Category: Article – Vision


Posted on /by Praveen Singh/in Article - Vision, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

Patagonia’s Grounded Vision

No Cliff Hangers

by Kim Goodhart

Why Patagonia’s Grounded Vision Has Won Them Long-Term Love – Not Recognition

When Patagonia – globally renowned outdoor equipment and clothing outfitter – sought to realign its brand values and culture amidst America’s 1990 recession, no meetings were called, no graphics are drawn, no market comparisons or competitor insights were brought forward. Instead, its founder, Yvon Chouinard, and its 12 key managers took a road trip to Argentina. Here they walked, talked, sat and mused about what was actually important to them as a company – why they did what they did –– not a word was said about profit.

Fast forward almost two decades, and staying true to their brand ethos and vision hasn’t just won the company awards and a loyal customer base, it’s reaffirmed to the world that marketing success isn’t driven by just moving goods, it’s about moving minds and hearts. And, that purpose lead engagement – eliciting people’s emotions through active storytelling – benefits all – employees, customers and the environment – long-term.  

Stay Out-of-the-box

You don’t have to dig deep to uncover Patagonia’s litany of achievements and initiatives, dating all the way from the 70s to the present day – including the most recent UN 2019 Champions of the Earth Award for entrepreneurial vision.

Despite the fact that each of their measures has carried its own toolset across the decades, what hasn’t changed is their bind to the same purpose and goal set. In fact, every product, solution, plight – even recently updating their mission statement,

Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

– has been engaged to drive active good for their customers, their people and the world. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring that 70% of its products are made from recycled materials. By 2025, their goal is to use 100% renewable or recycled materials. Donating 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of natural environments – awarding more than of $89m to causes – formally establishing a non-profit corporation ‘1% for the Planet’ in 2002.
  • Through an environmental internship program, it offers employees – from all parts of the company – the opportunity to leave their roles and work for an environmental group of their choice for up to two months.
  • Establishing Worn Wear an online/instore initiative aimed at extending the life of Patagonia gear and reducing landfill.

As Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, said at the National Retail Federation 2019 conference,

We don’t just seek now to do less harm, we need to do more good.

However, ‘sustainable’ expectations are something they’ve never leveraged themselves off – in fact as Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard attests to, the idea of a fully sustainable business or product is impossible:

There is no such thing as sustainability. The best we can do is cause the least amount of harm.

Instead, the word ‘responsible’ is what the company have kept at the fore, as Chouinard argues in his article – ‘Patagonia In The Making: My Founder’s Story’

Responsibility starts with companies treating nature not as a resource to be exploited but as a unique, life-giving entity on which we all – not least business – depend.

Simultaneously, this ‘responsibility’ has kept their teams aligned and working together – giving voice to matters that matter, and strengthening connections between internal marketers and those employees in the external fields, ensuring all beat to the tune of the Patagonia drum:

  • Consider the environmental impact of everything we do.
  • Engage and support our communities.
  • Contribute a portion of our sales to philanthropy.

Igniting the Internal and External

Patagonia’s success Manship pivots from every facet of its organisation. As a company they continue to prove that in order to be truly successful you don’t just have to have a clear mission and brand values, you have to align everyone in your organisation around your vision and purpose statements. And you have to create tangibility – maintain a ‘one out-of-the-box’ stance.

So, to ensure their internal and external teams operate well and truly in sync. Their business model isn’t geared towards a typified rewards system for their employees – whereby people come to work, do their job well, they get rewarded. Instead, they inhabit the space beyond the conventional ideologies of old.

Because they’ve always operated on their own system, they know exactly what they’re there to do as a business, and can, therefore, make a meaningful change because they don’t have to hide behind glossy branding and dodge bullets from unhappy employees. Patagonia continues to be led by chief Visionary Officers – people who will keep everyone excited and inspired by where they’re heading. It has nothing to do with creating an environment where people are excited to come to work for self-reward and satisfaction. Employees and customers remain loyal because they believe in Patagonia and its tangible vision for what it looks and feels like to be a part of something purposeful.

