“Do you really belong here?”

Take a look at the foot traffic at a railway station in any of New Zealand’s main cities and the multi-cultural nature of our workforce will become evident. The diversity is astounding and encouraging. The variety is not just about gender or about ethnicity. It is not uncommon to find four generations, five languages, many ethnicities and a spectrum of worldviews in any workplace today.


For Shireen Chua this diversity is not only interesting, it forms the key focus of her career. Born in Malaysia of Chinese ethnicity and raised in New Zealand, Shireen is acutely aware of the challenges and opportunities facing the diverse workforce. “There is no doubt that the differences are greater than ever before,” says Shireen. “This leads to a complexity which can be daunting for the individual and for the company as a whole.” At the core are the individual’s personality, beliefs and values. These factors influence their perceptions of the primary human characteristics such as age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, gender, physical and mental ability. To a large extent people in the workforce have become accustomed to diversity of these characteristics and have at least a basic understanding of how to react appropriately.

When it comes to secondary characteristics such as marital/parental status, social status, nationality, language, accent, appearance, location, hobbies, educational background and religion the fluency with which the “average person” interacts in the workplace is placed under some strain. All of these characteristics influence how we behave and respond in our interactions with each other. However, take this to another level: if we move from diversity (encouraging the hiring of people of diverse backgrounds and diverse primary and secondary characteristics) to inclusion (making all people feel part of the organisation) then the challenges are significant. In an inclusive organisation the opinions, worldviews and values of all the employees, no matter how different, are respected.

Compromise or negotiate?

Some may frown at the concept that interactions (and in a sense values and norms) are not fixed but negotiated. “It does not mean that we need to compromise on what determines our identities or our personalities,” adds Shireen. “On the contrary, these diverse ways of thinking are very valuable to the organisation and they all need an opportunity to be heard.” But we need to acknowledge that the best solution to any problem can come from any source and that our behaviour should encourage all employees to feel comfortable enough to share their insights and to contribute to the best possible solution.

As Csaba Toth, Founder of ICQ Global and developer of Global DISC™ put it, “Diversity is the mixture of differences; inclusion is the right mixture of people managed with cultural intelligence. One is a minefield and other one is a gold mine.” The movement from one to the other requires building the necessary skills not only among people in the workforce but within the very core of the organisation. Cultural Intelligence means having the ability to interact effectively in any culturally diverse setting.  It helps us understand the impact of organisational characteristics such as hierarchies and the placement of people at different levels, how different functions of the business interact (because, after all, marketers and engineers are diverse breeds), how one location deals with another (for example head office and a branch office).

Tolerate or belong?

What is the ultimate proof that we have successfully included people in the way we run our businesses? People feel they belong. Belonging is what happens when the level of cultural intelligence (CQ) in the organisation is high and pervasive. When people feel they belong, they have ownership of their work and they contribute at unprecedented levels.

Success comes when CQ influences how we communicate, how we see ourselves (both as individuals and as groups in the workplace) and what we focus on (i.e. the balance between task and relationship). People feel they belong when they are heard, included in the problem-solving processes (where appropriate) including how we process and share information, how we give explanations and the conclusions we reach. The highly effective organisation is attuned to its composite workforce and its growing diverse markets. This influences the decision-making cycles including the locus of control, how we interpret time, and how we distribute or constrain power.

Interacting, problem-solving and decision-making are the most subtle measurements of inclusion and the most effective companies strive towards constant improvement of these behaviours.

Watch this webinar where Shireen Chua discusses various tools which can be used to measure and improve the CQ of your organisation.

Look at these videos to learn more about the Four CQ Capabilities that lead to individual success, and more about the CQ Wheel and how it can be applied in your business.

