The 5 MONKEYS approach of leadership and cultural intelligence…

…and the results they deliver. The truth can set you free, but it will piss you off first…

Are you familiar with the 5 monkeys experiment? A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage, and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, every time a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up. After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation. The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up. After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings.

The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well. What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder. If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on all those who attempted to climb the ladder, their most likely answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here.”

This is the kind of approach we can notice in the field of leadership and management training. A lot of solutions exist, some of them are popular, some of them are proven, although there is not much overlap within these categories...

Did you know that MBTI is the most popular psychometric test? Over 2 million people use it every year even though 60% of them have a very different result when they take it 4 weeks later. That can be confusing…either for the person who keeps changing his personality or the for the people who try to get results using that tool.

80% of cultural differences exist within countries, not between them, so how useful is it to learn about the statistically average differences between nationalities if my success depends on how well I understand the person in front of me who is highly unlikely to be a statistically average individual?

Companies are passionate about upgrading their technology and streamlining their process, yet there was hardly any breakthrough in terms of understanding and leveraging the diversity of people. Are they using the usual tools because that is what they have been using in the past or because they work?

Is it expensive to invest in the latest solutions or sticking to the old methods cost more in the long run? As guessing is productive, let’s have a look at the results so we can make an informed decision:

– 89% of hiring failures within the first 18 months are due to a poor cultural fit. Only 11% are due to lack of skills. (LeadershipIQ, 2016)

– 75% of employees leave managers, not companies (Gallup, 2016)

– 71% of surveyed organisations aspire to have an inclusive culture, but only 12% have achieved this objective. (Deloitte, 2016)

– 89% of CEOs KNOW that addressing leadership, culture and engagement are the most urgent priorities. (Deloitte, 2016)

Business is about people and their mindset. As Peter Sage mentioned it, the wrong mindset can cause your business to fail. Having a full tool box is great, as long as you have the right tools otherwise you will just try hard with not much success.

The purpose of this article is not to convince you to buy anything, it is about sharing insights and reflections. They might make you challenge the status quo and lead you to find better solutions which could save you time, money while you unleash the amazing potential in your leaders and their teams. That is intelligent global leadership at its best!

Csaba Toth
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Csaba Toth

Founder at ICQ Global
Developer of the multi award-winning Global DISC framework, co-developer of the Intelligent Global Leadership program.
Csaba Toth
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