• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Winning in Turbulent Times

Winning in Turbulent Times

Roger Delves, an Oxford trained professor, became a Board leader at age 30 and has helped hundreds of organisations to optimise their leadership quotient. He will be among the four faculty delivering the TEXEM hybrid programme Effective Leadership In a Distributed World: Pioneering Enduring Legacies. Other faculty members include Sir James Duddridge, MP, Ambassador Charles Crawford and Professor Paul Griffith (the World’s first Professor of Management to lead a team to launch a rocket into space). In this interview, Professor Roger Delves share insights on how leaders can win in these turbulent times.

As part of TEXEM’s hybrid Effective Leadership In A Distributed World: Pioneering Enduring Legacies, you will be one of the four faculty. The question is, how can building trust remotely impact the dynamics within an organisation, particularly in diverse settings like Nigeria? Building trust remotely takes longer than building trust in a live environment, and it is more difficult and takes longer to build the concept we call psychological safety. Trust can only be built successfully with psychological safety being present. So, if your organisation consists of remote teams, or a mix of live and remote teams, or a mix of hybrid, remote and live teams, Nigerian leaders must make stringent efforts with each individual in each team, regardless of the nature of the team. To generate and maintain this sense of psychological safety. How can they do this? For example, having conversations with individuals within which the individual and the leader share personal information helps create this sense of safety and trust. This information will include things like their sense of purpose around their work, their sense of personal values, and their sense of personal ambition for the team, the organisation and themselves. They also share information about what they hope for the country in a wider geo-political or geo-economical way. This sharing helps each party, leader, and team member get a sense of the authentic self within the other individual. It is this authentic self that the individual comes to trust and to feel safe with. Both/all parties involved must be prepared to commit time and emotional energy to the exercise. This time commitment is not insignificant, and of course, this exercise is significantly less straightforward with virtual team members than it is with team members who are encountered in a live environment. Team leaders need to set aside time to meet virtually with team members on several occasions to build trust and safety and then maintain these levels through regular trust after that. There is no easy alternative to this commitment of time because if the time is not committed, the necessary levels of safety will not be created, and therefore, the required levels of trust will not be built. This will lead to a barrier to genuine high performance being created within a team. Executives should attend the forthcoming TEXEM hybrid programme to glean more insights into how to build better alignment and consensus, improve their relationships with diverse stakeholders, enhance their individual and organisational resilience, enshrine better adaptability and innovation and win. This TEXEM programme is particularly critical, especially at these challenging times of high inflation, where diverse stakeholders need to explore hybrid work to get by.

