Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

It’s a two person job!

Having brunch at the weekend with friends, we got to discussing parenting and how it’s really a two person job. Expecting one person to handle it all doesn’t work. And as for single mums who work, they’re really doing 3 jobs at once. No wonder they are exhausted.

I do believe that two is more powerful than one. And I think we might be getting our numbers wrong on an important issue that impacts in HR.

Why are all leadership roles 1 person jobs?

I wrote a blog about the Power of Two a couple of years ago which I’ll share again below. I didn’t go as far in saying what I’m about to say and it’s this: I don’t think that managers and leaders should be going it alone. It’s not realistic that someone is both commercial/results focused and also big picture/creative. Those are two completely different skills sets/personality styles and I think it’s a very small pool of people who can do both.

However as with parenting, if you partnered up two people to lead a team or a company, each bringing those different skills – I think you’d have a much more effective business.

The Green Party do it.

And now so does Elephant.

Yes we’ve changed our structure. Lisa Hunter, who has been our fantastic GM of HR Consulting is taking some time to work on an exciting new project – so is stepping out of her role. She’ll continue as a Business Consultant in our team. But Fraser and myself will move into a new shared CEO role. We’re going to try and utilize our strengths to deliver far more than the position would normally deliver.

And our team have changed their job titles to Business Consultants – because actually HR is business.

Will the power of two work? We’ll keep you updated!

As for my old blog, here it is again.

The Power of Two

What does it take to create a successful business?

Could it be the Power of Two that makes the difference? And how can you tap into this?

I’m not talking about just any successful business, but some of the most successful in the world. I believe for many of these there is one key ingredient to their achievements and that ingredient is the Power of Two.

Could Steve Jobs have created Apple without Steve Wozniak? (Or vice versa?)

Could Mark Zuckerberg have created Facebook without Eduardo Savarin?

But it’s not just technology companies. Heinz was founded by Henry J Heinz and Clarence L Noble. GE formed when Thomas Edison who had started Edison General Electric merged with Charles Coffins business, Thomson-Houston Electric Company which owned a number of competitors and their key patents. In fashion Gianni Versace always had Donnatella involved in the business. In music Elton John and Bernie Taupin created some of the most memorable songs ever. John and Paul? Or John and Yoko?

Of course, there are entrepreneurs who have gone it completely alone. But is it realistic that one person will have every skill and attribute necessary to succeed? Most of the time, no. But if you pair up with someone who compliments your skill set and challenges and drives you – then the Power of Two comes alive!

How does this apply to us?

Companies have a CEO or MD, however if the power of two is true, then they shouldn’t be going it alone. They need to have at least one other person with a different and complimentary skill set to really make sure they are creating the business outcomes needed.

Often this may be by having a business coach (although many CEO’s don’t seem to think this is a competitive advantage), but often it will be one of the senior leadership team. Occasionally you read about the CEO’s right hand ‘man’ being their HR Director, but more often than not it’s the CFO. Because often the CEO has to provide vision, and they need someone with the detail.

What I believe is that we need to move past FUNCTION and into THINKING. Our senior leadership teams need to have a variety of different ways of thinking that challenge and compliment the CEO to create the power of two (or three, or four!!).

There still needs to be some business experience there. I worked with a leadership team who had all been assigned divisions they had no experience of. They got along great but without any depth of knowledge they ran the business into the ground and several lost their jobs. Another leadership team were incredibly experienced technically in the divisions they managed but all thought the same way and there was no strategic decisions made.

How do you tap into this?

I think we need to take the following actions:

  • CEO’s need to have a mentor/coach/second in command who thinks differently to them, who brings different skills and experience so they can challenge and coach and create the Power of Two.
  • Leadership teams need to be more diverse in their thinking and select people for this rather than just a role. This is where I think diversity has gone wrong focusing on gender and ethnicity. There are some great tools to use to map what the different thinking styles are in your leadership team including: Belbin’s high performance team model, HBDI, MBTI, DISC or other personality profiles, Edward do Bono’s thinking hat or Hofstede’s cultural dimensions
  • Individuals (whatever role we’re in) should also find someone who is their coach, or clarifier or challenger. When I’m writing books I have the best editor in the world – my fantastic husband. Was it hard to hear the things he thought needed changing? Yes! Were his comments valid? Completely? Were my books better for his feedback? I’d say about 2000% better now I look at my first draft and the completed edition.

So get out there and tap into the Power of Two and who knows where it will take you! 


One comment on “It’s a two person job!

  1. Pingback: It’s a two person job! | insideHR

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This entry was posted on February 23, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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