Then have a look at these TED Talks for more on CQ:

diversity; inclusion; cultural intelligence; CQ

Shireen Chua is the Director of Third Culture Solutions Ltd.  She is a Malaysian-Chinese Kiwi who has been educated in New Zealand completing her degree at Massey University (MSc Nut.Sci) Her MBA from Southern Cross University, Australia included a research project focusing on Culture Matters: How NZ Organisations develop Intercultural CompetencyShe is a certified Professional Coach, gaining her ACC with the International Coach Federation and is also certified by the Cultural Intelligence Center as a CQ Trainer (Advanced).  This allows her to facilitate the Developing Cultural Intelligence workshop using the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) assessment tool.  She is also certified to train using the Global DiSC. Shireen is a lecturer on Massey’s Master of Advanced Leadership Practice (MALP).


Share this post

Alumni taking the reins, building the network

Massey EMBA alumni have taken the reins of their network and are facilitating reconnections across the country.  The movement was kicked off by a small group in Auckland which ran an inaugural breakfast late last year.  A number of alumni featured as presenters, giving insights into the exciting projects they were working on and some of the changes they had made since graduating.  Two of the four alumni presenters connected with the event from abroad.

Massey alumni, network, connections

The event also featured an insightful and inspiring industry speaker – Dorenda Britten – who gave a positive perspective on how the current MBA programme was being received by industry and how the new programme features aligned well with current industry needs.  Dorenda also challenged the EMBA alumni to reflect on their approaches, perspectives and assumptions as the business landscape is changing at a rate at which old thinking won’t cut it for much longer.

The alumni community have long recognised the value of their network, but have had difficulty extending their reach beyond their immediate cohort.  Massey is working to enable all EMBA alumni to find and leverage each other by developing an expertise database in which alumni will be able to search and find others who have had the Massey EMBA alumni experience to do business together more readily.

The Massey EMBA alumni community are invited to contribute to setting the EMBA alumni agenda for the next 12 months and beyond, to ensure that Massey continues to contribute to their professional needs and development in a relevant way.

A follow-up event is being planned for late April 2019 in Auckland with another event being planned for Wellington in May.

If you have any questions or want to get in touch, contact Meshweyla Macdonald at M.Macdonald@massey.ac.nz and register on the Massey EMBA website https://alumnionline.massey.ac.nz/mba

Share this post

Coaching to boost Exec MBA students


The revised Executive MBA at Massey will now feature one-to-one Executive Coaching as part of the new Applied Personal Leadership course in Part Two. Students will be able to team up with a personal mentor, should they so wish, from the MBA alumni, or a broader group of experienced business leaders from a range of sectors. The coaching will be delivered through a new Register of Coaches and Mentors, which students will be able to search through to find an appropriate individual. The members of the Register are personally recruited as people who have the appropriate experience and skills to provide relevant assistance to Executive MBA students.

To develop and maintain the necessary skills to be an effective coach and/or mentor, we are setting up a Coaching Hub within the Executive Education centre at Massey Business School. This hub will provide supervision, networking opportunities and coaching skills training to members of the Register – ensuring consistency of approach and quality assurance. Massey Executive Development is also working on a formal coaching qualification which could be available later in the year for those who want to take their practice to the next level.

Why are we doing this?

There has been a huge increase in the use of Executive Coaching in organisations, and by individuals, in the last decade. Coaching has moved from being seen as a remedial activity, focused on poor performance, to a developmental process used by the most successful managers and leaders in all kinds of organisational life. When used in conjunction with other development activities, such as an MBA, or an in-house leadership development programme, the additional value gained from the course can be enormous.

Coaching allows the individual to reflect on their learning and experiences from a course, and apply this to their own context, with consideration of their personal perspective in their role. The coaching relationship is confidential, and focused on the goals and desired outcomes of the person being coached. There is no other agenda from the coach apart from enabling their coachee to become more effective. Often, helping a person work out what their goal is can be a large part of the work undertaken by the coach.

The difference between Coaching and Mentoring

There can be much discussion about the similarities and differences between these two activities. We are taking the line that Mentoring depends upon the mentor having personal experience of the work context, business sector or technical specialism of the person they are mentoring. They can share their own experiences, give advice, provide resources and connections. Coaching is a process of enabling a person to gain awareness of their behaviours, be invited to take different perspectives and to be assisted to come up with their solutions to whatever problem they might be facing.

