Leadership development

Organizational success depends on capable leaders

Most managers are keenly aware that what most persistently threatens the success of their projects are human (not technical) problems.

In 2013, I asked 60 experienced managers what challenges they were facing in their organization, which had a clear negative impact on organizational performance and bottom line, and which they had been unable to solve for a prolonged period of time – sometimes years. These managers worked in a broad range of industries, both public and private sector, and at all levels of the organization from team leaders to CEOs and partners.

None of the managers mentioned traditional business challenges, such as, of developing new competitive products or services, gaining bigger market shares, reducing costs or waste, managing liquidity, monitoring performance, or handling disruptive technological or social changes. Instead, they all mentioned challenges related to understanding and collaborating with people – including with themselves. The kind of challenges they mentioned was:

  • How can I keep the internal fire in R&D employees – and still make them finish projects when they lose interest in these projects?
  • How can I do the long-term planning and not get caught in the here-and-now tasks?
  • How can I make researchers, with contractual freedom to research what they want, relate to the institute’s vision and mission?
  • How can we make sure my employees do not leave the company (and form a competing company) after we have spent resources developing them?
  • How can I make employees feel they are doing a good job, in situations where the employees know they could do much more if they had more resources?
  • How can I justify asking employees to help create automated work processes, which eventually will make these same employees redundant?
  • How can I manage uncooperative employees with rare skills whom I would not be able to replace?

Changing the place from which you act

The above problems can be addressed by leaders developing strong co-creation skills and skills in community building. Co-creation skills include the ability to listen with respect while suspending preconceived assumptions and the ability to capture and put words to what emerges here and now in the meeting between people. Community building skills include the ability to make groups of people feel that they are welcome, appreciated and have both influence and responsibility.

In CoCreation, we do not work with five-step recipes for developing the above capacities. Instead, we work with changing the inner place from which leaders act so that the above abilities follow naturally and effortlessly.

In the program, we will work with developing:

  1.  The ability to have a fruitful dialogue with people whose view and values are opposed to your own
  2. The ability to be patient and perseverant without effort
  3. The ability to act with strength, courage, and directness without aggression
  4. The ability to feel and radiate peace in the midst of turmoil or conflict
  5. The ability to have empathetic and kind understanding while maintaining demands for high performance
  6. The ability to be spontaneous, light, and optimistic without being superficial
  7. The ability to look at a well-known challenge with fresh eyes
  8. The ability to detect when your taken-for-granted assumptions lead to inefficient action

Methods for developing leadership qualities

The methods we use involve reading and discussing the newest research, contemplative techniques, guided meditation, and working with art. The methods we use are grounded in cognitive science research – in particular in Cognitive Metaphor Theory, the embodied view of cognition, and research in interoception.

I have described the theoretical underpinnings of the work in my book: Sensory Templates and Manager Cognition.

How to sign up for the program

New groups start continuously. If you are interested in participating, you can apply to the program by writing a mail to claus@cocreation.dk briefly describing your management experience and the most important challenges you are currently facing as manager.

Groups will be designed to create a strong, supportive and challenging environment for developing your leadership qualities.