Mayvin - A specialist Leadership and Organisational Development company
Mayvin /‘meIvIn/ def: [also Maven - Yiddish/Hebrew]: ‘trusted expert in a particular field’
Jane was fully aware how she was seen in the organisation. ‘I know what they think of me’, she said. ‘But I also know there is more to me than that’. Indeed, once the new team was in place, Jane’s tone changed subtlely. Within the team, she was perceived as more open to feedback. In a development session, she was prepared to muck in with everyone, take some risks, and admit her vulnerabilities and lack of certainty. She still had fierce side, but she was clearly able to shift her style, recognizing that this new team needed something different from her. Many found her to be an excellent listening ear. She also role modeled a work-life balance, making it clear that there were times when she needed to switch off and have fun, with and without the team. People in the team, including some of the old guard, were surprised at how negotiable she had become, without losing her fierce vision for how the future needed to be. At times, some complained that she made decisions that seemed ‘irrational’, or at least it wasn’t always clear on what basis she was making them. They had to admit though, sometimes with grudging respect, that her intuitions were mostly spot on. But when things occasionally didn’t quite work out, she was prepared to admit she’d made a mistake. At times, she seemed quite humble. As a small woman, with a fiery streak of red dyed into her hair, people who came into the department didn’t always assume she was the boss. This didn’t bother her at all; it even amused her. But if they did anything that didn’t fit their brief, they found out who she was soon enough! She would say, ‘I learn a lot about people in how they behave towards me’.
The team became very productive, and the outputs were highly respected by the wider world, both inside and outside the organisation. But just when clarity had been re-established, Jane shifted registers once again. She appeared to be much more laissez-faire, encouraging and enabling individuals to experiment and develop new ideas. She would spend much of her time out of the office, only touching base to get reports, from Anna and others, about how things were going. “My job now is to stay close to the customers”, she would say, “now that you seem to know what you should be getting on with”. Whilst some of the team members found Jane’s shifting persona uncomfortable, others found it very liberating, and started to run with the new ideas they had. One or two people emerged as candidates for more senior leadership themselves. Jane maintained her fierceness from time to time, but this was again mostly aimed at underperformers, or when it seemed that external forces were threatening the vision of her team. Then, when it seemed like the team was really starting to perform almost without her, Jane announced that she was moving on, and left the organisation. She was missed, but the team behind her continued to perform well above expectations for a considerable time, despite a very volatile market.
Jane is based on a real senior leader who we have worked with – indeed we were instrumental in helping to build her team. We also found her combination of fierceness and negotiability compelling, and we knew we had our work cut out when designing a development session. “I don’t want anything too theoretical!” she said. “It has to really help people do their job better”. But when we pushed back that this would be best facilitated by working at the team member’s self awareness and their relationships, and that she would need to be involved as a learner herself, she was really open to it, recognizing its importance straight away. “We need a team of all-round people,” she would say.
We considered Jane to be a wise leader. Interestingly, although she exhibited in this story many of the intelligences listed above, it was an ‘X-Factor’ about Jane that really stood out to us. She was someone who had spent quite a lot of time developing herself, learning about herself, but it didn’t stop there. She also (as the story suggests) learnt about the unique way in which others might place her. She was able not just to work on herself, but with the story of herself, and how this fitted with the wider story of the organisation, and indeed the world. There was even a spiritual angle to this: Jane is someone who balanced very practical purposes with profound truths about herself and the world. And in the end, she was humble, admitted her mistakes, and knew when to move on.
We don’t offer Jane’s story as a blue-print. One of the principles of Workplace wisdom is that there cannot be, by definition, a one-size-fits-all approach. What stands out about Jane’s story is her individuality. But this isn’t about individualism, with an over-blown, heroic ego. There is some ego in Jane’s story, but it is used in the service of something wider. We offer Jane’s story more as an inspiration to you to find your own unique balance of intelligences, and work towards your own X-factor.
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We had been searching for a number of years for a top quality leadership and management trainer at a reasonable cost. Martin has been able to deliver an MBA level programme at a fraction of the cost offered by other providers. More importantly Martin quickly gained the confidence of the management team and he was able to focus the training to cover pertinent issues arising within the business. Martin offers flexibility with the programme’s pace and agenda and his facilitator style has the unerring knack of picking up very quickly on issues that the management team find difficult to discuss on their own.”
Alasdair Smith, Joint Managing Director (Wightman and Parrish)
The world is full of customers, clients and opportunities.
Like a weather system, the world is not predictable.
In human systems, the heart matters as much as the head.
The physical body matters as much as the heart.
Knowledge is not absolute - people’s perspectives and contexts matter.
There are different types of knowledge - insights and feelings matter as much as clear-headed reasoning.
People’s stories about what is going on matter more than the ‘objective’ truth.
Relationships, connections and politics matter.
Repeating patterns matter.
Diversity is a business-critical issue, not just an ethical one.
The world is ever-changing, messy and not always as it seems, but it is possible to find moments of clarity when the way forward suddenly becomes clear.