Purpose forward

Like their purposeful vision, Patagonia continues to embrace means and measures to ensure their speak has greater outreach to help drive those visions. Which is why emotive video storytelling is fast becoming a Patagonia’s preferred platform – their film Artifishal, a documentary focused on the financial, environmental, and cultural costs of fish hatcheries and farms, and the fight for wild salmon is just one recent film example.

As Yvon Chouinard says in his founder’s article,

People don’t read any more and they make decisions based on emotions, so I think film is the best way to elicit people’s emotions.

It’s through moving imagery and genuine, emotive storytelling that we change behaviour. If the modern business world is to really transform then we all need to connect our people with a central purpose beyond self-reward and motivate our customers and followers through video storytelling.

Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Leadership, Purpose, Transformation

Is a CEO’s single most important job to build belief?

By Kim Goodhart

“The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” – Helen Keller

It’s not enough to have a great vision. Great leaders need followers. Without them they are a one-man band and limited in what they can achieve. The skill of a great leader is to unite people behind a vision for the future that they will all work to achieve.

In my series of up-close-and-personal chats with New Zealand’s leading CEOs <watch it here>, CEO of Genesis Energy Marc England makes the point, “You win the hearts and minds by presenting a very clear vision that people can understand.

“They don’t have to always agree, but they have to understand it and then you’ve got to make the argument. I think having a consumer driven vision is a lot easier to motivate people around because it is tangible and everyone is a consumer of our product.”

CEO of Southern Cross Health Society Nick Astwick makes a similar point, “I really believe in purpose and vision, but at the end of the day it’s pointless if I’m the only one who does.

“The power comes from having the people aligned around the right thing but actually even better is that their own personal beliefs are completely aligned around the organisation’s beliefs.

“I think one of the biggest roles we have as leaders is to get people brought into the vision.”

Nick goes on to say that getting people behind a vision isn’t something that happens in a slide presentation, or at an annual conference, or in the spirit of ‘you shalt do this…’

“The skill of a leader is to clearly articulate a future and then it’s also their job to have a thousand conversations with people and make the sense of that clear. There’s no point if it’s just me,” says Marc. “It’s the difference between performing and transforming as a business.”

Talking to these CEOs, the sense is that three things needs to happen:

  1. Understanding – People need to understand the vision;
  2. Direction – People need to know where they are going; and
  3. Opportunity – People need to see the opportunity.

Of Genesis, Marc says, “I think what they’re excited about is seeing a clear destination for Genesis”.

But it’s a two-way street.

As the people within an organisation start to get excited about the vision, they also begin to empower their CEO. The more people that start to put energy into the vision, the more momentum it gains.

“What empowers me and motivates me is when I see employees understanding that end destination,” says Marc, and it is this momentum that drives the change initiatives forward.

Both Marc and Nick accept that there will be people who do not get the vision, or who are not excited by it, and as a result a natural procession of attrition takes place as those people go out and seek opportunities that do align with a future they can envisage.

As the process of unification and alignment behind the vision gathers momentum, the people within an organisation – the ‘followers’ – take the lead. New products are created and new initiatives emerge.

This, I believe, is a tipping point. When everyone believes that the seemingly impossible is now possible, belief becomes reality.

In the words of former American Express CEO James Robinson III, “True leadership must have follower-ship. Management styles can vary, but even an autocrat needs people who believe and simply don’t follow from fear”.

Photo by: Greg Rakozy
@grakozy

Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Leadership, Purpose, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

Is the CEO’s most important job to have a vision?

By Kim Goodhart

“You only get there because you’ve defined your destination… A lot of companies don’t define a very clear destination. If I look at some of the case studies of companies that have failed they’re often enjoying driving the car but they didn’t know where they were going.” – Marc England, CEO Genesis Energy

Leaders need to have a vision, a vision beyond what their people, their customers, their share-holders and perhaps even their board might be able to see. This, is their role – to be able to see a future potential that they have the capability to create because, without it, what else is there to motivate their people?

