Leadership is multifaceted and there are hundreds of assessments to measure differing aspects. We use assessments in three ways:
1. For development purposes, to increase understanding of self and others
2. To understand teams better
3. For recruitment and selection purposes, to predict positive role fit
We use a blend of assessments that identify fixed personality trait and type strengths (flat) such as Hogan, MBTI and FIRO-B, or that offer a ‘snapshot’ in time with potential to grow and improve, such as LSI, Barrett CVA and Strengthscope.
Psychologist, Robert Hogan argues that personality is irrelevant because we all have one – what matters is the reputation that it gets us! We find this pragmatic and practical when it comes to thinking about predicting the reputation and performance an individual is likely to be associated with over time. We use Hogan Assessment Systems and applications of ‘The Science of Personality’ for four purposes:
1. To increase self-understanding and awareness to be at ones best
2. To increase the chances of positive job fit for critical roles
3. For risk mitigation in leadership derailment and positive self-management
4. To predict the type of culture environment an individual is likely to create
Uniquely, these tools were developed using work-place populations and continuously researched to help businesses. They are globally normed on leadership populations across countries and industries with numerous case studies to demonstrate their benefit and value to business. The main Hogan assessments we use are:
• Hogan Personality Inventory (The Bright Side) HPI
• Hogan Development Survey (The Dark Side) HDS
• Motivations, Values and Preferences Inventory - MVPI
• Business Reasoning Inventory
• Hogan 360
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI® is a commonly used instrument for identifying psychological preferences and is designed to help:
• identify strengths and potential challenges for individuals and teams
• work around, or minimise, potential blind spots
• improve individual and group capacities to solve problems, communicate, and use conflict constructively
• maximize the natural advantages that result from the similarities and differences of team members
• develop team and individual action plans with specific steps to help improve performance
Where appropriate for team coaching and development, we combine one-to-one and whole-team activities to improve both the performance of individuals and the team. Typical applications include:
• building cohesion of a newly formed team
• to establish a working understanding of the best way to work together
• to facilitate a process to engage and establish a new team
• to take multiple perspectives as a team and harness diversity
Human Synergistics’ Life Styles Inventory is an individual development tool that uses both self-assessment and colleague feedback to identify individual thinking and behavioural styles. It helps the individual to understand and celebrate their strengths and to identify their stumbling blocks and areas for development.
We typically recommend this tool as an aid to self-mastery or when there is a need to:
• understand new ways of thinking and behaving
• improve role or personal effectiveness
• manage stress, pressure, and change more effectively
• employ more flexible and creative thinking
• improve interpersonal relationships
• increase personal effectiveness
We often use this as a developmental tool of choice because the data is presented in percentiles scores relative to an equivalent population – Normed data. We find that leaders value the opportunity to self-evaluate against a bench mark.
The results and recommendations are presented to the individual in a detailed confidential report. By providing insights into strengths and areas for development, it empowers people to understand and change the way they think and behave, helping them to get better at, and enjoy more, everything that they do.
When we want to understand the interpersonal interactions of a small group of people, Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation - Behaviour (FIRO-B) offers a powerful, yet simple framework to explain how interpersonal ‘wants’ and ‘expression’ drive our behaviour. It uses three basic dimensions of Inclusion, Control and Affection.
The tool was first developed out of a need to group the right people to live together in a submarine of months at a time. It is still as powerful in helping groups of people work better with each other. It can be used to:
• increase trust in teams
• influence others
• create productive relationships
• structure the initiation or refreshing of teams
• risk manage relationship traps between team members
• create tailored personal development plans
Organisational transformation begins with the personal transformation of its leaders. If the leaders don’t change, the culture won’t change.
We partner with the Barrett Values Centre to use a range of transformation tools designed to increase leadership consciousness and development. The models are fluid and recognise movement in personal development and awareness. The Individual Values Assessment identifies:
1. what matters to the individual
2. what they experience in the culture
3. what they believe would make the organisation more successful
This uncovers the changes necessary for you to find personal fulfilment in your organisation.
