Leaders need time and space to become great

One of the many values of the MD2MD model is simply that membership enables and encourages business leaders to take time out of their business regularly to put the day to day in context and look up at the bigger picture. Indeed one member once said that membership would be worthwhile if we did nothing other than drag him out of his business for a day regularly. Whilst the speakers and business discussions were valuable, the majority of the value was simply in being away from the day to day hassle.

So in some senses our whole model is about creating space and time.  But we also have a specific activity designed specifically to do so.  We call it our the “Retreat to advance”.  Retreat in that the event has similarities to a religious retreat in that it is about creating time and space for the Business leader members of MD2MD to step back and contemplate their longer term plans – a complement to the continuous improvement, get better small step by small step, model we use in our normal meetings.  But we also call it an Advance as it is about looking forward more than looking back. We do ask members to look at where they are now and ow they got there, but only as context for the important questions of where they want to get to and how they plan to get there.  And we do so away from the day to day pressures in a conducive environment; one that provides space to reflect and develop thinking.

This, like everything in MD2MD, is a part of our process that has emerged from business experience and real world intuition as a useful and pragmatic approach to developing great leadership behaviours. As such I was interested to read an article in the Harvard Business Review that seems to provide a neuroscientific basis for why this approach works.

In summary the article suggests that whilst positive social interactions and collaboration are a critical to a healthy workplace, it is often through reflection that ideas are crystallized and insights formed. We have our most innovative ideas when we’re letting the mind wander into our deep storehouse of memories, ideas, and emotions. THe article suggests that we need to make a practice of turning away from the distractions of daily life to give our minds space to reflect, make new connections, and find meaning. And the article goes on to suggest that it’s by creating this space and time to remember the past, think about the future and see other perspectives that we truly understand ourselves, and create meaning from our experiences. And finally it suggests we should run our businesses in similar ways to liberate the innovative potential of our staff too.

As always, the above is my personal summarised interpretation, for the real stuff you can read the full article here.