“Any incoming CEO has got to have a vision,” says Marc in my series of up-close-and-personal-chats with New Zealand’s leading visionary CEOs <watch it here>. “If you don’t have a vision, you’re not going to get there.”

In my opinion, the team’s role is to make the vision a reality, but it is the CEOs job to have the vision.

Marc has a vision for the future. It is: “To change the way that consumers engage with energy”.

Without vision CEO’s, organisations and the people who work in them can do what they’ve always done, but they’re not going anywhere and they will neither succeed, nor survive the changes that are coming.

“There are very few industries now that are not in some form of change mode because the world is moving faster,” says Marc. “If I look at different industries around the world this is the one (energy) that I think is going to change the most.

“All we’ve done for decades is generate electrons, source gas, bill customers and collect their cash and that’s been going on for over one hundred years and no one’s really changed that. So, we’ve got this huge opportunity. Technology is changing that. It’s enabling the change, consumers are demanding more as well.”

There’s two dimensions to what ‘there’ is, says Marc.

“One is what the consumers are demanding. The other is what we need to do to in order to develop and protect our energy future. Consumers are demanding more digitisation, more digital interactions; they want to tap things on their phone as opposed to receive a paper bill… but then there’s a bunch of needs that I think consumers don’t yet know they need, and I have a lot of people saying if customers don’t want it, why would you do it?

“It’s amazing how, if you put something in front of a consumer and test it, they suddenly realise it’s something better than they thought.”

Marc isn’t just looking at what his customers are asking for, he is looking ahead into a future that the rest of us cannot yet see and asking what do my customers and people want, and need, in the future and why? What does the planet need? It’s not just about a customer experience, it’s about the whole future of energy.

“If we can’t engage consumers in energy, and all they want it to do is turn their lights on and pay their bill then I think there are some longer-term risks for our industry as other brands and industries start to percolate into our space and they are very good at engaging consumers,” says Marc. “The desire to be with Genesis is an important thing we are trying to create here.”

In the Stephen King novella, The Langoliers, people and objects stuck in yesterday get consumed by strange creatures called The Langoliers – creatures that feed on time that has passed. Ten aircraft passengers, who find themselves stuck in ‘yesterday’, have to escape into the future to survive. But they need a pilot to take them there.

It’s a nice metaphor, don’t you think?

Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Leadership, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

Win or learn – do all great leaders reframe their fear?

By Kim Goodhart

When Elon Musk sold PayPal to eBay, he could have taken his co-founders cut – PayPal sold for $1.5 billion – and retired a billionaire. Instead, he took a huge risk and invested the money in founding private space exploration company, SpaceX, of all things, and Tesla (all electric vehicles). Both ventures nearly bankrupted him – from billionaire to pauper – but in the end he won out. Both companies now carry significant value and Musk’s fame is assured.

It can manifest as a cold sweat, weakness in the legs and nausea; or ‘just’ a grim feeling in the pit of your stomach. Your response may be to freeze, to run or to fight, and it takes some serious cognitive muscle to override any of those neurobiological impulses.

In a business scenario, fear or risks may result in uncertainty, paralysis in decision making, anxiety – any number of physiological responses that make it hard to flex that cognitive muscle because our decision making becomes impaired.

In my up-close-and-personal chat with Marc England, CEO Genesis Energy <watch it here> he says, “I think that (fear) holds a lot of people back. There is a fear that if you get something wrong there might be a consequence.

“I have a reasonably high personal appetite for personal risk. I’ve never worried in my career about losing my job, I’ve never made a decision to be conservative in case I got it wrong,” says Marc.

What Marc is doing is reframing his fear.

“People’s safety, and harm to people, is not a good failure so you cannot take those risks. But putting a new product into market… if it fails, has limited consequences other than personal reputation,” says Marc.

Where one person may see a huge threat in launching a product that may fail, Marc see it as ‘only’ his reputation that would be damaged, which to him – in perspective – is nothing too serious.