It is the case that the best mentors use coaching skills as part of the way they offer mentor support. A good coach can work with a coachee from an entirely different business or life background to their own, without this making any difference to the quality of the outcome from the coaching.

The Massey Register of Coaches and Mentors will show the various specialisations of the individuals listed. This will include who coaches, and who has specialist coaching skills such as Careers Coaching, Performance Coaching, Team Coaching etc. Mentors will be described according to industry sector, personal experience and individual focus. Some people, of course, will be listed under both Coaching and Mentoring, and the initial conversation for all relationships will be to clarify what the individual is looking for in this process.

For more information, or if you might be interested in becoming one of our Coaches or Mentors, please send us an e-mail.

Find out more about the Massey Executive MBA.

Patricia Bossons is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and has worked in Executive Education as a leadership development specialist, business psychologist and executive coach throughout her career.

She has recently taken up the role of Director of Executive Qualifications at Massey Business School, Massey University, NZ. Before this, she was the founder, and Director, of the Henley Centre for Coaching and Behavioural Change at Henley Business School, UK.

Patricia is currently designing and developing qualification programmes in this field at the professional master’s level for delivery in New Zealand through Massey Business School.


Share this post

Making innovation core to your business: Necessary but not easy

Innovation | Marketing Donut

We hear all the time that companies must be constantly innovating or else risk losing to better resourced or more aggressive competitors or to disruptive technologies and business models. And the reason is clear; there’s evidence all around us. Blockbuster, Kodak, Blackberry and Compaq are just a few iconic brands that went bust from a failure to respond to competition. Yet there are also many examples of companies that have not only survived, but thrived, innovating their way to success. Apple, McDonald’s and Lego come to mind.

Dr Marcus Powe has been helping leaders implement and embed innovation systems for many years. His research, teaching, mentoring led to him being awarded Australia’s Best Entrepreneurial Educator a few years back by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  Marcus shared his thoughts on what it takes to introduce and sustain an innovation system in an organisation in a recent webinar for Massey Business School.

“The first thing you should do is have a look around your company,” Marcus says. “Do you see a focus on best practice and quality? Aggressive uptake of leading edge technology? Continuous incremental improvement? Or, the development of new capabilities and original ideas? If not, you’ve got a problem.”

To be successful, innovation systems have to have commitment from the highest levels of management. Marcus argues that, “CEOs don’t necessarily lead innovation, but they do drive it. They have to get involved at key points, especially at creation and launch.” An innovation champion and innovation team are critical, but everyone must be involved. “You can’t just delegate innovation to the innovation department.”

A related principle is that innovation is not a separate strategy, but must be core business, linked to corporate goals. That means that all management must get involved in creating the vision for innovation and it means that developing a learning culture in the organisation is vital.

While there are identifiable steps to guide an organisation’s journey in implementing innovation systems, there are also many roadblocks along the way to overcome. Barriers to creativity include habits, fear, prejudices and blind acceptance…with fear being the most destructive of these. And some of the barriers to innovation are insecurity, tribalism, politics, and an unwillingness to take risks – with politics being top of that list. All these can be overcome, of course. But if it was easy, we wouldn’t have the Blockbusters, Kodaks and Blackberrys of the business world.

Marcus is working with Massey Business School to enhance our MBA programmes and to help us to help New Zealand businesses contribute to a thriving, prosperous and sustainable future for New Zealand.

Listen to Marcus explain his 8-step plan for implementing successful innovation systems, along with the main barriers that get in the way to success.

 Marcus Powe, PhD founded EIC Growth Pty Ltd to help CEOs and leaders implement, embed and measure creativity and innovation systems that result in enterprising behaviours. He specialises in the growth of for-profit and not-for-profit organisations that operate in the turbulence of national and international market places.

Share this post

An agile organisation needs a nimble mind

Here’s the scenario: You work as a consultant for a very large company. Your client has just blown their project budget. After spending two years and $74 million, the project team have delivered nothing, and they need another $74 million and another two years to try again! What would you recommend?

