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Weeknote: 24.02.23


  • Interesting week with a lot on and not enough time. Enjoyed reading Why should anyone be led by you and listening to the points around complexity and complicated from Good Sport on talent selection.

  • Harvard Ideacast was really useful on the Power of Options. Found that paper super helpful, especially around the points on lean in, lean back, lean with and don’t lean.

  • Had a couple of really great conversations, with helped me to progress my thinking on coaching and to be less scared of the chemistry session – which to this point don’t seem to be doing that well.

  • Managed to produce a bit of content on linked in that did really well for me. Which was great.

Ideas I found interesting?

It was one of those weeks – too much on, and not enough time. I didn’t get around to doing everything I was hoping to do, and yet there were still some interesting points this week.

From Why should anyone be led by you, I thought the point the authors make about the risk that leadership books tend to encourage people to mimic the leadership behaviours of ‘successful’ leaders, was a useful observation. Mimicry doesn’t work. The takeaway is that books encourage people looking to take on leadership to explore the ideas and tools for themselves and find their own ways to grow into leadership – building the skills that they need. It fits with the ideas around experimentation and challenge.

Linked to this are the points on the importance of feedback by opening “…all channels, formal and informal, to learn how others see [you]”. We only grow through feedback, and honest feedback at that, so we need to seek out new experiences and new contexts to secure this feedback.

I also really liked the point that talent selection is a good example of complexity and how you can’t optimise the process to make it more efficient. You don’t know who will end up being successful and it’s all a bit of luck. If you try to optimise it and make it efficient you will reduce the opportunities to find talent. From Good Sport.

What did I learn?

From the Harvard Ideacast, the article on the Power of Options was brilliant. I thought the framework of “four stances” was super interesting and useful:

  • Lean In. Take an active stance on resolving an issue. Actions in this stance include deciding, directing, guiding, challenging, and confronting.

  • Lean Back. Take an analytical stance to observe, collect, and understand data. Actions include analysing, asking questions, and possibly delaying decisions.

  • Lean With. Take a collaborative stance, focusing on caring and connecting. Actions include empathizing, encouraging, and coaching.

  • Don’t Lean. Be still and create space for a new solution to bubble up from the subconscious. This stance also serves to calm emotions if they have been triggered. Actions include contemplating, visualizing, and breathing.

The author’s point is that leaders should know what their default stance is and then plan for using alternative ones in various situations and be ready to pivot if an approach is not working.

What did I enjoy?

I had a couple of great conversations. One was with Stuart Reid who both challenged and encouraged me to think differently about coaching. And one with EPP, which was loads of funds, there are a lot of challenges as we look for ways to build and grow our business but there is also real energy and excitement as we try different approaches and ways of working. I’m really enjoying the experimentation.

What did I find challenging?

I continue to learn and find challenging the questions of how to build the Ordinary Leadership brand and develop business. It is partly a growth activity for me, experimenting and getting comfortable with the uncertainty of not knowing what will work and what won’t. As I’ve said to a few people I also need to practice my skill of being uncomfortable not knowing and build my patience with things that might not happen straight away.

I had some interesting feedback on coaching, thinking about myself as a coach and who are the people I’m targeting. I think it's emerging managers and organisations trying to build leadership throughout their organisation – more ownership and engagement – but it still needs work. I also am finding my chemistry calls challenging, as I don’t think I’m being enough of myself and being authentic. So instead I come across trying to ‘manage’ the call. What I think that means is that I don’t build trust with the clients. The next step is to take this recognition and put it into practice, we’ll see how.

What did I achieve?

I was thrilled to see one of my posts do really well and resonate with people. It is an interesting insight into what lands for people and the importance of visual imagery.

I also had some success moving forward with some work in Pakistan which I hope will have an impact on how educational evidence feeds into policy.

What am I looking forward to next week?

Taking a break.


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