AMSTERDAM LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME
Individual Assignment by Remco Frijling
Date: January 31, 2016
Being an entrepreneur and not being part of a corporate hierarchy, in other words ‘ being off the grid' has a different starting point when you look at Leadership aspects and challenges than when you're part of a coorporation. As a ZZP-er or independent contractor I see myself more as the independent agent getting ready for the new ‘Gigster' economy where individual founders are competing for gigs. The information revolution is breaking down (international) communication barriers and is reversing the industrial revolution. The optimal size of the firm is shrinking rapidly. The future is all about building individual brands. I'm an individual founder competing in this new world and have to stay competitive no matter what. Without the relative protection of a big corporate's safety net. It means being intrinsically motivated, hard work, wanting to learn every day and staying one step ahead of change. In the next two chapters I will first discuss three of my core quality quadrants in chapter 1 and then discuss my leadership challenge in chapter 2. It was a fun doing this assignment which helped me doing of preparing the important work of being one step ahead of future developments in the job market in The Netherlands.
1. My Core quality Quadrants
For the first part of the assignment I have created 3 different core quality quadrants for myself
1.1 Core quality quadrant – Enterpreneur
One of my constant allergies is when you notice something could be done must faster and better for everybody but red tape and defined rules are preventing progress. Specific recent example is when I was preparing my mother's house to be transferred back to the woningbouw corperatie. New potential renters were happy to take over beautiful decorations in the house but non of them were accepted by the landlord during the one month notice period. Resulting in a big project of taking all decorations out and destroying capital for us and the new renters.
Impact at that moment
Total frustration and allergy towards the people that stick to their rules and processes even when agreeing the rules didn't make any sense but still not moving an inch.
The insight I get when applying Daniel Ofman's Core Quality Quadrant model is when I move from the allergy ‘red tape mindset/bureaucracy ‘in the opposite direction I end up with my core quality entrepreneurship which when taken too far will become rule breaking or orthogonal thinking
The learning opportunity in this particular case is looking at the good supplement arrow from entrepreneurial/rule break thinking towards more process thinking. In cases like this I could try to better understand their point of view. Starting with questions on how their process and rule based approach works for them. On the other hand I can develop a more process driven mindset myself .
Being aware of my allergy, keep calm and use the insights learned when they the allergy happens.
1.2 Core quality quadrant – Methodical
My allergy for people being not being succinct and to the point so that they are wasting my time. Example of which are conference calls or meetings where people don't get to the point and like to hear themselves talk. My allergy is especially towards the time that is wasted on non relevant data or repetitions.
Situations like these don't feel good and are giving me the perception that the people in the meeting are not competent enough to move forward quickly and holding back progress.
My impatience is not helping the team to progress by me judging the situation and not talking about the meta communication aspects of it.
Running through the diagram above shows that in my opinion the opposite of my allergy is being methodical which in extreme form could be explained as being dull. The positive opposite of that is being creative. I should use being more creative as a good supplement to being methodical.
Next time I encounter people that are not to the point I will look for creative lines of thinking and also start developing creative thinking processes.
1.3 Core quality quadrant - Calm
In my ecosystem of individual contractors and temporary assignments I collaborate in different and changing teams. In some situations I work in roles that are part of an existing organizational hierarchy and get work delegated to myself. The allergy I have in this case is micro managed tasks where everything is prescribed in detail.
Impact at the moment
The impact is that I not feel motivated to do anything when people prescribe everything in details.
My core quality of being calm and keeping room for independent thinking conflicts with micro management which come across as being pushy. If this quality goes too far it could be perceived as being passive for which the positive opposite is being driven
Being calm has a good supplement of being more driven.
Going forward when being confronted with micro managed tasks I will transfer to a more driven approach and showing enthusiasm about the task at hand.
2. Leadership Challenge
Importance of my leadership challenge
My leadership challenge was to work on my personal independent branding resulting in being a key person of influence.
I'm 50+ and have to make sure I am competitive in the individual contractor gig market. The optimal size of businesses is shrinking from thousands to hundreds to a few and ultimately to one. I think in our hearts we are all founders, meant to work for ourselves. We are not meant to be in hierarchies or to follow.
The job market is changing and It is important for me to be ready by strengthening my current position in being off the grid.
Why is this an area that I need to work on?
We live in a time of business and career extinction. On the other hand there is also massive opportunity in it for my business and personal development when this trend can be used and transformed into personal and business growth.
To start my thinking about my leadership challenge I challenged myself to think about what I do and filled in the blanks of the following statement:
The world needs……… The world does not need………
In the next paragraphs I'm giving a number of examples of how I see the world is changing and how it relates to
my leadership challenges
“Fintech” is exploding globally. Many banks are funding incubator hubs where Fintech start-ups doing their utmost, trying to, wait for it,to put the banks out of business. Bill Gates explained it a few years ago: “The world needs banking. The world does not need banks”. So the banks are smartly making sure they have a stake in anything that is likely to change the rules, and cannibalise their core business.
The world needs advertising. The world does not need advertising agencies. The world needs marketing, the world does not need marketeers. And on it goes: needs insights/does not need researchers… needs rooms to stay in when you are away from home/does not need hotels. ‘on demand' transport on the roads/does not need taxis or limos. commercial aviation/travel agents… recruitment/recruiters…
If I put what my industry does in the first space; providing go-to-market support, and then my role in the second; business/market developers , I'm taking a deep breath and my heart is beating a little faster.
In the last two months I worked on a path that will let me stay one step ahead of change and help me become a key person of influence. During a brainstorm with people close to me in my family and business ecosystem I came up with a number of steps to achieve my challenges.