Like Marc, great leaders learn to put context to the risks around them. They overcome the fears that hold others back by putting them into perspective.

“I think sometimes people can misinterpret what a good risk or a bad risk, a good failure or a bad failure might be, and can then be risk adverse in what actually isn’t the end of the world if it doesn’t work perfectly.”

Reframing and putting things in perspective is an important distinction that great leaders share, because it allows them to move more freely. Where fear may hold one person back from doing something new (or potentially risky), great leaders can reframe the situation and move forwards – taking them to new heights of success.

As CEO of Southern Cross Health Society Nick Astwick says in an earlier interview, “I learned not to associate myself too closely with my successes and failures”.

The world is changing. And it will be those who can manage their fear, who take smart risks, that will be best suited to lead us into the future.

As Nick Astwick says, “There’s a lot of risks and threats in that, but there is also a lot of opportunity”.

Leaders who reframe the risks and threats in the world in order to be able to see the opportunities in front of them have the power to create real change that will benefit all those around them.

Photo by: Jeremy Bishop

@tentides
Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

The power of vulnerability

Up-close-and-personal chats with New Zealand’s leading visionary CEOs

By Kim Goodhart

The world is moving at a faster pace, forcing the disruption of industries and the future is unclear. CEOs have the unenviable job of leading their organisations into the unknown and face the inevitable challenge of having to learn as they go. Since failure is an inevitable part of learning, how do they cope with the fear of failure?

No child would learn to ride a skateboard if the fear of crashing into the sidewalk outweighed the vision of flying along the sidewalk. Children have an enviable ability to dream. To create a clear vision of what they want to achieve. To lead their people into the unknown CEOs must lock on to the vision of flying along the sidewalk to overcome the fear of crashing.

As such, the courage to fail is now a critical virtue of leadership. In the words of Robert F. Kennedy, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”.

In the first of a series of one-on-one close-up interviews that Real TV is doing with New Zealand’s leading CEOs, I talk to Southern Cross Health Society CEO Nick Astwick about the courage to fail and the benefits of this virtue.

As Nick says in the interview <watch it here>, failures taught him to not associate who he was too much with either his successes or his failures. He also learned to surround himself with black hat thinkers who would question him along the way.

Nick says that failures, while painful, gave him the self-awareness and resilience to lead. I believe that leaders like Nick not only accept their failures – they learn that their failures have made them stronger leaders and as such they embrace failure with a positivity that gives them the courage to be vulnerable in the face of fear.

It is this vulnerability that gives them the strength to lead their people into the unknown. Perhaps it is this vulnerability that also allows them to see the vision for what they want to achieve (is it the fear of failure that prevents so many people from knowing what they dream of?).

You could say that leaders are *anti-fragile. They are strengthened by the things that have gone wrong in their lives. Great leaders take the knocks in life and grow from them. This is what makes them stronger and gives them the humility to lead and ultimately to succeed. Without leaders who dream of how things can be, life would continue as it always has. It takes courage to lead people into the unknown and this is the power of vulnerability.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

– Winston Churchill

*anti-fragile: the term comes from the book, ‘Things That Gain From Disorder’ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

What makes leaders unique?

Up-close-and-personal chats with New Zealand’s leading visionary CEOs

By Kim Goodhart

“I believe in what I do. Work is not a job; it is a vehicle in which I can contribute to New Zealand and that’s the way I feel it. Life is short. Give it a bash. It’s a philosophy. I have a deep belief that business is about advancing society for the good.” – Southern Cross Health Society CEO Nick Astwick

Is this the kind of thinking that sets great leaders apart from other people?

In the first of a series of Real TV one-on-one interviews with New Zealand’s leading CEOs, I talk to Southern Cross Health Society CEO Nick Astwick who sees a big part of his role as making sure New Zealand is a productive nation. You can watch it here.

“In the long term it would be lovely for my grandchildren to want to carve their career in NZ. We need large organisations and opportunities for kids in NZ to make it.”

