“The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.”
The last thing you expect to hear from a reflecting executive, who has worked with over 100 leadership teams in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, is that leadership work is humbling and inspiring. That was exactly Bernie Kelly’s response.
Bernie is renowned for setting up leaders and leadership teams and over the last 25-30 years has worked in strategy execution, with brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Golden Circle and Johnson & Johnson. This journey has led Bernie to share his learnings and research by writing the book ‘Traction: The 4 Practices of Change-Fit Leadership Teams’. This insight certainly is apt during a time when the world is evolving and teams are having to keep up with the dynamic around the speed of change.
Now just to be clear, the book hasn’t been released as yet, however Bernie has promised me a signed copy to add to my collection when it hits the shelves – you are all my witnesses!
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Over the last decade, knowledge has been turning over and going out of date at a quicker pace – five-year strategic plans are well and truly going out the window! Now 20th Century strategic execution assumptions don’t seem as relevant with technology and social changes accelerating the cycles. What Bernie has seen great success with is teams anticipating, adapting and thriving while working within his Change Fitness Ladder, a framework which draws on a parallel with physical fitness.
Physical fitness requires commitment, practice and discipline. These attributes are embedded in the Change Fitness Ladder as well as identifying that different teams have varying levels of change-fitness. There are multiple factors which assess your fitness such as strength, flexibility and endurance and in this week’s Podcast, Bernie aligns this with team fundamentals. He also emphasises the importance of inner work that team leaders should be doing on themselves, such as self-accountability and self-awareness, along with building the dynamic within the leadership team.
Teams are currently faced with the realities of COVID-19. Organisations with leadership teams who are change-fit have exposed the gaps, are building a platform for transformation, embracing the future and ‘shaping’ industries with new trends. They are leaning towards a more progressive approach and are going to make some “amazing stuff happen” this decade. Teams who are coasting along, maybe in more of a transactional space, complying with the board and avoiding issues they should be facing, have lost all change-fitness. These teams run the risk of collapsing and calling in the liquidators.
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Bernie draws on past experiences working within the ‘shaping’ level. He reflects on the good fortune of the 90’s where he was involved with retail teams, operating well ahead of the curve, during the transformation to ‘dial-up’, back in the day when there was no real ‘on-line’. During our conversation, Bernie delves into his experience around predicting a timeline for this ‘shaping’ period. He identifies time as only one point of the triangle, along with the importance of mindset and learning capability. He also explains the simple ‘at cause’ and ‘at effect’ exercise and why this is an important tool during the ‘expose’ phase.
Click here and take the opportunity to listen to Bernie as he reflects on his experiences and shares with us his wealth of knowledge. This week’s conversation is Part One and focuses on the ‘expose’ element, which is the first of Bernies key practices for change-fit leadership teams.
Keep an eye out for next week’s episode, Part Two of my conversation with Bernie, as we dive into the remaining three disciplines, explore, expand and exert, which are the key practices of change-fit leadership teams.