at all levels to understand their inner operating system and improve their impact.

If you are interested in transforming your leadership capability, talk to us about our Leadership Circle™ Impact Programme. We have a number of accredited Leadership Circle Profile™ facilitators around the world who work with individuals and groups of leaders to uncover insights and opportunities to sharpen skills and improve leadership behaviors.

You can email Russell Evans here or call +44 (0) 1423 531083.

Further reading: ‘The 5 Creative Competencies you need to Succeed’ and ’10 Critical Soft Skills Needed for Developing Leaders’

Visit our Prime Leadership and Scaling Talent pages for how Primeast can support you and your organization to create outstanding leaders who are equipped to successfully lead organizations where people can thrive.

Emotional Intelligence in the Pharma Industry

Emotional intelligence has an important role to play in business. It enables individuals to better read, understand and contextualise the actions of others, both in terms of personal relationships and the wider organization.

It helps individuals to understand the impact of their own actions and choose the most effective response. However, in highly regulated industries, emotional intelligence and other ‘soft skills’ are often overlooked. This is because the intense focus on results means that leaders often ignore the ‘how’ part of the journey.

The pharmaceutical industry is one example where emotional intelligence can be better developed to improve individual, team and project performance.

Understanding emotional intelligence

The definition of emotional intelligence has evolved over the years but now the general understanding of the concept is that it refers to how people process and respond to emotional information. John D Mayer and David Caruso explained in ‘The effective leader: Understanding and applying emotional intelligence’ that it encompasses how people comprehend and use emotional information about social relationships.

“The terms-emotion and intelligence have specific, generally agreed upon scientific meanings that indicate the possible ways they can be used together,” Mayer and Caruso wrote. “Emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear refer to feelings that signal information about relationships. For example, happiness signals harmonious relationships, whereas fear signals being threatened. Intelligence refers to the capacity to carry out abstract reasoning, recognize patterns, and compare and contrast. Emotional intelligence, then, refers to the capacity to understand and explain emotions, on the one hand, and of emotions to enhance thought, on the other.”

In his book ‘Emotional intelligence’, David Goleman claims emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of emotions and regulate them. He says ‘personal competence’ is being aware and regulating one’s own emotions, while ‘social competence’ is awareness and regulation of the emotions of others – skills that have clear applications for leaders.

So what does this mean for the workplace?

Ultimately if all stakeholders can properly understand, process and regulate emotional information they are better placed to understand colleagues and respond in an appropriate and constructive way. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, entitled ‘Building the emotional intelligence of groups’, Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B Wolff explained that this is crucial for the successful formation of teams that can perform. They claim that a team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms in order to be effective. This refers to the attitudes and behaviors that become habits. These norms have to help build trust, group identity and performance. Druskat and Wolff say this will result in complete engagement with tasks.

The opportunities for developing Emotional intelligence in Pharma

Research suggests that many pharmaceutical companies may be lacking when it comes to emotional intelligence. The Center for Creative Leadership found in ‘The leadership challenge in the pharmaceutical sector’ report that pharma leaders were rated lowest by their employees when it came to confronting problem members of staff. What’s more, leading employees were given the second lowest score.

These problems often occur when professionals are directive in their style and unable to read situations in order to flex their style to meet the situation or communicate and respond in the right way. This impacts upon teams and can prevent them performing due to a lack of alignment with purpose and distrust of stakeholders.

To turn this around, pharmaceutical companies need to work on developing a full range of leadership skills utilising the benefits of emotional intelligence. Part of this is done during the formation of teams, as this is where individuals get to know each other and establish accepted behaviors.

Pay attention to how teams form from the beginning, or when there is a change

At Primeast we recognize the four key stages to creating a team, as identified by Bruce Tuckman, researcher in organizational behavior and leader in the theory of group dynamics: forming, storming, norming and performing.

Forming allows team members to learn what they need from each other and establish the rules of engagement. It is in this stage that emotional intelligence can really come into its own. Team members should be encouraged to communicate and learn how other’s work. Being vulnerable and admitting weaknesses straight from the off will help to build trust.

We can then test boundaries during the storming stage, where a team member pushes the limits of what is and what is not allowed. By embracing conflict during this phase, individuals can learn how best to respond to certain situations and what not to do to avoid certain emotions and conflict.

If these stages have been done properly, teams can norm – fit into a normal way of working – and then perform – where the team has a clear shared vision and sense of teamwork to get on with the job and excel at what they do.