Erika Barden studied the situation carefully and knew that the client had to change the way they managed their projects. Unable to watch them waste another pile of cash she recommended that the management team implements an Agile approach. Although the concept of Agile project management is not new, some people are hesitant to implement it. Many believe that Agile involves throwing out the rule book, plunging into projects without a plan, avoiding commitment, dodging accountability and buying many pretty Post-it® notes!

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the more Erika learnt about Agile, the more she understood that it was not about avoiding accountability but exactly the opposite. Agile does not avoid processes and tools; it merely places them in the right priority with individuals and interactions. Instead of piles of project documentation, the customer gets working software, and they have been involved in every step of the development process. The customer feels as if they are part of the production process, not merely a passive observer. Instead of rigidly following a plan that daily becomes less relevant as circumstances change, Agile allows people to adapt quickly to change and mitigate big risks along the way. They do go through a fair amount of Post-its®, though.

There are plenty of controls, lots of lean governance and a very clear line of accountability, but the pace is different, and it requires not just a change in process but also a change in the way people think. Erika learnt that the success of an Agile project depends on top executives adopting an Agile mind-set and then transmitting this to everyone in the organisation. A rigid organisation that tries to operate just one aspect of the operation in an Agile way is bound to experience disappointment. Spark made headlines when it adopted an Agile approach not just for its development projects but as a way of doing business.

Erika was in the first cohort of Massey’s Master of Advance Leadership Practice, and her A+ dissertation looked at the way leaders need to change (by adopting an Agile mind-set) in order to ensure that the process is a success across their organisations. She has been an energetic advocate for Agile Leadership and is working on a range of projects with companies in the private and public sector throughout New Zealand.

Listen to Erika explain what Agile really means, how to use it as a business-as-usual process and what you need to do to ensure the successful transformation of your business.

Erika Barden is Head of Agile for Frank Innovation & Transformation, a company committed to delivering value-enhancing change. She is also a graduate of the Master of Advanced Leadership Practice (MALP).

Share this post

Are you living a well-lived life? 

Most of my work is to encourage people to “be all they can be”.

On many of the leadership development programmes at Massey, people ask me what they should do in their job or career to get more from their work. My reply, “Don’t ask me what you should do but what you could be”. Wouldn’t it be great if everybody wanted to run into work on Monday mornings? It would not feel like work then, would it?

To do this you need to find a job that you love; it is not too difficult to find “A job” but to find “THE Job” now, that is a different challenge.  The first part of this challenge is to find out as much about you as possible:

  • What are your values?
  • What would excite you enough to get you to go in on that wet July morning?
  • What are your strengths and limitations?
  • What are your emotional skills; your “emotional intelligence”?
  • What form of resilience will keep you on track and believing in yourself when the going gets tough?
  • How will you manage your relationships with others?
  • How quickly do you adapt to transitions?
  • Can you manage your own stress and anger?
  • What mood do you take into a room with you?
  • Last, but not least, how will you deal with failure and success?

Once you have a clear understanding of who you are there is another set of hard questions to answer – matching who you are to what jobs are out there.  “How would I match up to the jobs on offer?”

  • What jobs would really describe me and my sense of purpose?  But perhaps another way to ask this is “Where would I fit in?”
  • Which organisation aligns with my values?
  • Where would I be allowed to use most of my strengths to a purpose that I believe useful for all my life energy?
  • Where would my limitations be accommodated rather than cursed?

These are just a few of the questions that everyone who has a job they love has answered.

So if you want to make a start on that, the related pages in the links below will give you an opportunity to look at some of your values, understand and start developing some of those emotional skills,  review how you approach interviews against a checklist that you have made and a quick guide to success at work and in the new job.

Watch Mike’s career Webinar here.

Author, Mike Fiszer, heads up the Master of Advanced Leadership Practice (MALP)


Values link: values
Emotional Intelligence Link: EQscales
Interview Link: interview
Success at Work: success

Share this post