Anrah News - February 2016
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"Know Thyself"

20 years ago, a survey was published to understand the secrets of business success in the UK. Researchers interviewed a number of high achieving CEOs - all men - to discover what they had in common apart from gender. Were they agile communicators? Acute strategic visionaries?  Persuasively charming and charismatic? No. Not at all. Eventually after much thought, the researchers reached their conclusion: each knew their limitations.

The greatest asset to a leader is self-knowledge. Knowing your strengths, values, motivations, behaviour and especially limitations means you make better decisions. Indeed a recent study in 2010 by Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations found a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success. “Executives who are aware of their weaknesses are often better able to hire subordinates who perform well in areas in which the leader lacks acumen.” 

Self knowledge takes effort and courage. It's a readiness to take responsibility - essentially, to grow up. No longer do you see yourself as a dependent employee who's at the mercy of others' decisions. You have embarked on a trajectory into leadership. You take ownership. You think strategically. You ask, "How can I improve on this? How can add my contribution to the organisation?"

In a McKinsey article on Leadership in the 21st century, “Change leader, change thyself”, Boaz and Fox state that no real change happens in an organisation without it.

"Learning to lead yourself requires you to question some core assumptions about yourself and the way things work.........This integration of looking both inward and outward is the most powerful formula we know for creating long-term, high-impact organizational change."

According to Harvard Business Review, there are 3 key qualities to foster self awareness as a leader:

  1. Test and know yourself better: Take aptitude tests, find out your Myers Briggs personality type, recognise your leadership style - take the Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test to find out which core trait drives your decisions and your attitude. This is what is most important for increasing the probability for success. Do all you can to understand your motives, values and drivers. 
  2. Watch yourself and learn: Peter Drucker advocates what he calls feedback analysis. He suggests that when you take a key decision, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the results with what you expected. Many successful people such as Warren Buffet do this. Buffet also includes in his note to self why he has taken the decision. This gives qualitative and quantitative results - you focus on the what and also the why of the historic decision.
  3. Be aware of others: Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses makes you more likely to be sensitive to the differences in others. You recruit a more dynamic and effective team. Successful teams are diverse and complementary. Collaborative teams who have a common goal and a supportive learning environment become powerful business builders. 
Mary Anning (1799 - 1847) self taught fossil hunter, dealer and palaeontologist came from a working class family. She was poor all her life and had no access to the vote, couldn't hold public office or go to university because she was a woman. Yet thanks to her extensive learning and discoveries, she challenged the accepted biblical account of creation and laid the foundations for Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

Anning and her brother were the sole survivors into adulthood of 10 siblings.Their house was sited close to the sea in Lyme Regis. During one great storm, the family had to crawl out of a back bedroom window to escape the flooding. When she was 15 months, her remarkable intelligence and lively curiosity were attributed to the miraculous survival from being struck by lightening.

Life was hard for the poor. Bread prices were so high that rioting was widespread and Anning's father frequently took his children out fossil hunting along 'the Jurassic coast' at Lyme (now a World Heritage Site) to supplement his income as an upholsterer. This was risky since the best fossils were discovered in the stormy winter months under hanging cliffs before the sea could destroy them. Indeed later in 1833 Anning barely escaped death when her beloved dog Tray was buried by a landslip close to her feet. Anning's father died when she was 11. However, thanks to Anning's skill and dedication, already she was producing outstanding finds that gave her family an income. At 12 years for instance she discovered the complete skeleton of the first Ichthyosaurus to have been found.

She became known in geological circles throughout Europe and North America and eventually set up a small shop to sell her findings. Prominent geologists visited her. Even King Augustus Frederick of Saxony bought an ichthyosaur skeleton from her in person for his natural history collection. Women were not allowed to join the Geological Society of Great Britain although many consulted and accompanied her on her fossil hunts. Gentlemen geologists claimed discoveries and wrote them up in scientific journals without acknowledging they had been found or identified by Anning.

At 40 years old, the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the British government were persuaded to award her a civil list pension for her contributions to science. When she was dying of cancer in 1846, the self same Geological Society that barred her, raised funds to support her and contributed to a stained glass window in the local church in her memory after her death.

In 2010, Mary Anning was chosen as one of the 10 most influential women of science by the Royal Society. Many British children only know of her thanks to a tongue twister:
She sells seashells on the seashore
The shells she sells are seashells, I'm sure
So if she sells seashells on the seashore
Then I'm sure she sells seashore shells.
My associate, Chris Hoggarth and I are in the middle of delivering our programme of  "Business Training for Researchers" at Oxford University's Institute of Biomedical Engineering. One of our students, Ben Villard (third from the left) has just won £10,000 for pitching his business idea at Oxford Entrepreneurs Idea Idol Competition - a smart IV monitor for hospitals. He was generous enough to say that my colleague's help in realistically pricing his product contributed to his winning pitch.
Thanks to enthusiastic support, there will be another “Stand Out from the Crowd: Leadership and Gravitas Training” workshop:

 Friday April 1st 2016 
Where: at my office at  Sandford Gate, Eastpoint Business Park, Oxford.

Time: 10am and 5pm

You will be helped to find the gravitas that inspires respect, become aware of your leadership qualities and how to lead with gravitas. Lunch is provided. To book
We'll be a maximum of five attendees - and already 2 places have been allocated. If you want to find out more detail please email me or give me a ring on 07939 261743. 
Do you want coaching and training on developing:
  • credibility
  • gravitas
  • influence
  • increased reach
  • stakeholder buy-in
  • leadership authority
Please email me or call 07939 261743 to discuss your objectives for yourself or your leadership team and how I could help you achieve them.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Copyright © 2015 Anrah, All rights reserved.

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