Single malts or blended?

By TetraMap_Admin - November 30, 2016

by guest blogger Simon Pocock

blended_whiskyI don’t profess to be an expert on whisky but one thing I do know is that blended whisky gets a bad name. Yes, the cheaper, nastier whiskies are all blended, but that doesn’t mean all blended whisky is cheap and nasty. The Last Drop Finest Aged 1960 is a blended whisky that if you’re lucky you can pick up for about £2,500 a bottle.

Leadership styles

In early 2015 the O2 Leadership Development Team – that’s us – were tasked with creating a new portfolio to help our leaders develop and ultimately meet the strategic needs of the business.

My specific part was to develop a leadership skills programme that developed a leader’s ability to adapt their style to suit the situation. Now, immediately my brain moved into Leadership Styles as the ideal model to help with that.

The big problem was that the Leadership Styles concepts are nothing new to many people. It’s a tried and tested concept that has been doing the rounds since Methuselah was a lad. “Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt” is the kind of response you get as the manager’s eyes roll upon hearing the agenda.

simon_cowellThis is despite the fact that their subconscious voice, the tiny one locked away with the Simon Cowell level of honesty, is also saying “Yeah, why do it again when you never used it in any practical sense anyway?” (If you don’t know who Simon Cowell is, he is that very critical and brutally honest part of you that sometimes we need to listen to.

And there’s the rub – how do you convince a business to revisit a concept that has had very significant sums of money invested in it in the past to little effect? (“Trust me” and “because I say so” aren’t viable influencing statements apparently!)


Enter TetraMap, wearing a cape and its pants over its tights

There are many different models to choose from on Leadership Styles; take a look at a tried and tested one, Situational Leadership, in this YouTube clip. But if I can focus on one common style you see in many models and always crops up on our programme – ‘Directive’. This isn’t about being autocratic; it’s about helping the individual develop through a task by clearly stating what they need to consider and think about in order to make headway. You use this style when the individual is new to a task and actually needs a great deal of leadership support to get going. Common thinking offers some advice on what Direction is, when it’s used and how it should be used well.


The individual’s natural preferences

But what it doesn’t do, and never has done, is consider how the individual’s natural preferences might impact on that. Direction is all about providing step-by-step instructions that are very clear and precise. Superb if the recipient is an Air; it plays directly into the clarity they need.

However, An Earth would potentially feel like they’re being held back by this style, a Water might feel a little mistrusted if the style isn’t executed well, and a Fire, in recipient of this staccato instructional style, might very soon feel the need to spice the day up by sticking pins into their own leg.

What we did then is blend the Leadership Styles and TetraMap together. We revisit both concepts as a refresher but then the real work begins – how do you use Leadership Styles in a way that takes account of someone’s TetraMap preferences and how do you adapt each of those four styles accordingly?

So, staying with Directive to illustrate a very brief overview of what typically emerges around this:

  • Earth: Use pragmatism – “You need clear instructions now so you can crack on by yourself all the sooner and achieve the goal.”
  • Air: Offer the chance for questions – “Here’s what you need to know and why. Here’s where you can find more detail about that. What do you want to ask me?”
  • Water: Assure support – “It’s important you’re not left all at sea so I want to support you by being a bit more prescriptive in these early stages of the task. When you’re feeling OK with the task, I can start to back off.”
  • Fire: Tiny stages that require their creativity – “I need you to complete this small step today. Let’s spitball some ideas together about how you might do that and have it done by tomorrow when we’ll talk about the step after that.”

Beyond our wildest expectations

It felt pretty ground breaking at the time. I’ve never seen this blended, overlaying approach before either as an internal facilitator or as an external consultant before that but the value it added was beyond our wildest expectations. Feedback has overwhelmingly been about how people have really engaged with the material in a much deeper way than ever before and that it has had much more practical use in how they go about leading their teams.

I’ve always been delighted to be involved in any psychometric tool – I love them! But by introducing the two concepts together and creating a synergy that adds value to both, I have NEVER seen any programme be accepted so readily as useful and practical.


Last Drop Whisky is £2,500 a bottle.

And here are two tried and tested single malts blending together and creating something pretty special.

Anyone know how I can bottle this stuff?

If you found this useful please share the article

Leave a Reply


Simon Pocock is a certified TetraMap facilitator at Telefonica in the UK where he is part of the O2 Leadership Development Team.

What I’m MOST proud of is how we have started bringing a TetraMap lens into everyday models and theories that people have been using for years, creating a synergy that adds value to both.

Simon Pocock