Having founded Alter Ego, a global network of influential leaders who are pioneering psychological and cultural development in organisations and society, Ronan Harrington has been sharing his knowledge and expertise on developmental perspective and how this can bring transformational change to business organisations today.
An expert in personal development at work, Ronan will be hosting a Keynote session at PI LIVE this month, talking about the psychological and cultural barriers to self-organisation. Drawing on his experience as one of the youngest executives in the City of London and now as a strategist in Extinction Rebellion, this is a must-see talk for anyone hoping to transform their workplace culture.
Ahead of the session, PerformanceIN caught up with the man himself during the busiest hour to discuss the psychological and cultural barriers to self-organisation and why this is vital for organisations to establish a safe place for people to flourish.
Hi Ronan, we’re very excited to have you as a Keynote speaker at PI LIVE this year! What are you most looking forward to at the event?
Ronan Harrington: I’m looking forward to bringing a deeper perspective to what holds us back from the leaders we can be. That deeper perspective is at a psychological and cultural level.
I wear many different hats but the core of all of them is the developmental perspective. I look at the human capacity to grow and how we can advance to meet the challenges of our time. In particular, the perspective I bring to both organisations and societies is the problems that we face can actually be overcome if we create the conditions for psychological and cultural development. I’m really excited to share this in an organisational context and some of the new ways organisations are embracing self-management, where anyone can be a leader and there is a culture of wholeness in which people can bring their full selves to work. If you put those two things together, magic can happen.
Your Keynote session is titled New Work Needs Inner Work where you will be discussing the psychological and cultural barriers to self-organisation. What advice would you give to attendees looking to transform their day-to-day and well-being in the workplace?
RH: The best piece of advice I could give is to create spaces where you and your colleagues can be emotionally vulnerable with each other. One of the biggest problems is that we often wear a professional mask to bottle up our feelings and we, therefore, don’t communicate our experiences of working within an organisation and are afraid that we would be perceived as weak. If we have those conversations, it can create a culture of trust where we can generally speak about what’s not been working in your organisation and that’s where we get closer to finding out how we can move forward in ways that are much better.
When I’m working with organisations, I introduce practices that create a culture of emotional vulnerability and honesty, and from there, have regular retrospectives where we review every two weeks on what went well, what didn’t go well – creating a real sense of honesty. When you have those conversations, you discover the tensions in your workplace and how to resolve them. So much can be resolved when creating a feeling of safety so we can be both honest and real with each other.
Mindfulness and well-being are being discussed more than ever before. Why is it vital for organisations to be aware of these areas and to ensure working cultures are resilient enough to support personal growth?
RH: If you’re running an organisation, you have a basic duty to treat employees well. Not so that they’ll be more productive, sell better, but to treat them as human beings. It comes to no surprise that if you generally care not only for your employee’s well-being but also their growth, they feel there is a general interest in them and not just because of self-interest. Because you generally care and respect them, the real loyalty and commitment stats would begin to appear in your organisation.
I see well-being as just one aspect and it’s incredibly important to manage our strength at the very least to be happier, healthy and flourishing, therefore, creating a good workforce. However, more than that, it’s the personal growth dimension. If a company can understand to unlock this, not just in a yearly training programme but as in everyday culture where every conversation and interaction involves learning and growing together. That’s where you really separate good companies from exceptional companies.
You also founded Alter Ego, a global network of influential leaders who are spearheading psychological and cultural development in organisations and society. How has this platform helped to communicate your message to audiences and inspire change in society?
RH: Indirectly, I convene with high profile leaders from around the world and gatherings where I introduce them to the developmental perspective of the importance of psychological and cultural development. That goes on to inform their work. We have heads in ThinkTank, MPs and grassroots leaders who are, on some level, have come to understand this developmental perspective and express that in their work.
Alter Ego has also become a platform for me to share these ideas. The platform is also a multi-media channel where I offer commentary on politics and developmental perspective in helping us grow out of and transcend some of the barriers that are affecting politics right now.
Lastly, with 2020 coming up, what do you think will be the most important topics discussed in the coming months?
RH: Culturally, vulnerably will increasingly take hold in workplaces and in work cultures, we’ll have more people speak on what is going on with their lives as well as personal and professional struggles. We’re also going to see mainstream awareness of trauma and the effects of this in society. There’s going to be greater public awareness on just how wounded we are on a psychological level and how that leads to an array of dysfunctional coping mechanisms that are playing out in the workforce and wider society.
I really see this period as a time of healing and psychotherapy which becomes are day-to-day living.