Something that is beginning to emerge in my thinking as I do more of these interviews, is that the leaders who will have the best impact on our society have an ability to see what is now, and what could be. They see a clearly articulated vision for the future and they want to create it for us. They then have to communicate that vision to others – and when others understand that vision, they want to join them.

Nick puts it well when he says, “I think one of the biggest roles we have as leaders is to get people brought into the vision”.

Articulate the future and drive towards it

The skill of a leader is to clearly articulate the future. The power of the vision comes when everyone believes in the vision.

“As a leader you have to get your people to buy into the vision and this happens through thousands of conversations,” says Nick.

‘Normal’ people, I am sure, don’t think like this. We’re often told that leaders can be made, however, I’m not convinced this is a learned trait. I believe this is something some leaders are born with, which sets them apart and gives them the hardwiring to lead people into the unknown. The power of these leaders comes from the vision. Their ability to see possibility where others might not, and to connect others to that vision.

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

– Jack Welch, Former Chairman, General Electric

Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Kim, Purpose, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

Why do you have to be true to yourself to lead?

Up-close-and-personal chats with New Zealand’s leading visionary CEOs

By Kim Goodhart

In the lead up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Nelson Mandela (the story goes) had to face down a room full of his peers, colleagues and followers – all of whom are in a meeting specifically to cull the Springbok emblem.

He was a lone voice, but he stood his ground. He had a vision for national unity and would not be swayed despite the cacophony around him. The Springbok emblem united the country in the 1995 Rugby World Cup and remains to this day.

In the first of a series of one-on-one close-up interviews that Real TV is doing with New Zealand’s leading CEOs, I talk to Southern Cross Health Society CEO Nick Astwick to find out about authentic Leadership. Nick makes the point that a good CEO or leader is true to him/herself.

Nelson Mandela remained resolute in the face of dissent that conflicted with his vision, but for many CEOs it isn’t much different.

Today’s CEO must manage the demands and expectations of customers, shareholders, board members and their people – all of whom are wildly different. Clearly, to succeed, a CEO must be confident that his or her vision is the right one and that confidence, I think, comes to CEOs who know themselves well enough to find the right organisation to lead – one that aligns with who they are.

The value of authenticity

Nick is clear that a CEO must be authentic. Don’t try and be someone you’re not for the role. You will only be successful in leadership if you are genuinely truthful to who you are. If you try to be somebody you’re not, then you will be caught out very quickly.

Nick says it wasn’t until he knew why he wanted to be a CEO, and what type of CEO he would be, that he found a fit with an organisation and a strategy that he could be true to himself. Only then did he become a CEO.

In fact, in the video <watch it here> he tells us how he failed to get the top job when he was trying to be something that his potential employers wanted, rather than who he was.

I believe it is the inner clarity that comes from knowing yourself and knowing what you believe that allows great leaders to make the seemingly impossible possible.

In the movie Invictus – which tells the South African version of events leading up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup – there’s a scene where black children rush with joy to play with white rugby players. One rugby player says to another, “Did you ever imagine this?” To which his team mate replies, “How could I?”

Most people will never see what can be possible until it happens.

And while it may seem extreme to suggest that our CEOs and leaders need the level of conviction that Nelson Mandela showed. I believe our best leaders have the same authentic passion for the vision they are leading. It is this that is driving the changes within their organisations and it is this that inspires their people, customers, shareholders and board members.

When all these people start to see the vision become a reality they too ask, “Did you ever imagine this?” Leaders that are true to themselves and have vision can make the seemingly impossible possible and that is why I believe we need them.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

– Nelson Mandela

Photo by:  Quino Al

Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Kim, Purpose, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

Sexual harassment in the workplace needs a tick, not a big stick

As momentum from the global #MeToo movement reaches New Zealand shores – signalled by recent allegations of a culture of sexual harassment in the legal sector – it may be time for this country to introduce the gender equality equivalent of the gay community’s Rainbow Tick.

