"Oh No, Not another Leadership Seminar!" is the punchline of a story I share when I speak at conferences or events.
The incident happened 20 years ago when I was on my way to conduct a 2-day leadership development program for an international client and I overheard two managers talking before it started.
As humbling as the experience was, it was also a wake-up call to make leadership education relevant and practical. Everyone you talk to will likely agree that effective leadership is essential but few will agree that they lack the skill.
Twenty years after that incident, I have coached hundreds of C-level leaders and facilitated countless leadership sessions. I am the author of two books on self-leadership as well as The New Leadership Playbook: Being Human Whilst Successfully Delivering Accelerated Results. My conclusion from this experience is:
"𝑳𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒑 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏"
Leadership is a...
Collaboration is the behavior of working with others, in-person or virtually, to produce something. It is the nature of business and a key factor for success, yet it is often lacking.
Some years ago, I was asked to run a conflict management training for a software company in Singapore, I explained to the client that giving people conflict management strategies is a great idea, but the conflict would remain unless the underlying causes of the conflict were addressed. I asked:
"Who is in conflict with whom, and about what?’"
With more gentle probing, I discovered that the engineering team was motivated and rewarded to keep the servers online and secure. The innovation team was motivated and rewarded for developing new solutions and selling them to market.
‘I’m curious,’ I probed further. ‘Does the innovation team need to test their beta software on the engineering team’s servers?’
The answer was...
You might think that after the pandemic-induced remote and hybrid work leaders would have embraced social collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Yammer, or Facebook Workplace.
A recent report by Knowman showed that the effect of the pandemic has been that 64% of organizations indicate an increase in leadership activity on their chosen social platform but only 18% of leaders use the platform to create dialogue around important topics, and only 8% have a structured approach for doing so.
When I was researching for 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸: 𝗕𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗛𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗪𝗵𝗶𝗹𝘀𝘁 𝗦𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗳𝘂𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗗𝗲𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗔𝗰𝗰𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘀 (Ocean Reeve Publishing 2022), I spoke to many leaders who were looking forward to putting the pandemic behind them, getting everyone back to work, and returning to traditional management techniques. This traditional mindset ignores, at great cost, the gains made through collaboration, team performance, and employee engagement that...
My coaching client, let’s call him Terry, was frustrated. Like many people, he valued harmony, and to achieve it he often didn’t speak up but when things didn’t go the way he thought they should. But, despite his best efforts, his frustration would often leak out, derailing his plans.
Harmony, I explained, takes work. It requires awareness of your own needs, wants, and beliefs as well as being curious about the needs, wants, and beliefs of others. With this awareness, you can communicate assertively to reach collaboration. In short, you must lean into difference rather than avoid it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
In this post, I share a framework that can help you have more harmony in your work and personal life.
A need, like food, water, clothing, and shelter, is a must-have. If a need is not met, we will consciously or unconsciously behave in ways to fulfill our needs. Beyond the physiological needs, Abraham Maslow...
Mentoring has a triple benefit. It benefits the mentor, the mentee, and the organization, so it is not surprising that people and culture, or human resource, departments are keen to set up mentoring programs. Why then do many mentoring programs fail, and what are the pitfalls?
The idea of mentoring can be traced back 3000-years to Homer's Odyssey. In this Ancient Greek epic poem, Odysseus entrusts his young son Telemachus to the care of a mentor, when he goes off to fight in the Trojan War. This history is likely the reason for the stereotype of the older, successful, man mentoring a young ambitious one. It also highlights the current need for those women, who have successfully navigated to the top, to mentor a new generation of women leaders.
In a modern and business context, mentoring can be defined as a developmental partnership between a Mentor, a leader with expertise in one or more areas, and a Mentee, an individual seeking learning and growth in these...
If you Google the term ‘leadership’, you get 2.2 Billion results! And, the definition doesn’t help much:
“Leadership is the action of leading”
– well that’s deep! And the synonyms include; authority, control, and management - all of which are at odds with many modern descriptions of effective leadership.
“There are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are people who have tried to describe the concept” (Bass, 1990)
I love this quote, partly because I myself am an author and keynote speaker on the topic of leadership, and because it highlights that to understand leadership, you have to consider the context.
Wait a moment. Before we decide on a definition of leadership, let us first ask, “Why Leadership?”
We need Leadership because the World is Complex and Changing Fast. You’ve probably heard the term VUCA. VUCA is an acronym coined by the US army and stands...
Career conversations are not performance reviews, and they are not necessarily about a pay rise. They are about utilizing talents, developing skills, and sustaining motivation.
The strength and sustainability of a company depend on attracting, retaining, and developing good talent, and career conversations are a vital part of this. Considering the importance of these conversations, many managers feel at a loss on how to have them, and employees don't know how to prepare for them.
Karin was frustrated. She felt taken for granted and knew she was being under-compensated. What added insult to injury was that her manager made no attempt to engage her about what she wanted, despite her driving one of the biggest and most complicated technology projects in the company's history.
Karin confided in me, during our coaching together, that she had started to look outside her firm because she didn’t feel recognized and was not being recompensed for the impact she was making.
Imagine you are traveling on a plane, there's a loud bang, and the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling.
The pilot comes out of the cockpit and says either:
a) “Obviously there's a bit of a problem, can you get into small groups and discuss options, as I would like full buy-in before I make a decision.”
b) “Ladies and gentlemen, put on your oxygen masks and remain calm; we are experiencing some difficulties but I will get us out of this”?
You chose b) right?
Clearly, in this situation, a crisis, a directive, or autocratic leadership style is appropriate and even appreciated.
At the start of the pandemic, I was coaching senior leaders to be more directive to give clear leadership and a sense that someone was in control - even if they were making adjustments on a daily basis.
Now, that we are used to living with Covid, and have adapted to a high level of autonomy with work-from-home, is a directive leadership style desirable or...
Many companies are, through policies, forcing a return to the workplace for full or part-time.
The often-stated rationale for mandatory attendance is the importance of in-person collaboration. Sounds logical - But not to a Wells Fargo IT executive who told me that he has been forced to return to work full-time in a cubical, on a floor with no other IT personnel, whilst his entire team is situated in different cities.
Apple employees are up-in-arms over a hybrid model of mandatory attendance on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Employees have written an open letter to the executive leadership team challenging the need for, and the possibility of, in-person collaboration within Apple’s siloed structure. This excerpt from the letter calls out the hypocrisy of the mandate from Tim Cook and his team.
“We tell all of our customers how great our products are for remote work, yet, we ourselves, cannot use them to work remotely? How can we expect our customers to take that...
Being an effective leader or manager in a post-pandemic world goes beyond being good at what you do; it requires balancing empathy with accountability.
The New Leadership Playbook provides a practical guide to being human and understanding people whilst simultaneously driving for, and delivering accelerated results.
It does this by sharing principles that work and plays to achieve success.
This is a book that you will not only read more than once, you will want each of your team to read and apply the tools within it.
In sports such as American football, set moves are often called a play. The aim is to move the ball down the field, but there are various plays to achieve this. Coaches and players keep a record of these plays in a playbook, so that they can be learned, rehearsed and executed.
When you lead people, you need to understand the principles of leadership and have plays for your team to effectively execute and achieve objectives. The New...