The Leadership Development Report compares what the leaders regard as important personally, with what others see in them and generates rich insights. These then inform coaching conversations, promote self-awareness and ignite personal transformation, thus helping leaders to realise their full potential.
The LDR provides an excellent 360-degree instrument capturing data on the leader’s own perception of operating style together with that of his or her superiors, peers and subordinates. The data gathered is framed in a developmental growth framework that empowers the leader to make informed choices about where to refocus their attention.
Assessors place emphasis on the leader’s strengths, areas for improvement, and opportunities for growth. They work together to develop an action plan to support the leader in their continuing development and help them to become the best leader that they can be.
Star performance comes from playing to our strengths. We are often programmed to see deficiency and overlook what we can celebrate and build on to be at our best.
Strengthscope is a tool designed to highlight our awareness of our own strengths and to reveal unclaimed strengths that others see in us. It is a world-leading positive psychology based tool that has applications for individuals, teams and organisations for focusing on how to maximise each other’s individual and shared strengths.
It can be used to:
• optimise team efforts on activities and improve team efficiency
• enhance engagement and motivation by playing to the positive energy you get from focusing on what energises and excites individuals
• manage risks associated with overusing a strength or not leveraging the appropriate strength in situations
• manage any ‘blind spot’ about how we play to our strengths
Team and Organisational Culture Assessments
In order to manage and lead culture change, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the ‘What’, ‘How’ and ‘Why’ of the culture.
There are few Culture Assessment frameworks that meet the critical need of being comprehensive enough to identify the sources of messages that shape and sustain an organisation’s culture. At NDC, we use a combination of surveys and assessment tools combined with forensic focus groups work to get to the heart of your current culture and its underlying drivers so you can make an impactful difference.
Common sense tells us that trust is fundamental to functional teamwork. Lencioni’s straightforward practical approach puts trust as high for constructive teams and low for dysfunctional teams. Named after Lencioni’s book “five dysfunctions of teams”, the self-assessment tool is used to uncover the critical elements to focus on for constructive team performance.
When team dysfunction is present we see varying degrees of the following:
• Individual needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.) come before the collective goals of the team, especially when individuals aren't held accountable.
• Hesitation to call each other on actions and behaviours that seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.
• Ambiguity leading to a lack of direction and commitment - key employees become disgruntled.
• The avoidance of open and honest debate. Team conflict easily turns into veiled discussions and back channel comments; leading to inferior decisions.
• Reluctance to be vulnerable with each other, unwilling to admit mistakes or ask for help.
On completion of the self-assessment tool, each team member receives a 37-page highly personalised report with individual feedback, tips and strategies for improving teamwork effectiveness and an opportunity for building an action plan.
Barrett’s Culture Values Assessment (CVA) is designed to identify and measure:
1. what matters to and motivates your staff as people
2. what employees currently experience at work
3. what employees believe would make your organisation better
4. the business dimensions most affected by the current and desired cultures (based on a Business Needs scorecard)
The CVA has a direct application to reveal the latent potential of employees and identify what is in the way of them giving their all at work.
The CVA will provide you with a detailed understanding of the personal motivations of your employees, their experience within your organisation, and the direction the organisation should be heading.
The results can generate deep, meaningful conversations about the purpose, priorities and strategy of the organisation and the well-being of all stakeholders and provide a road map for achieving high performance, full-spectrum resilience and sustainability.
The Organisational Consulting Inventory (OCI) is part of an established globally used suite of tools that enable organisations to measure across 12 thinking and behavioural styles that make up an organisation’s culture.
The OCI is designed to identify and measure:
a) the behavioural patterns and mindsets in categories of ‘Constructive’, ‘Aggressive defensive’ and ‘Passive defensive’
b) what key behaviours and mindsets would help make a constructive culture
It is an accessible model that we find clients take to very quickly and are able to work out what defensive styles they have in their culture that need to change and how to build a more constructive healthy culture.