One of the goals of this TEXEM programme is to equip leaders and their organisations with the core competence and capability to unlock scarce value for the organisation and their stakeholders. So, how does emotional quotient play a role in engaging diverse stakeholders virtually, and how can executives harness this understanding to drive success? Emotional Quotient (EQ), or emotional intelligence, describes how we deal with our own emotions and manage our emotional relationships with others. Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist and researcher, coined the term EQ and has researched and written widely on this subject. He created a well-known model of Emotional Intelligence. Within this EQ model, there are four competencies. Two inward-looking competencies help us understand and govern our own emotions. These are termed Self-awareness and Self-Management. If we develop the skills and behaviours related to these competencies, we will be able to understand and control our emotions. This will help us engage diverse stakeholders virtually because, for example, we can control our impatience in the face of a stakeholder’s slowness to embrace our opinion or our anger in the face of a stakeholder’s opposition to our plans. By diligent management of our own emotions, we can also become better influencers and persuaders, thereby leveraging better those stakeholders who are well-disposed to our plans and who are influential, and perhaps changing the opinions of those who are influential but less well-disposed. When we turn to the two outward-looking competencies of EQ, we find there is a competence area we call Social Awareness and another we call Relationship Management. These two external-facing or outward-looking competencies of EQ are fundamentally important in engaging different stakeholders virtually. Social Awareness makes us more aware of the needs and the backgrounds of stakeholders and of any diversity among stakeholders and how that might affect how they act or the opinions they may hold. For example, Nigerian nationals who lack the social awareness skills that EQ brings may mismanage a stakeholder map that includes nationals from significantly different parts of the globe. At the same time, socially aware Nigerians will understand and know how better to respect diversity and harness the power of diversity to serve the needs of the project or the organisation with which the stakeholder is in contact. Equally, socially aware Nigerians are better equipped to create an environment where every stakeholder from whatever background (for example, from whatever industry, regardless of gender, age, religious belief or sexual orientation) can feel valued, safe and wanted. This ability can create significantly better stakeholder environments, significantly benefiting the organisation. Suppose these same Nigerian executives master the EQ competency of relationship management. In that case, they will build positive and long-standing relationships with the stakeholders who really matter while also making all other stakeholders feel included. Stakeholder management of this kind is an invaluable asset for Nigerian companies that, for example, are working in an environment where they are partnering with non-national companies in different types of JVs. Executives can learn the skills and behaviours that make up these competency areas and can improve these skills and behaviours so that, in terms of emotional intelligence, they are doing all the things they can do, to the best of their ability, to engage with and keep the support of stakeholders. Thus, I encourage senior executives to attend this forthcoming hybrid programme between the 9th and 23rd of March online and between the 25th and 27th of March in the UK. Upon completion of this programme, participants will optimise their core competence in the following areas: Effective leadership, enhanced collaboration and team dynamics, ability to satisfy customers, and ability to achieve loyalty. Other insights that will be gleaned after this programme include how to inspire innovation and adaptability effectively, as well as better conflict resolution and problem-solving credentials.

Considering the unique challenges of the Nigerian business environment, how might the principles you teach in building trust remotely be adapted to navigate cultural nuances and diverse perspectives effectively? The Nigerian business environment is one of constant challenge and change, much of it unexpected. There are many essential elements and aspects to leading well in a challenging and changing environment, and all of them will help, but none of them will remove the challenge and change. The fundamental principles that I teach that will help alleviate the challenging, changing environment around building trust are to master the external forward-facing competencies of EQ and learn to influence and persuade individuals rather than tell individuals how to behave. Command and control behavioural approaches will rarely work in the kind of environments leaders face in Nigeria. Only the commitment of time, energy and emotional effort will suffice here. There is no substitute for spending time first understanding the models and then mastering them so that they can be used smoothly and seamlessly in the workplace. Then time and emotional energy must be committed, particularly to the pro-active building of internal relationships so that there is a climate of trust and psychological safety. This building of such a climate must, of course, acknowledge the unique challenges of the Nigerian business environment, both the socio-economic and the socio-political challenges. Nigerians of any age or gender from different cultural backgrounds must be able to work well and collaboratively together; that creates the sort of team (whether a live, hybrid or virtual team) that is best equipped to deal with the complex, unexpected and volatile nature of the Nigerian business landscape. I encourage executives to participate in this forthcoming TEXEM programme, as they will enhance their decision-making credentials, learn how to better gain competitive advantage and sustain long-term success.

How do you foresee participants implementing the techniques learned in your sessions to improve their organisational dynamics, especially in a distributed work environment? The fundamental idea here is to look at new ideas, understand them, learn how to practice and master them and leave the workshop with the belief that the ideas are worth putting into practice and the determination to do the work to master them so that the ideas can be brought to bear on the leadership practice of each individual attendee. I am aware of the time and the emotional energy required to do this. Only the determined will succeed. Given that this programme will be leveraging TEXEM’s tested and proven methodology that has helped thousands of leaders to win by making learning engaging, stimulating, impactful, and beneficial, you can trust this programme will be very actionable for all participants. Furthermore, the TEXEM methodology inspires among participants the determination required to build a better self and then to try to build a better Nigeria. Thus, participants will be driven to continue to make the necessary efforts until they have mastered the tools and techniques to which they are introduced. When they are capable inspirers of implementers, they will then meet with success in the field, which will encourage them to persevere with applying theory to practice until they have developed an improved leadership practice for themselves.

For more information about the forthcoming TEXEM programme, please email [email protected] or visit texem.co.uk