A New Line Where HR Departments Finish and New Leadership Starts?

People are everything. People come first. Happy people, better profits. Happy people, less costs. Happy people, more commitment. So, how do we, as business leaders, cause people to be happy?


The answer isn’t simple…


But what we do know is that happy people are essential to business growth and unhappy people blame their boss. So, the job of keeping people happy, is an integral part of leadership.


In the 80’s we created HR departments to hire in “happiness makers” – motivational speakers of all walks of life who would rouse the dead from their graves to stimulate roughly 3-4 weeks of improved productivity, fun and happiness before things slumped back into the status quo: Infighting, bursts of success and MBO, (Management by Objectives.) … another name for the pretext that “we care about you” however if you don’t hit target, you’re out. Stress levels went up, and performance improvement was sporadic at best. Tom Peters wrote his first best selling book.


In the 90’s we threw people off boats at sea, made executives abseil down buildings, created military like training camps and basically physicalised human development in one of the most discriminatory moves in corporate training history. The hidden agenda was “it’s war and if you don’t have the stomach for it, you will fail.” It worked for the blokes and women who were sporty and addicted to adrenalin, but that was a small fraction of the workforce. In this time, the “happiness makers” got more “scream and shout” in training, balloons burst, parties fed the alcohol culture and people got hurt. Tom Peters wrote his second best selling book stating that he was wrong in the first book.”


In the early 2000’s we empowered the HR departments around the world to step forward and do a brilliant job in Human Development and corporate change. These specialists had to deal with a new mindset where legal precedent meant that change in some aspects of human development were no longer optional. Law suits became the norm, behaviour had to change not only for happiness but for legal reasons. Culture’s needed to dispose of the “man cave” to really make an effort, both legally and culturally to engage equality. A topic we had given lip service to but had turned a blind eye to in reality. Business was filled with history and neanderthal behaviour was common in top leaders. It was a time for “self-help” soft skills to be taught to those who, unlike the Gen x and y, had no idea of their impact on others. “Happiness Makers” became story tellers, evangelists for social equalities, role models for change, and, powerfully convincing that equality was here to stay. HR led this charge and leaders stepped aside to ensure there were no blocks to it.


But now it’s time for a different model…


Accountability for “happiness making” now falls squarely on you for your direct reports. We’ve seen internal coaches come and go as they tried to offset the new duty of leadership. We’ve seen TED talks diversify because personal development is now personal, not generic. We’ve seen “happiness makers” go from party balloons to sports stars. The training system, sending in facilitators to large groups to indoctrinate a culture shift or self awareness in a group no longer works. The power is now back in the hands of the leader. At whatever level of a business, leaders must be skilled in Happiness Making, they must be objective in self help for individuals and they must, at a grass roots level, be capable of coaching. There is no longer, and it will never return, the need for subcontracting of training or coaching to external companies, now we are in the era of Train the Trainer.


How We Cause Personal Development Training In Corporate Cultures

I’ve been a “happiness maker” for 35 years. I’ve worked with Governments, Fortune 100 firms, Communities, Small and Large business and entrepreneurs to cause change.We started as a business turnaround consultancy, but we soon learnt that fast turnaround at a strategic and structural level was almost instantaneous but it was always challenged by the slow, almost hindering pace of culture. Business’ change fast, but culture’s split into two camps: those who blame the past and desperately love the idea of a new future and those who hate the future and desperately love the past. Both groups desperately hold onto something that blocks culture change.


Why Personal Development Needs to Evolve to Train the Trainer For New Leadership

Every Human Being is Unique and therefore Needs Unique Understanding. Only a Leader, direct report, relationship can bridge this tiny gap and why Leaders themselves need Chris Walker.


1# We Fluctuate

On Monday, after a weekend holiday we might feel like we’re on top of the world and “just love to” come to work. But on another Monday, after a bad weekend of disagreements with our family, we might come to work in a “got to” state of mind. A training camp held in May, when the weather is fine might find a group of “happiness seekers” enjoying nice food and good sales, and yet, in August it can all go to hell and back. Only the leader can keep their finger on the pulse of a human culture. Individually it is hard to look in the mirror and see truth. We do need a person to reflect back to us how we are functioning, the worst of whom is our spouse and the second worse is the group facilitator who met us for a weekend last June. Personal accountability needs externality, and this must be objective, with continuity, and daily. Hence, direct report or external coach.


2# We are Human

We can compartmentalise a meeting, a sporting event, a fight at home or some health issue for a few hours, no problem. But to pretend that we can compartmentalise things that are going wrong, unhappiness or pain in one area of life from our behaviour and performance in another area of life is ridiculous and so a part of the 80’s man cave culture, it’s almost laughable. We are human. We feel. Stuff that happens at home migrates to our attitude, mood, energy, investment, commitment, behaviour and loyalty at work. Corruption is a virus that starts in one place and eventually burns all it touches. Hence, sitting in a corporate retreat one can isolate their family life or unhappiness so as not to open pandora’s box in front of those who judge. As a result, personal development in a corporate environment, with non volunteers who didn’t pay for or solicit feedback at a private level is impossible. Almost farcical. Personal development means total human awareness, trust, respect for the intent of the leader and an investment in it. Hence, for leaders, training in coaching by being coached externally to the firm (read here non judgemental, objective, holistic and educated) is essential for good leadership.


3# We Evolve

I’ve spent my life living in monasteries, climbing mountains, studying personal development, graduating from universities, running a culture change business, helping millions of people change, and yet, I haven’t changed. My looks have changed, I’ve aged. My expectations have changed, I’ve experienced life. Some of my behaviours have changed, I know I had to change that to stay relevant in life. But I haven’t changed. I’m Chris Walker, super hero, or not. I’m still as tall as I was when I was five years old, or so it feels. I’m still as smart as I was when I was ten years old, or so it feels. I’m still as athletic as I was at fifteen. And I’m still as eager for love and intimacy as I was when I was twenty. I haven’t changed at all. I’ve simply evolved.


This is a beautiful awareness. We are not who we were. We are not who we are going to be. But we do not change. We evolve. It’s not about the books we read, the knowledge we gain the paradigms we follow like yoga or meditation or anything. We evolve when we walk and talk without thinking about it. We are different, but anything we call change, isn’t change, it’s just temporary delusion. Individuals, leaders, evolve – grow, but hardly know that they are different. Teams can change because the collective can be made more important than the individual. Individuals evolve, results change.


It is therefore impossible to bring a group to a collective personal development point of common start and finish. Personal development can be taught, the process taught, but the application must be in context, individually and will never be the same twice.

Tapping into the start point for an individual to evolve means exploring “unhappiness” for that person and becoming a “happiness maker” one heart at a time. That’s my job, that’s why I believe that train the trainer is the perfect process for creating internal “happiness makers” for corporate and team culture change.

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