OCI is a quick, pragmatic and effective tool that has the advantage of also being available at individual, leadership and team level – making it possible to use a common language throughout transformational efforts in both leadership development, team effectiveness and individual impact.
Based on the pioneering work of Barry Oshry, Power & Systems organisational workshops aim to ‘increase systemic organisational health’ and promote more ‘sensible leadership’.
The Building Partnership Workshops provide a fully immersive, reality-based experience where participants experience different roles in a mock organisation to uncover the dynamics of organic systems in an organisation. Participants gain insight into the perspectives of Senior, Middle and Junior roles in an organisation as well as the perspective of customers and providers.
As a result of the workshop, participants gain:
• an ability to work with the complexity of systems without becoming as absorbed or influenced by them.
• enhanced empathy with people in other parts of the system.
• greater motivation to act in ways that promote partnership despite positional and system differences.
• an understanding of system dynamics, providing insight and understanding to know that 'what seems personal is usually not'.
• knowledge about how each position in the system can influence for increased effectiveness of the whole system.
Culture IMPACTTM, developed by NDC, is a simple and effective approach to enhance your business culture and improve your overall results. It was validated over a three-year period within commercial companies including IKEA of Sweden.
Uniquely, it does not depend on a complex framework or model but detects the critical factors driving the results in your culture, impacting communication, employee motivation and customer engagement. In a nutshell, it provides two ways to understand your culture, ‘What happens here?’ and ‘What is important here?’
Culture IMPACTTM provides a scientific ‘mixed method’ approach to both measure your culture and deep dive into the processes, habits and ways of thinking that drive your results. The approach combines surveys and forensic focus group methodology, designed to identify and measure:
- how your culture is expressed in terms of Cultural Dimensions g. performance, evolution, customer, collaboration and alignment
- the key Culture Enablers eg. leadership, communication, engagement and motivation.
- the sources/channels of the culture shaping messages through Behaviours, Systems and Symbols
- the underlying feelings, values and beliefs sustaining the current culture
Theories and Principles / Frameworks
With multiple theories, models and systems available to help individuals and organisations, which do we use?
Our starting point is your specific need. Your business is unique, so you need a bespoke plan that addresses your individual business needs. We discuss the issue at hand and the outcomes you are looking to achieve then choose the most appropriate models and systems to provide the map that will help you navigate to the desired outcomes. We draw on multidisciplinary skills from Science, Psychology and Business operations.
Conscious Business is about leading business with heightened awareness and clearer purpose. It is underpinned by a set of proven principles (Fred Kofman, 2005) to raise the capabilities of organisations, and the people within them, in order to deliver exceptional and sustainable results. The principles become a philosophy and way of being that leave individuals feeling more empowered in everything they do.
The approach is effective as it helps leaders flourish at three levels:
• Individually, making better quality decisions
• Within relationships, achieving greater organisational harmony
• Product delivery and outputs, through an increased understanding of customers and markets
Conscious business encourages and strengthens partnerships where individuals become jointly committed to the shared success of their work.
Organisations that truly live their values enjoy superior performance and attract the best talent.
Organisational values are recognised as a key lever in organisational sustainability. It is through values that we can impact employee performance. We use a suite of resources developed by the Barrett Values Centre to help individuals, teams and organisation look more closely at the underlying values that matter to people individually, and at how values shape our working experience.
The evolution of human values is understood well in terms of how they impact our self-awareness and achieving our potential and in terms of what becomes possible where shared values evolve. We help individuals and organisations leverage how paying attention to the evolutionary nature of values makes for more engaged and fulfilled people delivering more productive and satisfying results for all.
