EVENT
  • Leadership

New Solutions for New Leadership

IEDP’s review of Cranfield’s first '@Brand Exchange' Leadership event in the City of London

 

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In the week the UK was supposed to leave the EU, the debate around political leadership (or lack of it) is in full flow. As it is in the business world, where the debate is about how to lead in times of volatility and uncertainty.

In the first of a series of complimentary thought-leadership events, Andy Logan, Director of Cranfield School of Management's High Performance Leadership Program, delivered an engaging contribution to the debate in a session titled New Solutions for New Leadership Normals.

The Brand Exchange near Monument in the City of London was the venue. An apt setting as this site was once famed for its coffee-house culture, where 17th Century ‘gentlemen’ would share opinions and ideas on current affairs when - during the ‘Restoration’ period - leadership would have been a key topic of debate.

The invite-only attendees were treated to a breakfast, to set them up for the day, and to a brain-nourishing seminar from Andy Logan – billed as a chance to ‘connect, discuss, and innovate’ – which spanned neuroscience, to mythology, and from Tolstoy to Trump.

This was a highly enjoyable session which worked as a 'mini morning journey' – taking us from the development of our limbic brains (“With no experience, there is no growth”) – to the Holy Grail leadership of the Arthurian Knights, via old Middle England (“’Laed’ was the word for a quest beyond the known horizon, and ‘laedere’ the word for a guide on that quest,”) – all the way back to Rumi’s ‘embryo’ (“There is no ‘other world’. I only know what I've experienced. You must be hallucinating.”

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Join Andy Logan on Cranfield’s High Performance Leadership Program to become the best leader you can be

Dates: 20-24 May +  9-11 Sept 2019; and 11-15 Nov 2019 + 10-12 Feb 2020

Format: 2 modules residential + 1 module at work │ Location: Cranfield, UK

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This really was food for the brain – with quotations and cultural references from throughout history, across the generations, and from diverse disciplines and fields (Marvin Gaye played over the sound system at one stage) – each designed to refresh your outlook for the day – and with luck, beyond that.

Importantly though, this was not done as an academic exercise. The concepts discussed, based on universal and sometimes ancient wisdoms and philosophical insights, were all ones that were applicable in the real-world, like tools from a toolkit, to the most up-to-the-minute business challenges that a manager or leader might be facing that very day.

A section of the seminar on the VUCA world was particularly powerful in addressing the ‘developmental bruises’ or ‘wounds’ inherent in our personal make-up. Or in other words our “life experiences that didn’t go right along the way,” – crucial to our formation as adult human beings, let alone as successful leaders.

Logan reminded us that these wounds would be challenged, rubbed up against, and perhaps re-opened – as we attempt to navigate through the VUCA world we find ourselves operating in at work. Logan advised the room to acknowledge and tend to those wounds – and to find antidotes to them where possible.

Tolstoy’s ‘fog of war’ from War and Peace, for example, was directly related to the fog of everyday business in a VUCA world. “An innumerable collection of freely acting forces (and nowhere is a man freer than on the field of battle, where it is a question of life and death) influence the direction taken by a battle, and that can never be known beforehand and never corresponds with the direction of any one force,” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace.

Logan spoke of ‘new solutions’ to this ‘new normal’ – which is to say, the daunting complexity of the VUCA world (or as Logan puts it “a constantly moving jigsaw puzzle, where each piece you place shifts every other piece in turn, and shifts yourself too”).

Interestingly, Logan’s ‘new solutions’ were all from past great thinkers, figures from history – or the wisdom of ancient peoples. Perhaps the best example of this was from the native American Ponca tribe’s Chief Big White Eagle:

“When you are in doubt,
be still, and wait;

when doubt no longer exists for you,
then go forward with courage.

So long as mists envelop you, be still;
be still until the sunlight pours through
and dispels the mists — as it surely will.

Then act with courage.”

As Logan noted – the current parliamentary tussling on the complex problem of Brexit for the UK government, might benefit from this approach – as no doubt many of us could in our working lives and in our on-going projects.

Another 'tool for the toolkit' (and another 'new solution' borrowed from ancient times) came in the form of a brief meditation practice which concluded Logan's session.

A good bell-weather as to the success of an event like this – and to the engagement or impact achieved with the audience – is the Q&A – and this one produced some highly thoughtful, frank and challenging questions, which Logan responded to in the same entertaining style as he delivered his talk.

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Senior leaders wishing to apply for a place to attend one of Cranfield’s events, please email: cedevents@cranfield.ac.uk

Forthcoming Cranfield@Brand Exchange events are scheduled for:

2 July, 5:30-9:30pm, when Professor Patrick Reinmoeller will focus on 'Leadership Strategy'; and

2 October, 8:30am-11:30am, when Professor David Denyer and Dr Elmar Kutsch will consider 'Organizational Resilience'.


Transforming knowledge into action through the unique Cranfield Experience





 
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