UGL course

November 15 to 19 I attended a five day UGL (Understanding Group and Leader) course. It was a great course, I learned more about group dynamics and leadership plus got more self-insight. We were eight attending and during the week we went from strangers to a very well functioning group, learning along the way. Action based learning is terrific but it’s also intense since you’re part of the process.

We had three fedback exercises (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday), all different and very useful. On Friday we did an action plan, what shall we do in order to get better as leaders and group members. We made a copy of the plan, it will be mailed to us later as a reminder.

I really enjoyed the course, I learned a lot (new things as well as refreshing some old) about group dynamics and myself. It takes time to digest it all and see how I can make the best use of it going forward.

Understanding Group and Leader (UGL)

Source image and quoted text: The UGL course, information in English.

The course, Understanding Group and Leader (UGL), has been used as a basic leadership course within the Swedish Armed Forces for more than 20 years. It has also become popular and widespread outside the Swedish Total Defence Establishment.

The overall objective of the course is for the participants to become more effective as group members, leaders and trainers.

UGL provides training in how a group develops and matures over time, what happens in the group during the course of this development and what behaviour or actions promote or inhibit constructive development. Within UGL, this is referred to as group dynamics. The course also deals with the problems and possibilities of leadership related to the development of the group’s maturity, and what style of leadership will promote both task solving and group development.

Throughout the UGL course, learning occurs through experience of situations reflecting group dynamics and understanding your own role in these situations or dynamics. During this course you will have the opportunity to:
* participate in an experiential (experience based) learning model
* increase insight into your own personality
* learn to identify and to handle conflict
* learn to communicate in a direct and clear way
* learn to give and to receive effective feedback
* learn to recognize different phases of a group’s development
* understand that there is a need for different leadership styles
* increase self-confidence and self-insight

Course values
The course is built on these values:
* People are the most important resource in an organisation.
* Contact and cooperation between people in an organisation should be characterised by openness, trust and a feeling of solidarity. Attitudes and behaviour that can be seen as lacking respect for the dignity of others are not acceptable.
* The unity and the collective resources of a group are decisive whether or not and how the tasks will be completed. Knowledge and understanding of the interactions between people are therefore a condition of good leadership.
* Leadership is the manager’s ability to create the conditions that will allow co-workers’ personalities, knowledge, interests, power of initiative and willingness to cooperate, to be used to complete set tasks in the best way.

To this we add a clear value which stresses that every person is unique and has development potential. Uniqueness means that people are individual and are not interchangeable. The development potential is seen as an alternative to a more static view of people.

UGL includes opportunities for you to experience the processes of development and uniqueness – plus it is a real opportunity for you to be you.

Differences enrich, even in learning situations. The group should therefore be composed of people from as different categories as possible, differences in age, sex, professional background, etc. Within UGL variation is seen as beneficial to the learning process.

Aspects of Leadership at Øredev 2009

Thursday November 5 was the second day of Øredev 2009. I followed the track Aspects of Leadership which had this desciption:

Leadership is a fine balance between drive and the capability to efficiently and humanely manage people. The speakers invited to speak on this track have extensive experience of leadership in many different organizations and lines of business. You will learn to adjust your leadership style to reflect the circumstances you face, how to use coaching to improve collaboration in your projects and gain insight into the causes of destructive leadership behaviors.

The first session was No More Death by Meetings with Erik Lundh. The program said:

The Planning Pump is the emergent behavior observed for 10 years in and around agile teams that gets motivated to plan two weeks of work in just 60 minutes.

The essence of the presentation – as I understood it – was that if people know in advance what’s on the agenda (and that the meeting will only last 60 minutes) then they will prepare and connect in advance.

Next session was Understanding the origins of destructive leadership – Why bother with bad? with Leo Kant. The program said:

Studies explaining the causes of destructive leadership behaviors are very few. This presentation will cover two ongoing studies of such situational and individual antecedents of destructive leadership behaviors. One of the studies is conducted in a normal working environment. The second study investigates the antecedents of destructive leadership behavior in a crisis management simulation.

Leo Kant talked about constructive (good) leadership versus destructive (bad). Passive leadership is considered destructive. What’s interesting is that:
• Good and Bad are not opposites on the same scale.
• Bad and good co-exist.
• Bad is stronger than good.
• Most leaders do both.

My own presentation was titled Project success by helping project members realize their full potential and my core message was that Coaching brings out the best in individuals and in teams.

After me was Situational Leadership on Projects: Adopting Leadership Style to Conditions with J. Davidson Frame, PhD, PMP, Academic Dean at the University of Management and Technology, Arlington, Va. The program said:

On projects, you need to adjust your leadership style to reflect the circumstances you face.This presentation offers a framework for identifying appropriate leadership style, based on such factors as project size, time horizon, risk, complexity, novelty, and level of team cohesiveness. It also points out that you don’t need to have great charisma to be a good leader. Transactional leadership is often good enough. If you are really good at what you do, this will gain you followers.

We got an engaging introduction to Situational Leadership. He mentioned that Transformational leadership (think Martin Luther King) is 5% and Transactional leadership (think Jack Welch) is the remaining 95%.

Ending the track was Leif Dagsberg from Wenell Management AB who talked about ABC in Projects.