By supporting the development of emotional intelligence in this way, all organizations – not just in the pharmaceutical sector – are able to build better teams and more effective leaders. That’s a win-win situation for everyone.

If you would like to find out more about how Primeast could support your organization, email [email protected] to arrange a call with one of our consultants. To find out more about Primeast global services visit our ‘What we do’ pages here.

Stages of Adult Development

I recently interviewed my colleague, Gary Edwards, a Primeast founding director and Client Partner with 30 years experience designing and running development programs around the world. I wanted to share his thoughts on the stages of adult development as described by many thought leaders, including Robert Kegan and Jennifer Garvey Berger as shown below.

Stages of Adult Development

Stage 1: Impulsive mind – early childhood

Stage 2: Imperial mind – adolescence, 6% of adult population

Stage 3: Socialised mind – 58% of the adult population

Stage 4: Self-Authoring mind – 35% of the adult population

Stage 5: Self-Transforming mind – 1% of the adult population

Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey – Immunity to Change

I want to focus on some of the thoughts triggered by our conversation – especially with regard to the practical implications for Purposeful Leadership. I started by asking Gary to share his own life experiences that may have contributed to profound personal development.

He talked about travel, adventure, being involved in expeditions with Operation Raleigh, his involvement as a scout leader, a rugby coach and working with big corporates around the world as a Primeast facilitator. It is clear these experiences with people from different backgrounds, cultures and sectors gave Gary a broad outlook on the world.

Experiences drive our purpose

Totally unprompted, Gary explained that this context contributed in no small way to his personal purpose of “helping people expand their skills and self-confidence in order to make a bigger difference”. Anyone working closely with Gary, as I have for about twenty years, would witness this playing out in all aspects of his life – at work, at home and in the community.

Higher doesn’t always mean better

Gary explained the difference between progressing through the stages in adult development (or mindset) often described as “vertical development” and the accumulation of new skills, “horizontal development” but he also cautions on thinking that in “vertical development” higher is in any way better.

We develop according to our context and the needs of the moment. He also affirms the importance of self-reflection to appraise where we are on our journey and how we are responding to life’s challenges. This is one of the key features of progressing beyond the socialised mind – Stage 3.

As we move to self-authoring, we develop the ability to examine ourselves objectively and change in order to be more effective and more resilient – as opposed to just going with the flow of society. We are also no longer at the mercy of past ‘programming’ and the scripts we inherited from our ancestors.

In self-transforming – Stage 5 – we are also choosing how we see our world and our place, alongside others, in its evolution. Gary’s personal journey has clearly supported his ability to do this.

Who we think we are and how we see our world

My hypothesis for Purposeful Leadership is that our purpose comes from the energetic reaction between who we think we are and how we choose to see the world. And progression through the stages of adult development is a great facilitator of purposeful leadership, giving us choice regarding our contribution as part of humanity – and our ability to take others on the journey with us.

Reactive and Creative leadership

There is a further link to the work of Bob Anderson and Bill Adams as documented in their wonderful book “Scaling Leadership”. In explaining how leaders can develop the capacity to lead “at scale”, Anderson and Adams draw a fundamental distinction between “reactive” and “creative” leadership. As the label suggests, creative leadership is more about considered behavior and less about being impulsive. See The 5 creative competencies you need to succeed.

I like the way Otto Scharmer describes the sort of listening required for transformational leadership. He uses the term “generative” listening – being open to new ideas, the feelings of others and conscious of a wider system, within which a new future is emerging.

Anderson and Adams have usefully given us a method for measuring a leader’s creative capability and mapping against their reactive tendencies. The method is well researched, taking account of the thought leaders previously mentioned.

Creative leadership is proven to correlate to improved leadership performance and is a key methodology in Primeast’s Prime Leadership development portfolio .

With all the above in mind, I invite you to be inspired by Gary’s narrative which you can watch here. I personally found it helpful to listen a second time and then to pause for personal reflection.

Personal reflection

I found myself asking, and answering, the following questions and invite you to do the same:

  1. What are the personal experiences that provided the greatest growth for you?
  2. To what extent was each one purposefully chosen by you or simply a quirk of fate?
  3. How did these experiences affect your world view?
  4. How did these experiences affect your sense of who you are?
  5. Considering your sense of who you are today and how you now see the world, what personal purpose(s) emerge for you?
  6. What plans do you have to create further opportunities for your personal development?

As a leader, make a list of some of the key people you lead. How can you create, facilitate or encourage opportunities for their growth?