As an example, we regularly see individuals with positive values such as ‘making a difference’, respect and accountability. Where these values can flourish they create healthy constructive working environments. On the other hand, where these values are impeded it may seem that what is valued is ‘blame’, ‘bureaucracy’, ‘confusion’, and ‘dependency’. When we identify this and address what is sustaining and driving associated behaviours and processes, we help values such as ‘responsibility, ‘simplicity’, ‘clarity’ and ‘accountability’ to flourish instead.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as the ability to identify, assess, and control one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and that of groups.
Unlike IQ, which doesn’t change significantly over a lifetime, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) can evolve and improve. So, even if you are not one of the lucky ones blessed with a natural ability to relate to others, you can develop your emotional intelligence and gain enhanced skills in relating to others.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) was popularised by Daniel Goleman as “an array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance”. Today it is understood as consisting of a mixture of ‘trait emotional intelligence’ and ‘ability emotional intelligence’.
At NDC, we specialise in helping identify trait EI and in developing ability EI. We work with you to create bespoke personal EI development plans for employees at all levels of your organisation, including appropriate personal practice opportunities and reflective personal learning.
The pro-nouns I/We/It form part of the grammar structure of every known language because they account for three very real dimensions of all experience:
• I - an inner personal experience
• We - a shared understanding with others
• It - a concrete inanimate action or object
Since working together in organisations is about shared experiences and making meaning together, it is not surprising that these three dimensions are present no matter the situation. Often, we are skewed towards the ‘it’ at the expense of the ‘I’ and ‘we’. In other words, the task is everything. This leads to a neglect of the self and causes damage to relationships. Working with conscious business principles has shown that it is crucial to attend to all three dimensions to maintain balance.
What does that mean for meetings and communication? It means being skilled at exercising personal power and having confidence to name or speak out about any concerns or needs that could prove business critical later. It means checking for shared understanding and clarifying assumptions, and it means commitment and clarity about the task or outcome.
One of the most powerful principles of growth and development is the realisation that who you are (or what you want to be) determines what you can do and have – known as the Be. Do. Have principle.
We have developed the Be Do Have principle into a pragmatic framework for delivering organisation-wide culture transformation. Whatever the desired culture in an organisation, there are associated elements at each level of Being (beliefs, values, mindsets, mental models) and Doing (behaviours, systems and symbols) that create the Have (results, cultural assets, outcomes).
The Be Do Have principle drives sustainable individual, team and organisational success. Here is an example application:
• Define what you are committed to
• Describe in specific terms how you have to Be in order to have that
• Decide who will take action and what the intention and belief must be for any action to be effective
• What are the possible ways of Being that align with what you want to Have?
• What possible course of action, ways of behaving and doing, that will propel you into making the Have a reality?
Behaviours, Systems and Symbols is a practical impactful organisational framework developed over 20 years ago by Macdonald et al. In combination, Behaviours, Systems and Symbols cover the principles about human behaviour to create models of good leadership, organisational strategy, systems design and social process. We use these insights to help organisations to predict and shape people’s behaviour and to build effective systems which drive productive behaviour and lead to a more effective realisation of the organisation’s purpose.
Behaviours – The ways in which we act or conduct ourselves, especially towards others
Systems – The mechanisms of management including operating systems, IT systems, policies, procedures, and organisational structures
Symbols - Events or decisions to which people attribute a meaning which express specific ideologies and ‘cultural norms’
From our lengthy experience with clients, our conclusion is that in order to sustain a healthy culture, the behaviours, systems and symbols must be integrated, like the three strands of a chord.
How we do it
Building mutual trust is at the heart of all our consulting. This means that we have honest conversations with you to establish the right conditions for a productive and mutually satisfying partnership.
By building mutual trust from the outset, we ensure that you are ready to embrace the changes required, confident in our expertise to support you through the process, allowing individuals, teams and your organisation to release latent potential and flourish.
We have years of experience of facilitating both small and large groups of leaders and managers. We may be asked to help a team reach a shared agreement about a project, or work with a team experiencing internal conflict. Whatever the need, we can offer both off the shelf workshops or bespoke facilitation sessions for the conversations you and your teams need to have to move your business forward. We create spaces to change mindsets, to challenge, to try out new skills and, to hold the mirror up to best practice.
