Positive Leadership has also been recognised as a Top 50 Leadership Expert to Follow on Twitter.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Commitment to Values

'If there is any lesson to be learned from the economic morass in which we now find ourselves, and into which we have been plunged by an army of amoral numbskulls, it is that it is not wealth, or size, or fame that matter but a commitment to values that transcend the blind pursuit of the buck and what it buys.'

Mickey Edwards spent 16 years in Congress and 16 years teaching at Harvard and Princeton. He is a director of The Constitution Project and wrote Reclaiming Conservatism: How a Great American Political Movement Got Lost--And How It Can Find Its Way Back.


Avoiding the Tendencies of Poor Leaders

Being the leader is hard, especially when you need to counter the natural tendencies that separate you from the people you manage. Knowing what these propensities are can help you avoid them. 

Here are our top three to watch out for:

  1. Self-deluding. This isn't just a problem with bosses; the majority of people estimate their skills to be higher than they are in reality. Be aware that you might be self-aggrandising and find ways to get input and evaluations that show you what your true skills are.
  2. Heedless of subordinates. Those in positions of power are watched carefully by those under them. But that level of attention is not reciprocated. When you become the head honcho, don't forget to remain curious about and engaged with your direct reports.
  3. Insulated from reality. No one wants to deliver bad news to the boss, so the boss often doesn't know the full story. Create a culture in which the messenger isn't shot, but lauded for bringing important information forward.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Best Leadership Practices from the Greatest Actors

Know your character. Do the self-reflection required to know who you are and where you come from, and what your strengths and values are. That preparation will enable you to show up and be a present leader, and to be available to the moment.

Walk the stage. You don’t have to live in the boardroom for a week before the presentation, but do what stage actors do. We walk the stage before performances so you know how many steps it is from chair to coffee table. If you walk the boardroom, you’ll know how to avoid the LCD light and which chair is most likely to trip you. 

Learn your lines. What’s your message? What do you want people to walk away with from your meeting or presentation? Make sure it’s brief and “sticky”. 


Leadership Lessons


Performing Under Pressure


Nordstom's Employee Handbook - Short and to the Point!

'Welcome to Nordstrom

We're glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use good judgement in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.'


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why Once Great Companies Fail

Jim Collins, in his book How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In spent four years researching how once great companies failed. He developed a five-stage model that describes the stages that each of these companies went though. They are:

1. Hubris born of success. Great companies can become insulated by success. People become arrogant, regarding success as an entitlement, and they lose sight of what made them successful in the first place.

2. Undisciplined pursuit of more. Companies stray from what led them to greatness in the first place and make undisciplined moves into areas where they can’t succeed.

3. Denial of risk and peril. Leaders discount negative data, amplify positive data, and post a positive spin on ambiguous data. They start to blame external factors rather than accept responsibility.

4. Grasping for salvation. They start looking for that “silver bullet” solution.

5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death. Turn out the lights, the fat lady is singing.

Collin’s recent work confirms that organisations don’t fail because of a lack of technical, functional, or business skills – it’s always because of some kind of collective destructive mindset and behaviours.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

John Wooden - Lessons in Leadership

When it comes to the topic of leadership, successful sports coaches often offer insights into how best to manage talented people. 

As the NFL’s Vince Lombardi once put it: “Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organisation – an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win – to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is.”

There are few coaches with a track record as illustrious as former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

Wooden was the first person to ever be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. In the last 12 years of Wooden’s tenure as head coach at UCLA, the team took home 10 championship titles. Seven of those championships were won back-to-back! For his momentous accomplishments, Wooden was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom – America’s highest civilian honour – in 2003, and was also the recipient of California State University’s John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award (which was, obviously, named after Mr. Wooden himself).

Wooden was famous for his “Pyramid of Success,” as well as his 12 lessons of leadership. Here are the 12 lessons:

Good values attract good people
Love is the most powerful four-letter word
Call yourself a teacher
Emotion is your enemy
It takes 10 hands to make a basket
Little things make big things happen
Make each day your masterpiece
The character is mightier than a stick
Make greatness attainable by all
Seek significant change
Don’t look at the scoreboard
Adversity is your asset

Given his hard-nosed determination, his ability to remain cool under pressure and the tremendous emphasis he placed on teamwork, Wooden was the consummate leader, and we’d all be wise to take his lessons to heart. None of them are easy to follow, but they are words to live by nonetheless.


Friday, August 27, 2010

The Importance of Values in Decision Making

Values are becoming the preferred mode of decision-making in business. 

If we use our values to make decisions, our decisions will align with the future we want to experience. Therefore, they can be used for making tough decisions in complex situation that we have not experienced before. 