First published by Clive on LinkedIn in Nov 2020.

Further resources

For anyone new to the concept of adult development as expressed by these thought leaders, you may enjoy this podcast from Robert Kegan: The Five Stages of Adult Development and Why You Probably Aren’t at Stage 5.

Jennifer Garvey Berger’s video Adult Development Map.

For resources to share, read Understanding your Purpose and Why it Matters by Sarah Cave.

You can go straight into our virtual workshop Understanding your Purpose, to start your journey of self-discovery.

Start with a short Leadership Challenge Assessment.

Begin a conversation about your leadership development or development opportunities for your organization, you can email Clive Wilson here. Or call us on +44 (0) 1423 531083.

An Overplayed Strength can become a Weakness

Three commonly overplayed approaches that might just be holding you back

In their seminal article in June 2009 Harvard Business Review, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman discussed their research into what they considered to be “Ten Fatal Flaws That Derail Leaders”. Their findings read like a menu of dysfunction and they summarise the article saying that a leader and their stakeholders often see that leader differently. The leader’s intention of how they will create impact manifests itself to those around them as something quite different.

Intent and impact

This last point is critical and is linked closely to much of the work Primeast has been doing over the last 30 years in the field of adult development. Through our own work developing leaders in arduous environments, to more recent interactions with thought leaders such as Bob Anderson, Bill Adams, Jennifer Garvey-Berger and Otto Scharmer, it’s apparent that there is frequently dissonance between an individual’s intent and their actual impact.

For leaders this is important as, no matter how laudable our intentions, it is how others experience them day in, day out that matters. Often the strategies and approaches you choose will have a positive effect, which encourages you to use them more frequently.

However, if you become too reliant on them, they begin to lead you. If left unchecked, they can lead you into potential danger.

Three strategies or approaches that are risk areas for leaders

Being a Strong Hand on the Wheel

Where it adds value for a leader – At its best this approach allows you to set high standards and strive for continuous improvement in a wide range of situations. Your willingness to take charge and speak your mind, if you believe things are even slightly out of control, can often make you influential too. You can deliver positive results.

How overreliance could hold you back – It can also encourage you to be overly aggressive and show little interest in others’ opinions. Potentially you feel that by accepting their view, you are somehow weakened and you’d be less ‘in control’. Often there is a strong urge to compete. seeing things as a zero-sum, win/lose game where demanding unreasonably high standards of yourself, and others, is an attempt to control that game. Burnout beckons.

Leveraging your Intellect & Knowledge

Where it adds value for a leader – At its best this approach enables you to be objective and enhances your ability to consider wider perspectives or ways of doing things. It can help you with cutting through complexity and identifying root cause to solve problems. It provides opportunities to use your wisdom, perhaps drawn from high levels of expertise and knowledge, or an affinity with a particular school of thought.

How overreliance could hold you back – At the core of this characteristic is the need for you to ‘protect’ yourself through your superior knowledge, critical thinking and knowing the ‘right’ answer. It may often lead you to judge others harshly in a cold, aloof, distanced way, leaving them feeling unvalued and under supported.

Being part of the Gang

Where it adds value for a leader – At its best this approach allows you to sense others’ needs and emotions; and to be responsive to them. You show up as a loyal, reliable colleague who is easy to get along with and who values the various rituals of your relationships. You are a nice person and a good contributor to team.

How overreliance could hold you back – You can become subsumed by the group or those around you, as your primary driver is to fit in. Acting this way can lead you into denying your own independence, aspirations and freedom of expression. You may be plagued by self-doubt and be overly cautious in your decision-making for fear of what others might do or say about you. You can often come across as non-assertive or passive too.

Recognise any of this in yourself, or your peers? Do not panic! Primeast works with leaders at all levels to understand their inner operating system and improve their impact.

If you are interested in transforming your leadership capability, talk to us about our Leadership Circle™ Impact Programme. We have a number of accredited Leadership Circle Profile™ facilitators around the world who work with individuals and groups of leaders to uncover insights and opportunities to sharpen skills and improve leadership behaviours.

You can email Russell Evans here or call +44 (0) 1423 531083.

Further reading: ‘The 5 Creative Competencies you need to Succeed’ and ’10 Critical Soft Skills Needed for Developing Leaders’

Visit our Prime Leadership and Scaling Talent pages for how Primeast can support you and your organisation to create outstanding leaders who are equipped to successfully lead organisations where people can thrive.