Our strengths are in a deep understanding of human relating in organisations, coupled with practical leadership and management expertise. This experience and expertise enables us to provide a space that is both safe and challenging, allowing you and your team to work on their learning to make a difference.
Conflict is a natural part of the creative cycle; however, some conflicts are protracted and stubborn leading individuals or groups to work in destructive or evasive ways. Conflict at this level can quickly spread through an organisation, wasting significant amounts of energy spent on managing blame culture, avoiding accountability or working inefficiently.
Becoming comfortable with managing conflict or relationship tensions is a skill without price in healthy organisations. Being able to understand and work with conflict, as opposed to being conflict avoidant, increases trust and productivity for individuals and teams.
Our conflict resolution programmes get to the heart of the matter in an empathetic and compassionate manner, using conscious business principles, non-violent communication, emotional intelligence and mediation techniques that build trust and allow for unfiltered and constructive debate.
Most of us don’t like having to manage difficult conversations but we all have to face them at some point - whether it’s explaining a project delay to a client, dealing with an employee’s underperformance or handling a sensitive personal issue.
Being able to communicate the relevant concern in an honest way whilst maintaining a respectful relationship is both an art and a skill. At NDC, we draw on the established wisdom of managing difficult conversations as developed through the Harvard Negotiation Project and Marshall Rosenberg’s Centre for Non-Violent communication. We help people to master the simple principles of managing difficult and crucial conversations through our coaching, team development and/or organisational consultations.
Our clients quickly experience the power of being able to speak their truth without damaging relationships and good will, thus improving business relations and team effectiveness.
Making learning practical, applied and lasting in organisations is most important. Action Learning is a process that sets people up to address real problems, take action, and learn as individuals and as a team. When set up appropriately, this systematic approach to learning improves the organisation.
Action learning enables peer learning to be sustained regularly within an organisation. Once the meeting discipline is in place, teams can self-manage with occasional supervision/facilitation. As its founder Reg Revan discovered, it is the power of naive questioning, often from another discipline, that can lead to insight…. imagine if IT and Sales peers worked together to develop their learning.
Over time, skill and knowledge development and the transfer of expertise through our consulting will become embedded as a strength in your organisation. Participants quickly transfer and apply their learning and insights to other areas of work.
We have found Appreciative Inquiry a valuable approach with clients as it releases energy for change in the organisation. It is a ‘solution-focused’ approach that offers a welcome balance to ‘problem focused’ investigation. In our work, we believe that once problems or issues are comprehensively understood, appreciative inquiry with the appropriate parties leads to a rich and positive inventory of remedies to problems and successes.
By amplifying what is working well already, employees become galvanised with energy and positive motivation to do better. Doing more of what we do well is motivating in itself, identifying our core strengths and capitalising on them for competitive advantage Best of all, using appreciative inquiry, we celebrate and build on the core strengths of organisations in order to leverage this in reshaping the future.
The term workshop covers a multitude of activities from producing lists of actions to be delivered, co-creating new possibilities or experiential learning. An NDC workshop is different because a critical element of our facilitation is building trust, no matter what the situation.
Our workshops are always informed by whole-systems thinking including a balance of Be, Do, Have, I, WE, It, action learning and appreciative inquiry. We leverage the psychology of group work to harness the latent potential of the group and work with the group as a reflection of the organisation. Often, this catalyses insights and breakthroughs that a group would not get by focusing only on exercises, activities or outputs and tasks.
Our Open Forum process where we create safe conditions for members to have free and open discussion about whatever they need to discuss, is repeatedly requested in our senior executive workshops. We master the intangible element of creating a ‘safe space’ for anything to emerge and be processed and contained safely. Clients regularly comment on this and notice that they are unable to recreate it themselves.