Incentives always work very well, and a ‘gender equality tick’ programme may be a compelling incentive to drive the change in culture we need to achieve real behaviour change.

Rules and disciplinary processes are necessary to protect people, but as a tool for enduring cultural change within an organisation, they are unlikely to be enough. The drawback of the disciplinary process – while necessary – is that people are too afraid to speak up because they think of the social cost to themselves or they are afraid that it might destroy their careers.

Far more impactful than just punishing the bad behaviour would be a vision and celebration of mutual respect and equality within the workplace – something people can aspire towards, together with the tools and education to achieve it.

In my experience – in working with companies to achieve behaviour change through communication – where undesirable behaviour exists, it is often so ingrained in the culture that most people are oblivious to it or they have accepted it has the norm.

Time after time I’ve seen how it is rewards-based systems that achieve better transformation. The equivalent of a Rainbow Tick will be a greater motivation for change. The tick, combined with education – and a few simple measures that people can take to improve their company culture – could rapidly change the current situation.

A ‘gender equality tick’ system would help both prospective employees, and customers, make informed decisions about whether or not they want to do business with an organisation – itself a strong incentive to drive real transformation in the workplace.

Consumer choice drives business decision making. When the consumer has a choice between two equally good products or services, they may be more inclined to choose a company that is socially responsible. So, when all the information is out in the open, then companies are motivated to do the right thing.

Both men and women need to feel safe in the workplace. Processes and workplace regulations are important but change needs to happen because people want it to happen and they’re ready for it.

The Rainbow Tick (http://www.rainbowtick.co.nz/whats-rainbow-tick/) is a certification mark awarded to organisations that complete a Diversity and Inclusion certification process regarding whether or not workplaces understand, value and welcome sexual and gender diversity.

I believe the Rainbow Tick works because it allows organisations to celebrate their diversity and inclusion. It allows them to tell the public that they’ve got it right, and it delivers both education and achievable steps for organisations to follow so that they can get it right – it moves beyond blame to solving, which can only be good for everyone.

If an organisation has a vision and enrols its staff in that vision, change will follow. Enforcement in the workplace can only treat the symptoms, but culture change is far more valuable.

Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Kim, Purpose, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

#MeToo – How culture control can help CEOs achieve gender equality

In horticulture there is a term called ‘culture control’ that involves using various techniques, like crop rotation, to change the environment into one that is undesirable for pests and diseases – it’s also a made-to-fit analogy for how an organisation can become a place that is undesirable for sexism and misogyny.

By putting in place a series of measures – like New Zealand’s pest quarantine system, using resistant plant varieties, ensuring soils are well drained and tools are kept clean – horticulturalists create an environment where plant diseases and pests find it difficult to get a footing.

Horticulture calls the practise ‘culture control’, but it’s an apt term to apply in the workplace too. By implementing ‘culture control measures’ in the workplace, we can create an environment in which it is difficult for sexism, misogyny and *‘himpathy’ (the tendency to sympathise with men accused of sexual harassment and assault) to take root.

By implementing a series of ‘culture control’ measures in an organisation, chief executive officers and senior management can help shift to a place where gender equality and diversity flourish – a place where each person is valued and rewarded for who they are and their contribution, rather than by gender or race.

Importantly, the CEO will be creating an environment that is not conducive to sexism and its darker counterpart, misogyny; thereby achieving lasting change.

What are some of the ‘culture control’ measures that organisation’s might consider?

  1. Workplace sexism prevention

A culture of sexism or even ‘himpathy’ encourages the growth of misogyny. Weed out sexism, and misogyny will struggle to take root.

Like workplace health and safety – or accident prevention – management could look to run an education programme about why gender equality is important for everybody and how to spot bad habits, sexist behaviour and language (including in the individual personally).

This can then be supported with real tools for eliminating sexist language and behaviour, even within ourselves, as well as processes for dealing with issues as they arise.

  1. Storytelling

To achieve real change, there needs to be an emotional shift.

