IMI conference reminds CEOs of simple techniques behind success

12 Oct 2018

IMI conference reminds CEOs of simple techniques behind success

From the power of sleep to finding focus in the midst of disruption, the annual IMI National Conference was full of ideas, as Mark O’Donnell, Partner at Odgers Berndtson Ireland, reports.

Over 200 of the top influencers in Ireland’s business world gathered at the IMI bright and early for an invigorating morning on ‘Equipping Leaders to Build the Future.’

Though some may have wished for more shut-eye before the 7:30 am start, Dr Simon Boucher opened the morning by emphasising the importance of good quality sleep. He quantified this in its cost to the economy. Certainly kept me awake! I was intrigued and delved further. In 2016, RAND Europe undertook new research into the economic and societal effects of sleep deprivation. It found that the US loses up to $411 billion a year, or 2.2% GDP, due to insufficient sleep and the UK up $50 billion; 1.86% GDP.

It could translate into relatively low hanging fruit in the garden of financial gains if everyone on your team slept well enough to be at full steam all the time.

RAND estimated that if people who now sleep for six hours per night managed to get seven, it could add $226.4 billion to the US economy and $29.9 billion to the UK’s. ‘Dream on’ takes on a new meaning.

But the word was out on the detrimental effects of poor sleep on all aspects of human life and health long before this. The day after the study was published, Arianna Huffington launched her new company, Thrive Global, to “…end the stress and burnout epidemic...” Her initial focus was on promoting enough, good quality sleep.

Bright isn’t always beautiful

Simon also underscored much talk about how blue light from the myriad of electronic devices in our gaze disrupts sleep quality and therefore health. In August 2018, National Geographic published a fascinating story on how “Our floodlit society has made sleep deprivation a lifestyle.” The blue wavelengths coming from computers and phone promote alertness which is good for daytime. Once darkness sets, when the biological ecosystem is designed to rest and rejuvenate, it over-stimulates the brain, leading to poor quality sleep and repair.

Boundaries on night-time phone use are not just needed for our kids, it seems.

Keeping focused

Deborah Rowland is a prominent change-maker who has worked with many large organisations like Shell, PepsiCo, Dell, DeBeers, PWC and Diageo on how to lead change. Her background in anthropology and her pioneering research gives her an edge in understanding the dynamics of integrating new directions.

Her main message was to keep focused on the now during the chaos of disruption. Anguish about what has happened or anxiety about what could go wrong is counter-productive when all that matters is focusing on what needs to be dealt with now. It brings to mind ‘The Power of Now’, a truly eye-opening book on how to be in charge of your thinking, instead of letting it run free and possibly work against you.

Staying steady and strong

Deborah’s message was amplified by Terence Mauri. He works with companies as a global disruption expert, helping leaders to innovate and adapt amid the rapidly-moving and large-scale changes companies face.
His message: focus on yourself in a mindful way that keeps you steady and strong. He includes in his ‘smart ways to stay one step ahead’ taking time to remind yourself what your purpose is.

Asking “Why am I here?” and “What am I doing?” can reignite motivation and ambition when you’re under challenge.

Slowing down

Nathan Furr has just written a book called ‘Innovation Capital’ in which he interviews Jeff Bezos, Satya Nadella and Jeff Weiner. Learning from the people who are behind much of the lightning-fast disruption in our world, he advises leaders of more modestly-sized enterprises on how to create innovation capital. Forging new ground takes courage; identifying and attracting innovation champions can enthuse teams and pull them forward. Like a counterbalance to the zeitgeist, he also stressed the importance of slowing down and focusing on the now to let ideas flow.

Excellently run, all this was packed in by lunchtime. By the time I left the conference, I was full of ideas. I must have been in my ‘now’.

Self-value and care taken to maintain wellness are now central to being happy and successful in the workplace.

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