Following evaluations, research, planning and strategic reviews, the next step is the implementation stage. This will require people to work together and perhaps adopt a new or different way of working and operating. Implementation in organisations is often treated simply as a ‘roll-out’ that cascades through an organisation, much like a ‘sheep dipping programme’.
Our implementation approach questions the wisdom of such role out efforts. We design implementation based on whole-system change and the Be Do Have framework. This ensures ‘buy in’ from all parties, leading to a lasting and sustainable impact. By understanding and taking account of the necessary conditions for successful implementation we help organisations use their money, time and resources more wisely.
The responsibility for managing organisational culture rests with the leadership of the organisation, but even the best leaders will struggle to achieve success if the culture inhibits them.
Our Culture Management approach provides a systematic, grounded and pragmatic approach to positively shaping and aligning culture with your organisation’s purpose, goals, strategy and objectives.
Our interest in surveys began with the scientific design and validation of questionnaire reliability and fitness for purpose. Our trainers have collaborated with industry leaders in surveys designed to measure elements from personality, motivation and engagement to team effectiveness and culture. We provide an objective approach to the purpose, viability and functionality of one particular survey over another, in order to advise clients on the most suitable survey to meet their needs.
For individual, team and organisational measurements, we have access to the majority of best in class surveys. We use whole-systems thinking to help clients become clear about their expectations and the purpose of using a survey before making an informed decision.
We additionally provide support on the validation, design, development and management of bespoke surveys.
We offer culture audits as a service to capitalise on all the existing data and intelligence held by the organisation. The audit is achieved through a combination of desk review and targeted interviews, looking at the organisation’s behaviours systems and symbols.
On completion of the audit, we produce a detailed report that highlights insights about current cultural attributes and issues and provides an indication about the Behaviour, Systems and Symbols that are driving it. We also make recommendations for the next steps in implementing necessary change.
Clients often choose to have a culture audit before committing to a more in-depth culture assessment or culture planning process.
We help design a series of demographically defined Forensic Focus Groups and conduct an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis based on your key criteria, including identifying the underlying drivers of your current culture. The concept of ‘The Organisation in the Mind’ (Tavistock) informs how we conduct our focus group process in order to unravel the experience and meaning employees make.
Our subsequent analysis of the process that unfolded in each group enables us to describe the intangible aspects of organisational culture. Empowered with this level of understanding about the culture-shaping messages and shared unspoken beliefs, we can recommend the critical focus to deliver a culture shift.
In our experience culture transformation is most successful when it is linked to business objectives.
The Strategy and Culture workshop is the foundation step to ensure from the outset that everything affecting your culture is aligned with delivering on your strategy.
We engage with the owners of the strategy and test their expectations and intentions about what they want to have happen over the next 3-5 years. The workshop is designed to maximise clarity about their chosen strategy and to unite all owners behind the strategy. Achieving this eliminates confusion and regression later when you need to establish behavioural and other cultural standards.
Once the most senior stakeholder has the buy-in and commitment of all relevant stakeholders to the strategy, we take them through a logical and behavioural informed process to identify the distinct characteristics their culture needs to achieve maximum success. The result is a unique blueprint for how your intended culture directly impacts strategy.
Managing and leading culture is both an art and a science. We have developed formulae to test what aspects of your culture will make the biggest difference in delivering your chosen strategy and business goals. We have extensive experience of identifying the messages that shape and drive organisational culture.
During culture workshops, we train key influencers in the organisation in how to set about proactively managing their organisation’s culture and how to make the business case to gain the support and buy-in of critical stakeholders.
The Culture Workshop equips participants with an understanding of the elements they need to address in order to impact their culture. We teach how to leverage the most important elements and learn about interrelation of all activities in the organisation through the ‘whole-system change’ framework.
Clients tell us that the most valuable element coming from the culture workshop is the understanding that organisations don't transform, people do”; “for things to change, first I must change”. In the advanced Culture workshop, participants become skilful at leveraging themselves as instruments for change.