Sharing video stories about women and some of their challenges, for example, will tap into people’s emotions and achieve meaningful change in attitudes and levels of empathy towards women e.g. put yourself in a woman’s shoes.

  1. Outlets

In horticulture, ventilation is an important aide in temperature control which, in turn, is used to discourage the growth of, for example, mould.

The equivalent action may be putting in sympathetic processes and structures for women who need support, as well as disciplinary processes to deal to sexual harassment and misogyny and also some way or forum for women to share (and therefore educate), on things that are not acceptable (this applies to all women, not just a handful from the HR team – it needs to be companywide).

Only be creating an environment that celebrates equality and diversity can we begin to realise the true potential of an organisation.

*Himpathy, a term coined by Cornell University Philosophy Professor Kate Manne to mean making excuses, sympathy, forgiveness and or exonerating sexist or misogynistic behaviour i.e. “it was a different era back then” is himpathy.

 

Posted on /by colin/in Article - Vision, Kim, Purpose, Strategy - Vision, Transformation

Team unity strips fear of its power

Part 3: Business lessons from Mount Cook

By Kim Goodhart

Little did I know (that’s me, the weakest link in our team) that the Mount Cook Range trail – a demanding 3 day alpine trek through the Ball Pass Crossing, would test us all, even the strongest in unexpected ways and only unity would pull us through.

After the glacier we had to climb up an exposed section of rock. Steve is incredibly strong and fit and leaves me for dust in every physical activity, but he hates extreme exposure and heights.

It is the only place where our roles get reversed. For a brief moment I’m able to be the person that supports him and it feels good. I’m not afraid of heights if I’m climbing because rightly or wrongly I feel that I am in control. I also knew that without a shadow of doubt that I could trust my team with the rope and that should I fall they would have me.

But that’s’ the funny thing about fear. It isn’t rational. What terrifies one person is simple to another. We all have our fears and they hold us back. Each and every person needs help – no matter how strong they are – when they encounter their fear.

Most people will do everything to avoid fear, but the really courageous go in there anyway. The best teams are the ones that know and understand each other’s fears and support each other through to the end. This is the beauty of a team over an individual. Strengths and fears blend together to make the team stronger.

But even though I know all this it was an eye opening experience for me to see the team move to reassure Steve and help him through the extreme heights. No one tried to urge him to go faster. No one was concerned. It was simply about making sure we all supported each other through every section. It’s a group effort and, when the team come together to support each other, they actually reach the goal faster and enjoy the journey.

Lessons from a slippery slope

On day 3 it was the loose rocks and scree slopes that got the other two team members.

Perhaps my naivety kept me from fear, but they knew all too well that we were surrounded by loose rocks. Any one of which could fall down the slopes at any moment and that we would have to move quickly if it did.

What I learned is that when a team is united with a common objective to reach a specific end goal, then everyone has to take into account the various team members and we have to help everyone get to the end.

To achieve this means listening to each other’s fears and anxieties, taking the time to understand them and give them what they need to get though. It takes knowing each other’s strengths and being able to rely on the stronger people – in that moment – to support you.

Looking back over the three days (see blog parts 1 and 2) I was happy on the exposed cliffs and crossing the glacial crevasses because I could trust my team. I knew that they would do whatever it took to keep each of us safe along the way. All  I had to do was play my role and keep putting one foot in front of the other to maintain the pace that our guide set.

And the result was that we achieved each section of the pass in record times. Our guide referred to our group as honed athletes. It is not something I’ve ever been described as but, thanks to the support of my amazing team, they brought me up to their level and this for me is what teams should be about.

What did I learn from the 3 day crossing?

* Choose your group carefully. You will only be as strong as the weakest link.

* Know your goal.  We all knew exactly what we’d set out to achieve and were committed to it.

* Know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You need to be open enough to let each other in and rely on each other for support. Openness about your strengths and weaknesses builds trust – it is the power of vulnerability.

Do all that, and not only will you achieve what you set out to achieve, you will do it faster and more efficiently then you ever thought possible.