“A” stands for the activators and relates back to what actions we can take to make a preferred behavior happen. “B” is the behavior as a result of an activator. “C” means that we need to support the individual with consequences such as motivation. Psychological research tells us that If we want to change a Behavior, 80 % of the impact is related to our way of working with the Consequences of the changed behavior in comparison with working on different Activators.

Note! In the Archives at the Øredev site are videos from previous years. The 2009 videos will be there too.

The Tao of Coaching

The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg is an excellent book about coaching as a leader. The tagline on the book says Boost your effectiveness at work by inspiring and developing those around you which sums up coaching from the leaders perspective.

The books is described like this:

This book offers information on how to unlock the potential of people by applying the techniques of coaching. Coaching is the key to realising the potential of your employees, your organisation and yourself.

This book provides the techniques and tools of coaching that are vital for those who want to develop a team of people who will perform effectively and who will relish working with them.

The techniques and tools of coaching are integrated in the story about Alex and his career as manager. That makes it easier since you see them used in context.

The book lists these reasons why a manager shall use coaching:
• Create more time for yourself
• Achieve better results
• Build your interpersonal skills

If you want a great introduction to coaching as a leader, and a book you later can use as manual, I suggest that you buy The Tao of Coaching.

The Seven Generations Perspective

Vattenfall has been awarded the Climate Greenwash Awards 2009, probably not an award they desired.

Swedish energy company Vattenfall is a master of spin when it comes to climate change, portraying itself as a climate champion while lobbying to continue business as usual, using coal, nuclear power, and pseudo-solutions such as agrofuels and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

For more information about why they got the award, read Vattenfall – Nominated for branding problems as solutions.

The prize reminded me of a post in my Swedish blog, Vattenfall och indianfilosofi from May 22, 2008. The managing director of Vattenfall said that “According to Indian philosophy you should look six generations ahead.” It’s safe to say that if Vattenfall had fully understood that concept and had walked that talk they would not have recieved this award.

Newspapers questioned the six generation concept and I could not find anything about it either. But I did find several sources that mention seven generations ahead.

The Six Nations: Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth says that:

In making any law our chiefs must always consider three things: the effect of their decision on peace; the effect on the natural world; and the effect on seven generations in the future.

Oneida Indian Nation writes that:

Tradition also requires both the Nation’s leaders and its Members to consider the impact on the next seven generations when making decisions.

In the book The Manifestation Wheel it says that:

The elders of the Iroquois Confederacy councils taught that in our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.

I especially like the Six Nations version. What would happen if our decisionmakers did consider these three things:

  • the effect of their decision on peace
  • the effect on the natural world
  • the effect on seven generations in the future

Credit: Photo by Thiru Murugan.

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

Benjamin Zander on music and passion

One of my favourite TED Talks is Benjamin Zander: Classical music with shining eyes. Do not let the title fool you, the talk is about music and passion but also brings up leadership.

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections.

What stuck with me is his comments about when he considered that as a conductor he makes no sound. Instead his role is a leader, to have the ability to make other people powerful and to awaken possibilities in other people. Benjamin also says that a leader shall never doubt the capacity of the people he is leading.

Benjamin Zander mentions that he measures success in how many eyes are shining. My eyes were shining bright after watching this talk.

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

The Starfish and the Spider

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations is written by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckström. It is a very interesting book that compare two different kind of organizations but also mentions a hybrid or combo version, best of both.

Spiders are centralized, command and control, organizations. Historical examples are the Spanish army, the Aztecs and the Incas. Today most companies and organizations still work like this.

Starfish are decentralized with no hierarchy and no headquarters, an open system with no designated leader. An historical example listed in the book are the Apache indians. Modern examples are Craigslist, Wikipedia, Burning Man, AA, Skype, Kazaa and open source software like the Apache server.

An interesting part of the book is when they give examples of the spiders problems when they have to compete or combat against starfish. The Apache indians (starfish) managed to stand up against the Spanish army (spider) but the Incas and Azteks were spiders too and could be beaten. Todays music industry (spiders) fight against filesharing (starfish) and will most likely not win.

A hybrid approach means companies gain from both world, spider as well as starfish. There are examples of companies like eBay and Amazon that decentralize customer experience. And there are centralized companies like GE that decentralizes internal parts of the business.

If you want a quick look at some of what’s inside the book, see Lessons from a Starfish World.

There is a booksite at The Starfish and the Spider. Wikipedia also has a page about The Starfish And the Spider.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

The Responsibility Poem

Condensed version

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody couldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

The Responsibility Poem

Charles Osgood has written “The Responsibility Poem” which is the full length version. I found it at Charles Osgood on Responsibility

There was a most important job that needed to be done,
And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask
Is who exactly will it be who’ll carry out the task?

Anybody could have told you that Everybody knew
That this was something Somebody would surely have to do.
Nobody was unwilling; Anybody had the ability.
But Nobody believed that it was their responsibility.

It seemed to be a job that Anybody could have done,
If Anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.
But since Everybody recognized that Anybody could,
Everybody took for granted that Somebody would.

But Nobody told Anybody that we are aware of,
That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
And Nobody took it on himself to follow through,
And do what Everybody thought that Somebody would do.

When what Everybody needed so did not get done at all,
Everybody was complaining that Somebody dropped the ball.
Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
And Everybody looked around for Somebody to blame.

Somebody should have done the job
And Everybody should have,
But in the end Nobody did
What Anybody could have.

The condensed version was previously posted as “That’s Not My Job” at doodling, another blog of mine.