Emotional Intelligence in the Pharma Industry

Emotional intelligence has an important role to play in business. It enables individuals to better read, understand and contextualise the actions of others, both in terms of personal relationships and the wider organisation.

It helps individuals to understand the impact of their own actions and choose the most effective response. However, in highly regulated industries, emotional intelligence and other ‘soft skills’ are often overlooked. This is because the intense focus on results means that leaders often ignore the ‘how’ part of the journey.

The pharmaceutical industry is one example where emotional intelligence can be better developed to improve individual, team and project performance.

Understanding emotional intelligence

The definition of emotional intelligence has evolved over the years but now the general understanding of the concept is that it refers to how people process and respond to emotional information. John D Mayer and David Caruso explained in ‘The effective leader: Understanding and applying emotional intelligence’ that it encompasses how people comprehend and use emotional information about social relationships.

“The terms-emotion and intelligence have specific, generally agreed upon scientific meanings that indicate the possible ways they can be used together,” Mayer and Caruso wrote. “Emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear refer to feelings that signal information about relationships. For example, happiness signals harmonious relationships, whereas fear signals being threatened. Intelligence refers to the capacity to carry out abstract reasoning, recognise patterns, and compare and contrast. Emotional intelligence, then, refers to the capacity to understand and explain emotions, on the one hand, and of emotions to enhance thought, on the other.”

In his book ‘Emotional intelligence’, David Goleman claims emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of emotions and regulate them. He says ‘personal competence’ is being aware and regulating one’s own emotions, while ‘social competence’ is awareness and regulation of the emotions of others – skills that have clear applications for leaders.

So what does this mean for the workplace?

Ultimately if all stakeholders can properly understand, process and regulate emotional information they are better placed to understand colleagues and respond in an appropriate and constructive way. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, entitled ‘Building the emotional intelligence of groups’, Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B Wolff explained that this is crucial for the successful formation of teams that can perform. They claim that a team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms in order to be effective. This refers to the attitudes and behaviours that become habits. These norms have to help build trust, group identity and performance. Druskat and Wolff say this will result in complete engagement with tasks.

The opportunities for developing Emotional intelligence in Pharma

Research suggests that many pharmaceutical companies may be lacking when it comes to emotional intelligence. The Center for Creative Leadership found in ‘The leadership challenge in the pharmaceutical sector’ report that pharma leaders were rated lowest by their employees when it came to confronting problem members of staff. What’s more, leading employees were given the second lowest score.

These problems often occur when professionals are directive in their style and unable to read situations in order to flex their style to meet the situation or communicate and respond in the right way. This impacts upon teams and can prevent them performing due to a lack of alignment with purpose and distrust of stakeholders.

To turn this around, pharmaceutical companies need to work on developing a full range of leadership skills utilising the benefits of emotional intelligence. Part of this is done during the formation of teams, as this is where individuals get to know each other and establish accepted behaviours.

Pay attention to how teams form from the beginning, or when there is a change

At Primeast we recognise the four key stages to creating a team, as identified by Bruce Tuckman, researcher in organisational behaviour and leader in the theory of group dynamics: forming, storming, norming and performing.

Forming allows team members to learn what they need from each other and establish the rules of engagement. It is in this stage that emotional intelligence can really come into its own. Team members should be encouraged to communicate and learn how other’s work. Being vulnerable and admitting weaknesses straight from the off will help to build trust.

We can then test boundaries during the storming stage, where a team member pushes the limits of what is and what is not allowed. By embracing conflict during this phase, individuals can learn how best to respond to certain situations and what not to do to avoid certain emotions and conflict.

If these stages have been done properly, teams can norm – fit into a normal way of working – and then perform – where the team has a clear shared vision and sense of teamwork to get on with the job and excel at what they do.

By supporting the development of emotional intelligence in this way, all organisations – not just in the pharmaceutical sector – are able to build better teams and more effective leaders. That’s a win-win situation for everyone.

If you would like to find out more about how Primeast could support your organisation, email [email protected] to arrange a call with one of our consultants. To find out more about Primeast global services visit our ‘What we do’ pages here.

Stages of Adult Development

I recently interviewed my colleague, Gary Edwards, a Primeast founding director and Client Partner with 30 years experience designing and running development programmes around the world. I wanted to share his thoughts on the stages of adult development as described by many thought leaders, including Robert Kegan and Jennifer Garvey Berger as shown below.