Here are the key steps I envisioned that would help me to reach my goals to stay one step ahead of change:
1. Make sure I'm ‘available' and prepared to keep changing and evolving my offer. What got me here won't get me there!
2. “The one skill you want to master in this day and age we live in… is the ability to learn rapidly. Becoming a brilliant and fast learner is key even in my age. That's also why I took on the challenge of starting in the MBA programme.
3. During our session in Mennerode I realized and noted the following down in my black notebook: ‘my leverage is my experience. What I know is of real value to others as I noticed from my discussions with my buddy Jawad. Consequently what I can do more is to build my experience further, pushing myself to the front, put my hand up, take responsibility, push, push'. As opposed to my core quality calm mentioned in chapter 1 and as apparent from the quadrant analysis this is an area where I can develop myself further.
4. And start working on a structured plan to become a key person of influence in my specialisation.
In line with what I described in point 4 above I defined 5 steps to becoming a key person of influence:
1. Clarity: get very clear on my elevator pitch about ME, and what I bring. What's my bumper sticker? This is what I do. This is what I bring to the party. As a follow up to this point I will attend the lecture on Personal Branding by Roger Proppers on February 5th.
2. Credibility: publish my content. My leverage is my experience and I should write it up. Articles. Blog posts. Good things come from publishing( at least that's what I hear). Follow up action point is to work with Bas van Essen who is a journalist and blog writer to define an actionplan to make this happen
3. Scalability: in time, this means ‘productising' what I do in a way that is scalable and continuous. I'm currently expanding by focusing on diversifying my skill set(business development, big data and cybersecurity). I have to keep pushing deeper, and broader.in order to have more strings to my bow.
Follow up plan: creating a new data product as part of my MBA thesis.
4. Visibility: publishing content will help. Also l want to look for opportunities to give speeches, write thought leadership articles, be quoted in relevant trade press. Pushing myself to the front.
5. Connectivity: partner, collaborate, align, build your networks. The most powerful trigger to building my influence is giving my time to help others. A great starting point is buddying Jawad.
Biases, Habits and time are the main obstacles in the way of completing my challenge.
Habits are everything. From young age we are trained in habits turning into behaviour that integrates in ourselves. I'm probably a collection of thousands of habits running subconsciously in the background leaving a little bit of extra brainpower in the neo cortex for conscious thinking.
To be conscious about my good and bad habits. Discarding bad habits and picking up good habits is something I worked on more consciously in last two months . Getting rid of one bad habit ever six months is a great habit to develop.
After your workshops I know which cognitive biases are out there so I can now let them both work for me and against me. Learning about the common biases and the ones I'm most sensitive to, I can start changing my bad habits or picking up good ones. I my case I'm mostly using excessive optimism and confirmation bias. So instead of being very optimistic about a project I will be more realistic in e.g. taking smaller steps and standardizing (making it hassle free) instead of taking one big excessive optimistic step.
Time is an obstacle in a sense that at my age time has a high discount rate. The marginal value of each day goes up with my age. On the one hand I have to keep developing myself and on the other I have to take notice of my time and be balanced with regards to family, friends, physical health, mental health, work and study.
Resources and help
I'm a great fan of Stoic philosophers like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. It's the ideal operating system for surviving high stress environments and that's why it created a huge foothold in Silicon Valley, professional sports teams and leaders like Bill Clinton etc. I'm constantly using their views on life, success and thinking processes as a guideline to stay competitive, happy and healthy, by living in the moment, with less fear and more love.
Furthermore I'm working and have been working on my morning routines. When you win the morning you also win the day.
What I have worked on is to achieve efficacy. Doing the right things at the start of the day consisting of 5 activities that will help me win the day.
1. Making my bed. First task of the day is a task that I can control and when going back to bed perceive as a completed task.
2. Meditate for 15 minutes with the help of an app. called Headspace
3. Drinking a nice tea or coffee and having a low carb breakfast
4. Write in my 5 minute journal which improved my well being and happiness
5. Reality check. Every morning I think and determine which 3-5 unfinished tasks make me most anxious or uncomfortable. I select the one that makes me most uncomfortable and I ask myself two questions.
a. If this were the only thing I accomplish today, would I be satisfied with my day?
b. Will moving this forward make all the other to do's irrelevant or easier to do. Is this a force multiplier?
c. Block out 2 hours and work on the selected to do item till finished
I have read Robert Cialdini's book Influence and I'm practicing the principles daily
Last important helpful connecting resource is sticking to a disciplined lifestyle which if done correctly and consistently will give me so much more freedom of mind and body.
Commitment to work on my challenge was facilitated by my internal motivation to be successful with my business. The progress I made was checked daily during my morning habit during to which I also hold myself accountable for the results I achieved in my journal
Continuous learning is even more important when you are getting older. Rapidly learning and building new skills like happiness, dietary skills, self awareness, meditation and learning how to learn are making sure that my personal brand has the best foundation.
The teachings of the Stoic philosophers and Stoicism are a great operating system for me in a dynamic and often stressful world. Seeing the world as is and not stressing too much, not living the life others determine for you and knowing that in the end everything will be fine. Also live in the present, enjoy what's there and what you have with less fear and more love.
The impact of living a disciplined life with a standardized morning ritual has increased my productivity and happiness in a significant way.
What I still have to do more of is the credibility and visibility part mentioned in chapter 2. I did a 30 minute presentation in the Law&Ethics class which was well received. I do have to talk at MeetUps and conference more often.
Furthermore I will have to work on my writing skills and started with reading ‘The day I became a better writer' by Scott Adams and 1000 true fans by Kevin Kelly.
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