Thursday, January 7, 2016

Why Martial art is the Key to Value based Leadership?

I am frequently asked ‘which style of martial art should I enroll?
Martial arts
An important question and decision to make for those that ask. Thus, long ago, I have already prepared an answer which mostly ‘disappoints’ the people asking me:

If you are to climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro would you ask  “What is the Best Route to Climb Kilimanjaro?”

Might be yes to the above or might be no!


‘Yes’ if you can define what ‘best’ means to you and ‘no’ if you already have knowledge about the mountain.

As one would expect there are several routes by which you can reach Kibo or Uhuru Peak, the highest summit of Mount Kilimanjaro: Machame, Marangu, Mweka, Londorossi Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Umbwe and Northern Circuit. They all differ in something but at the same time they all provide the same final aim or goal - ‘to reach the top’.

All routes lead to the top. Why then do we need so many? The primary issue lies within a person that wants to reach the peak. Are we able to do it fast, slow or we’d like to have panorama views or (most probably) we need altitude acclimatization schedule!

Therefore, personal preferences are different and consequently different routes satisfy them.
The same is with martial arts. Some arts are slower (Tai Chi), some are more brutal (MMA), others more lethal (sambo). But, eventually, all are having the same meaning – to acquire martial arts knowledge and experience to fight and to protect. Therefore it is ours to get the proper fit for ourselves.

Within years of practice I’ve learned that there is also another issue that I’d like to share. It illustrates even deeper the aim of the Kilimanjaro story above. Namely, if we carefully watch great martial art’s masters we could definitely see very similar postures, movements and use of the fighting techniques. In majority of martial arts it actually does not matter from which school or style they came. They present the peak of martial arts’ knowledge – like Uhuru for Kilimanjaro. And the ‘routes’ (style of martial art) they took to master it could have been very different ones!

Why is this so?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Does the answer lay in sustainable development leadership?

I upgraded the classic Einstein quote ‘We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them’ by adding ‘with the same people!’ To me it seems particularly relevant to sustainability challenges needed in todays’ world.
Critical thinking
Prior to argue it let me first describe what sustainable development is?

Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report:

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
  • the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.

I rationale that we should aim to achieve this necessary different approach to be able to change the devastating path we are currently on and as a contrast to today mostly used economy and leadership.

In my previous posts I have already described my concerns about neo-liberal economy approach, private ownership, different views (names of) current leadership tactics. Now we are just a few weeks past the COP21 in Paris on global climate changes that draw a commitment to ‘pursue efforts’ (not to take actions) to keep the temperature increase to only 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – admittedly, a formidable technical and political flowery phrase.

Unfortunately, this is not enough anymore! We are in need for a completely different attempt than we see today – like Einstein said.


SustainabilitySustainabilityAs already Al Gore, in his foreword to the book World changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century, pointed out that a shift where individuals join together to create a “turning point in human civilization ... that requires great moral leadership and generational responsibility … to build that future, we need a generation of everyday heroes, people who — whatever their walks of life is — have the courage to think in fresh new ways and to act to meet this planetary crisis head-on.

For this we need very unique and changed leaders than they are today and beside that much more conscious followers!

From the first conference on climate change in Tokyo back in 1987 a lot has changed but not enough has been done. While the international community and the politicians continue the talks on sustainable development and green economy time passes and pollution, poverty, destruction of our planet, depletion of natural resources have gone almost beyond the point of no return.

What we see today is the current leadership, depletion of resources and pollution not slowing but rising. The gap to sustainability is real and urgent, especially because complex problems we face require innovative /different thinking and networked / civilization(s) actions lead by such (new) leaders. And yes, not just those on the top positions but a whole generation needs to be inspired, motivated and engaged to think and act in a way that matches the scale of the challenge.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Things Agility Can Teach Us About Leadership

More and more we hear about ‘agility’ in project management, agility leadership, agility in martial arts and canine agility …

dog agilityWhat exactly is agility?

Dog’s agility, easiest to explain, is a competitive sport in which a dog is directed through obstacles in a course that is timed and watched for accuracy. Easy that one!?

Let’s frame what is ‘agile project management’ - it refers to iterative and incremental method of managing the design and to build activities in a project with aim to provide new product or service in a highly flexible and interactive manner. A bit harder?

martial art agilityFurther, we find that agility training is fundamental to any (great) martial artist as well. In martial arts it is definitely true that some genetics play an important role in the development of agility; nevertheless, with the adequate practice anybody can improve his/her agility. That’s understandable.