Stages of Adult Development

Stage 1: Impulsive mind – early childhood

Stage 2: Imperial mind – adolescence, 6% of adult population

Stage 3: Socialised mind – 58% of the adult population

Stage 4: Self-Authoring mind – 35% of the adult population

Stage 5: Self-Transforming mind – 1% of the adult population

Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey – Immunity to Change

I want to focus on some of the thoughts triggered by our conversation – especially with regard to the practical implications for Purposeful Leadership. I started by asking Gary to share his own life experiences that may have contributed to profound personal development.

He talked about travel, adventure, being involved in expeditions with Operation Raleigh, his involvement as a scout leader, a rugby coach and working with big corporates around the world as a Primeast facilitator. It is clear these experiences with people from different backgrounds, cultures and sectors gave Gary a broad outlook on the world.

Experiences drive our purpose

Totally unprompted, Gary explained that this context contributed in no small way to his personal purpose of “helping people expand their skills and self-confidence in order to make a bigger difference”. Anyone working closely with Gary, as I have for about twenty years, would witness this playing out in all aspects of his life – at work, at home and in the community.

Higher doesn’t always mean better

Gary explained the difference between progressing through the stages in adult development (or mindset) often described as “vertical development” and the accumulation of new skills, “horizontal development” but he also cautions on thinking that in “vertical development” higher is in any way better.

We develop according to our context and the needs of the moment. He also affirms the importance of self-reflection to appraise where we are on our journey and how we are responding to life’s challenges. This is one of the key features of progressing beyond the socialised mind – Stage 3.

As we move to self-authoring, we develop the ability to examine ourselves objectively and change in order to be more effective and more resilient – as opposed to just going with the flow of society. We are also no longer at the mercy of past ‘programming’ and the scripts we inherited from our ancestors.

In self-transforming – Stage 5 – we are also choosing how we see our world and our place, alongside others, in its evolution. Gary’s personal journey has clearly supported his ability to do this.

Who we think we are and how we see our world

My hypothesis for Purposeful Leadership is that our purpose comes from the energetic reaction between who we think we are and how we choose to see the world. And progression through the stages of adult development is a great facilitator of purposeful leadership, giving us choice regarding our contribution as part of humanity – and our ability to take others on the journey with us.

Reactive and Creative leadership

There is a further link to the work of Bob Anderson and Bill Adams as documented in their wonderful book “Scaling Leadership”. In explaining how leaders can develop the capacity to lead “at scale”, Anderson and Adams draw a fundamental distinction between “reactive” and “creative” leadership. As the label suggests, creative leadership is more about considered behaviour and less about being impulsive. See The 5 creative competencies you need to succeed.

I like the way Otto Scharmer describes the sort of listening required for transformational leadership. He uses the term “generative” listening – being open to new ideas, the feelings of others and conscious of a wider system, within which a new future is emerging.

Anderson and Adams have usefully given us a method for measuring a leader’s creative capability and mapping against their reactive tendencies. The method is well researched, taking account of the thought leaders previously mentioned.

Creative leadership is proven to correlate to improved leadership performance and is a key methodology in Primeast’s Prime Leadership development portfolio .

With all the above in mind, I invite you to be inspired by Gary’s narrative which you can watch here. I personally found it helpful to listen a second time and then to pause for personal reflection.

Personal reflection

I found myself asking, and answering, the following questions and invite you to do the same:

  1. What are the personal experiences that provided the greatest growth for you?
  2. To what extent was each one purposefully chosen by you or simply a quirk of fate?
  3. How did these experiences affect your world view?
  4. How did these experiences affect your sense of who you are?
  5. Considering your sense of who you are today and how you now see the world, what personal purpose(s) emerge for you?
  6. What plans do you have to create further opportunities for your personal development?

As a leader, make a list of some of the key people you lead. How can you create, facilitate or encourage opportunities for their growth?

First published by Clive on LinkedIn in Nov 2020.

Further resources

For anyone new to the concept of adult development as expressed by these thought leaders, you may enjoy this podcast from Robert Kegan: The Five Stages of Adult Development and Why You Probably Aren’t at Stage 5.

Jennifer Garvey Berger’s video Adult Development Map.

For resources to share, read Understanding your Purpose and Why it Matters by Sarah Cave.

You can go straight into our virtual workshop Understanding your Purpose, to start your journey of self-discovery.

Start with a short Leadership Challenge Assessment.

Begin a conversation about your leadership development or development opportunities for your organisation, you can email Clive Wilson here. Or call us on +44 (0) 1423 531083.