Leading Through Complexity

When leading through complex change linear thinking and micro-management simply don’t work.  Leading through complexity requires wisdom and wisdom enables decisiveness and action as it draws on deeply integrated experience to enable fast processing.  Wisdom = Experience + Intuition.  How do you trust the wisdom you have accrued over many years of experience and tap into it to make good decisions on what matters and act when action is needed?  When concerned about the consequences of an action consider the consequences of inaction?   Through my #coaching I help leaders RECOGNISE their wisdom and tap into their intuition in safe and judgement free space.  

Leading and Coaching for Change

How well do you lead change?  Many of us have been told that change is hard, people resist change and change takes a long time.  If one of these is embedded in your mindset around change leadership then I’d encourage a bit of personal re-programming.  Having led many change programmes ranging from international organisational cultural integrations to small restructures of roles and teams, my view is that organisations and leaders often make change harder than it needs to be by taking on too much of the a ‘my role is to make change happen’ or ‘push’ mindset versus one of ‘my role is to empower and inspire this team to make the change happen with my support’.  Oftentimes the resistors get all the energy and attention when, as a leader of change, we are better off giving oxygen, energy and empowerment to the people willing to have a say and give the change a try.  These are the people who will create a bow wave and bring the rest along.

Coaching for TRUST – A key ingredient in the performance cake.

Is trust something you share or hoard (like loo rolls in March 2020)? 

“Trust should be granted not earned”.  In other words, trust people until they stuff up and then help them learn from their mistakes, trust them to have another go and so on unless they stuff up so badly you are convinced, they can’t be trusted. 

  • Trust is fundamental to remote work and remote leadership.
  • The biggest barrier to trust is the leader’s willingness to grant trust.
  • Basic trust is based our comfort level that someone will do what we expect (predictability).
  • Good context and boundary setting are fundamental to the leader’s comfort level in letting go.
  • Deep Trust grounded in shared values is hard to build without interpersonal contact but can be enhanced by regular task focussed interactions – especially if they are around responding to challenges together.


From “Time” by Pink Floyd … “And then one day you find 10 years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”.

Typically, many of us are driven by what we want to HAVE and DO versus WHO we want to BE. Many HR systems and organisational processes are geared around motivating through task assignment and job design (DO), and remuneration, status and reward systems (HAVE).  Add a layer of economic challenge, job loss, and fear of job loss, in the current economic climate of uncertainty and our tendency to be stuck focussing on what we want to DO and HAVE is greater than ever.  Through coaching I encourage people to think about WHO they ARE and want to BE, their values, beliefs, strengths and attitudes.  These are the core foundations for what we DO and, as a result, HAVE.  Don’t start with the DO and HAVE and hope that the BE will follow – you might forget who you are and lose yourself (and 10 years) in the process. 

When have you shifted from fear to fun?

You’re in the raft moving through some tranquil waters but feel a bit nervous about what’s ahead.  Can you trust your fellow tourist paddlers and your guide (a small woman who is half your age)?  Can they meet the challenges of the larger rapids, and what about that waterfall?  You have no choice, the waterfall is approaching and it’s too late to get out.    

White water rafting, like business, has tipping points (often literally) when you have to go through a paradigm shift and trust others.  At work, maybe you’ve felt stuck with a team that was sinking, but knew jumping ship would damage your reputation.   Then came the tipping point, you and the team survived the waterfall together.  Relief and elation follow, you reframe the experience as ‘good fun’ and enjoy re-telling the tale of how you overcame adversity.

If you have such memories then hold onto them as the resources you need to draw on for internal strength next time you are sinking in ‘what’s too hard versus what’s possible’.  To fast track this (individually or with your team) engage a me as your professionally certified coach to help you reframe your internal dialogue and recognise your strengths.

Where are you the Sigmoid Curve?

In 1984 I read Charles Handy’s The Future of Work in which the end of full-time work was foreseen. 

Handy popularised the ‘Sigmoid Curve’ as a model for change in organisations. Sigmoid – the Greek letter ‘S’ was used to represent the curve of change that we go through in life, jobs and organisations. It represents a new life cycle emerging from an existing one.  He suggested that in order to survive and grow, organisations need to be more mindful of their place in their present life cycle on the curve and prepare for transformational change.   Timing is everything. If you act too soon, at Point A on the Curve, you miss the benefits of the peak of your current cycle. If you act too late, at Point B, you may have left if too late to turn things around.  

How do you see the opportunities for transformation in the present cycle and start to make your moves while things are going well?   You don’t need a crisis for transformational change to happen – but you do need conscious strategic engagement and conversations as leadership teams to truthfully reflect on where you are on the curve, where you want to be and how you are going to get there.    

Recognise Possibilities – One step at a time – most things are achievable.

This is Baranco’s Wall, also known as “breakfast” as it’s the cliff you climb after breakfast on about day 4 of the 7 day route up Kilimanjaro. Like a lot of challenges, from a distance, it looks a lot harder than it is. There was a well worn track to follow with just a bit of scrambling but no ropes etc. needed. As an individual I have always liked to challenge myself – I did this walk just over a week after running the New York Marathon. I had planned and executed my training step by step to overcome recurring injuries so that I had faith I could manage both. As a coach I now like to help others challenge themselves to set and attain their goals. I aim to help people get things into perspective, recognise their real potential, plan their steps and not be overwhelmed by what may look like a sheer cliff from afar.

How are you looking far enough ahead in a VUCA world?

As a senior leader how do you ensure that your thinking remains strategic and relevant?

As a leader how many people around you give you healthy levels of challenge?  How much is enough challenge to help your grow and expand your thinking?  In my 30+ year career I’ve observed there are seldom enough people with the courage or conviction to really challenge senior executives from a place of real care and concern for whole organisation.  This could be from a fear of reprisal, making a career limiting move, or perhaps from some perception of what it means to be respectful.   The sad thing is senior executives are in danger of stagnating and even becoming irrelevant without healthy levels of challenge.  Supportive challenge can help us think beyond the day to day and deal with more imperative long-term strategic issues.  Long term strategic thinking is after all the key role of an executive.  Having a great coach is a safe way for executives to open their strategic thinking beyond the here and now to Recognise what really matters and to stay relevant in Volatile Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous world.