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Leadership development

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Fundamentally, management is about relationships between people. Therefore, there is rarely one correct or wrong answer to a management question. With a good leader, employees can be even better than they are alone. They create better results, more value and get more mental energy from their work. Here you will find inspiration for management development that provides energy and creates results.

Read the Danish version of the article here.

There is no no innovation without agility. I am not talking about agile methods, but agility as a mindset. When I started working with innovation back in 2008, innovation was nice to have. Today, most leaders confront a situation where innovation is need to have and many have experienced the difficulties actually turning innovation ideas and projects into business value and tangible results.

Learning to access more agility is the answer to several of the challenges that leaders confront in the face of everyday change, innovation, new technology and stress. You can try to work more agile, but if you do not increase your individual agility, it is difficult for your organisation to actually become agile.

You may be familiar with the leader who ended an otherwise successful project to minimise risks. This was simply because there were too many unknown factors which were too difficult to predict and too potentially challenging of an outcome to control. Perhaps, you have made a similar decision.

In a stable environment, this is definitely the right thing to do. This is the type of environment where you can anticipate customer behaviour 18 months or more ahead, where you are not in danger of being disrupted, where you are not threatened by stress or new technology, and where success is created by doing the same thing as usual. Yet, in a constantly changing and unpredictable environment, being agile is needed and necessary.

This article is about developing your agility and leadership.

Navigating uncertainty with coolness, keeping a calm mind, being fearless and dealing with any discomfort you experience – this is what it feels like to be agile. Lars van Hauen is Chief Innovation Officer of E.On. Denmark, a European energy company with 43,000 employees. As an innovation leader and officer, I consider Lars to be more agile and innovative than 95% of other leaders I know. With tips from Lars, I will share what it means to be agile and how to develop your agility and leadership.

Agility and leadership advice from the agile and innovation leader, Lars

Currently, I am preparing for a speaking tour this autumn in agility and leadership for Lederne, The Danish Management Association. I will use Lars as an example of an agile leader to illustrate some points on agility and leadership. On several occasions, I have noticed how unbiased Lars is. When I asked Lars for advice on he keeps an open mind, he told me, “Go to a rock concert! Or make sure you frequently get a new experience, expose yourselves to new impulses. I truly believe in this”.

Lars is right! Exposure to new things and new people enhances your emotional agility. Emotional agility is the ability to not react immediately to emotions, but instead to just observe them. This means taking time to understand the possible causes of emotions and using intention to decide how to manage them. Emotional agility is key to having an open mind. Spending time in unfamiliar situations, with new people, and in new places, will help you become more tolerant and accepting of your own discomfort. This increases the confidence in your ability to navigate ambiguous situations, which is something that is essential for innovative leaders. Fusing emotional agility and leadership will turn you into a better listener, strengthen your interpersonal skills as well as develop your empathy. Essentially, these traits will create a more flexible mind.

Thoughts for growth and the science behind this advice

In the Harvard Business Review, psychologist Todd D. Kashdan writes about the mental benefits of vacationing somewhere new. In a study conducted with 485 adults in the United States, Kashdan explains how exposure to foreign travel links to a greater ability to direct attention and energy. This is important because it helps people function efficiently in diverse situations and enables the appropriate use of verbal and nonverbal emotional signals. Visiting more countries (breadth) or experiencing immersion into local culture (depth) enhances these effects. These positive benefits also remained after the study subjects returned home.

So, when Lars and I recommend going to a rock concert or trying something you have never done before, you too will obtain some of the benefits described in this study. This will in turn enhance your own agility and leadership development.

Decrease bias and increase empathy

There are even more benefits to going somewhere new. When you move to a new city or travel somewhere foreign, your bias decreases and empathy increases. In the study mentioned before, those who had travelled abroad showed a greater ability to delay their judgment. They could look beyond the surface qualities of age, sex, race, or ethnicity. As a result, they became more capable of recognising whether another person’s actions mirrored deep-seated personality qualities or if it was situational factors influencing their behaviour. Researchers in China found similar results in a survey of 197 adults before and after travelling. The study reported that those who had travelled to multiple countries developed a greater tolerance and trust of strangers. This had a positive influence on their attitudes toward strangers as well as colleagues and friends back at home. Additionally, they became more appreciative of people with new knowledge, philosophies, and skills.

Learn more ways to decrease bias to help you make better decisions; It will transform the way you think about your own leadership.

Travel, rock concerts or something alike – agility and leadership growth

In other words, try new things! It doesn’t need to involve traveling somewhere foreign or going far away. Attending the upcoming Roskilde festival to listen to new bands you have never heard of might be a way to get a new perspective of the world. This is where Lars plans to be next. If you don’t want to venture too far out of your comfort zone, there are many other ways to explore and experience the world. I encourage you to visit somewhere new or listen to opinions outside of your own closest circles. You could also taste a new type of food or challenge your body with some physical activity. Curiosity for new adventures and a willingness to listen to perspectives which differ from your own will improve your agility and leadership. Stepping away from the familiar can actually expand your view.

Discover how you can strengthen your leadership.

Stay connected

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Decisions guided by bias affect your decisions

Many managers’ decisions are guided by bias. There are approximately 200 different types of bias. A bias is actually a mistaken decision. It is an automatic and unconscious mechanism that gets in your way of making clear decisions. We all have a different levels of bias and they are context-dependent. When dribbling a ball on a basketball court, it may be a kind of bias that affects your decision about where to move. For managers in sales meetings, you may have a bia that affects your choices and how you develop a  strategy. Your decisions are often consciously or unconsciously guided by bias, which can have positive and negative affects on your leadership and those around you. Read more to learn 7 ways you can make better decisions and minimise bias.

Josefine Campbells executive coaching can be offered for companies and individuals. Strategy, leadership and the manager’s personal strengths and challenges are largely linked. Therefore, management coaching is effective in creating results in the company.

I am very grateful for what I received, and it helped me to clarify the opportunities I have and how I really feel about them. It has helped me pursue some things with more focus and put others at a lower priority.

David Gram, Senior Innovation Director, LEGO Group

Read more references here. 

As Exec. Coach Josefine Campbell works on building on the strengths you already have. After a session, you should be more aware of your head and more equipped to handle the challenges you will face as a leader. Josefine Campbell practices a combination of pragmatic coaching and counseling combined with mental training and strategic thinking.

The session will always be adapted to you, your work and the challenges you face. You set the agenda, and we are therefore talking about what is yours. Josefine Campbell supports and challenges you in a safe and confidential space.

Executive Coaching approach

  • Starting from the challenges you have.
  • Practical approach to coaching so that you can get real results quickly and you can benefit from the coaching.
  • Coaching with expertise in innovation, management, business development, growth, balance and stress. That’s why you not only get coaching, but also expertise and advice.
  • Coaching is offered both online and offline, so we do not have to be in the same city to work together.

You are working. Time flies by and suddenly you discover that you are hungry. You have actually forgotten to eat. Sometimes it’s also like that with your breathing. You forget to breathe properly. There may be things that make your breathing tense. A tense leader, is not a good leader. It is important to pay attention to breathing deeply, which gives oxygen to the brain and makes your muscles relax. This little gadget from Spire helps remind me.