Going even deeper to define agility we meet the use of the word ‘agility’ in leadership, too. What does it mean? Leadership agility is a mastery competency needed for sustained success in today’s complex, fast-paced, business environment. Such a leader has the ability and/or agility to operate in any manner and to think and react in a number of different ways. Does this sound more complicated?

Seeing very different connotations and the use of the same term, let’s pose a question – “How could we suggest a common denominator and explain it?”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Insecurity drains the life out of employees

Not long ago a majority of workers worked for the same company for 20, 30 or more years. It was a normal occurrence. At the time many of my friends were asking me how can I shift so much and so easily from one employer to another? That was easy enough, since nothing was “pushing me” out of a company except my curiosity and new, different challenges. Same as today? No, not the same here. Those were different times and different society back then.

In 2014 Hewlett-Packard only eliminated 34,000 jobs, while JP Morgan Chase has cut 20,000 from its workforce and JC Penney and Sprint announced cuts … In '70s and '80s, not so long ago, a modification of labor market began and we were able to observe anti-worker policies forming up. Nowadays a new business model (not so new any more) is disentangling the ties between employers and employees, fueling the perception that it is good to have employment flexibility.

In today’s business spheres where results of globalization, outsourcing, contracting, downsizing, recession and even natural disasters are all together killing ‘a job security’, how does one deal with such uncertainties?

InsecurityIt is well known that people can deal with short bursts of pressure pretty good, but that chronic uncertainty throws them in a vicious cycle of stress and fear. According to the research done by Stuart Whitaker at the University of Cumbria, having an insecure job has a more damaging impact on people's health than actually losing a job.

When we do not know whether we’ll have a job next year or, even worse, next week, how do we plan the life? Could we consider a loan to buy a house, start family or save for college or save for retirement? In the face of job insecurity, thoughts like these bring only panic and more pressure. Can we still spend with easiness if we are so insecure for the jobs we have?

When people fear that the world around them will fall apart, when our future becomes foggy, when feelings of powerlessness paralyze us, we tend to start to flip out. We pile on more work than we can handle, we are afraid to take sick leaves. Some people start to function on drugs, coffee, cigarettes, alcohol and other substances.  We drop everything that is good for us – we stop to care for our physical well-being, we stop practicing, we do not have fun with friends or have and enjoy vacations and so on.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Why ownership matters?

I was reading the article The Seven Deadly Sins of Economic Liberalism a friend of mine Lucas Juan Manuel kindly sent to me. The article describes private ownership that generates wealth as:
Economic liberalism triggers a socio-economic system based mainly on financial speculation jointly with inappropriate economic measures and structural/social reforms.  Let’s take Euro area as an example.  The EU implemented painful austerity measures in order to reduce the high level of government debt in many country members.  But it was, and still is, a wrongly-conceived austerity
There are many ‘enterprises and entrepreneurs’ arising from political clientelism (crony-ism and patronage), and those kind of enterprises and entrepreneurs do not generate wealth and prosperity in our societies because they are not competitive.  This kind of capitalism is deeply disappointing for the real entrepreneurial spirit (genuine enterprises).
 In this way, wealth, well-being and prosperity are being concentrated in the hands of a few and the income gap between a country's richest and poorest people enlarges dramatically. “Obviously, this way of capitalism is inherent to political corruption and prevents equal opportunities in the economic and social spheres.”
Personal ownershipAlthough somehow hidden, ownership nevertheless matters in all the above described topics. There are different approaches to ownership of a property. The question is whether all of them are sustainable for the advancement of a society as a whole?

Let’s define different ownerships and their (potential) effects.

‘Personal ownership’ is where assets and property is belonging to an individual, also known as individual ownership. Contrary, the ‘collective ownership’ assets and property belongs to a collective body of people who control their use and collect the proceeds of their operation. Very similar is ‘common ownership’ (or non-ownership) where assets and property are held in common by all members of society. Any country owns property (‘state ownership’) where assets are state owned or owned by certain state agency consequently having jurisdiction over in terms of use. And finally, assets owned by a government or a state and available for public use to all their constituents are called ‘public property’.