When we use values in decision making, we are consciously creating the future we want to experience. Values are not constrained by the past and are adaptable to new situations. Since the world we live in, particularly the business world, is becoming increasingly complex, chaotic, and unpredictable, values provide a more flexible mode of decision-making than beliefs. 

Values are the anchors we use to make decisions so we can weather a storm. They keep us aligned with our authentic self. They keep us true to ourselves and the future we want to experience.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Essential Lessons on Management, Society and Economy

The Drucker Lectures: Essential Lessons on Management, Society and Economy focuses largely on how to effectively and ethically manage large institutions by striking a balance between their individual role with that of the common good. This is a timely, instructive, and prescient book particularly relevant for managers and leaders today.


Knowledge Gained from Failure Lasts Longer

While success is surely sweeter than failure, it seems failure is a far better teacher, and organisations that fail spectacularly often flourish more in the long run, according to a new study by Vinit Desai, assistant professor of management at the University of Colorado Denver Business School.

Desai's research, published in the Academy of Management Journal, focused on companies and organisations that launch satellites, rockets and shuttles into space – an arena where failures are high profile and hard to conceal.

Working with Peter Madsen, assistant professor at BYU School of Management, Desai found that organisations not only learned more from failure than success, they retained that knowledge longer.

"We found that the knowledge gained from success was often fleeting while knowledge from failure stuck around for years," he said. "But there is a tendency in organisations to ignore failure or try not to focus on it. Managers may fire people or turn over the entire workforce while they should be treating the failure as a learning opportunity."

The researchers said they discovered little "significant organisational learning from success" but added "we do not discount the possibility that it may occur in other settings."

Desai compared the flights of the space shuttle Atlantis and the Challenger. During the 2002 Atlantis flight, a piece of insulation broke off and damaged the left solid rocket booster but did not impede the mission or the programme. There was little follow-up or investigation.

The Challenger was launched next and another piece of insulation broke off. This time the shuttle and its seven-person crew were destroyed.

The disaster prompted the suspension of shuttle flights and led to a major investigation resulting in 29 recommended changes to prevent future calamities.

The difference in response in the two cases, Desai said, came down to this: The Atlantis was considered a success and the Challenger a failure.

"Whenever you have a failure it causes a company to search for solutions and when you search for solutions it puts you as an executive in a different mindset, a more open mindset," said Desai.

He said the airline industry is one sector of the economy that has learned from failures, at least when it comes to safety.

"Despite crowded skies, airlines are incredibly reliable. The number of failures is miniscule," he said. "And past research has shown that older airlines, those with more experience in failure, have a lower number of accidents."

Desai doesn't recommend seeking out failure in order to learn. Instead, he advised organisations to analyse small failures and near misses to glean useful information rather than wait for major failures.

"The most significant implication of this study…is that organisational leaders should neither ignore failures nor stigmatise those involved with them," he concluded in the June edition of the Academy of Management Journal, "rather leaders should treat failures as invaluable learning opportunities, encouraging the open sharing of information about them." 


Preparing for Excellence

In business, it is possible to build any given skill or capacity in the same systematic way we do a muscle in sport: push past your comfort zone, and then rest. Aristotle had it exactly right 2000 years ago: "We are what we repeatedly do." By relying on highly specific practices, you can dramatically improve skills ranging from empathy, to focus, to creativity, to summoning positive emotions, to deeply relaxing.

Numerous researchers now agree with the extraordinary Anders Ericsson, arguably the world's leading researcher into high performance, that 10,000 hours of ‘deliberate’ practice is the minimum necessary to achieve expertise in any complex domain.

It’s not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we're willing to work.

There is something wonderfully empowering about this. It suggests we have remarkable capacity to influence our own outcomes. But that's also daunting. One of Ericsson's central findings is that practice is not only the most important ingredient in achieving excellence, but also the most difficult and the least intrinsically enjoyable.

If you want to be really good at something, it's going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone, along with frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures. That's true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you've earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying.

Here are our six keys to achieving excellence:

Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.

Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That's when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.

Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.

Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.

Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolise and embed learning. It's also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.

Ritualise practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated - none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you'll take on difficult tasks is to ritualise them — build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rational Negotiation

There is a lot of negotiating going on in the world today, and a lot of it is showing up on the front pages of the newspapers.

There is an art and a science to good negotiating, and whether you are negotiating a cease-fire between countries or neighbours, here are some tips for you on how to become a better negotiator. These come from a book, Negotiating Rationally, by Drs. Max Bazerman and Margaret Neale of Northwestern University.

First, it's important to recognise that everyone negotiates - probably a lot more than you think. It's pretty obvious when you're buying a car or putting together a business deal. You're also negotiating when you want to go out to dinner and your spouse wants to stay home, or when your neighbour wants to put in a chain link fence and you'd prefer a hedge of shrubs.

The first thing that can help your negotiating skills is getting rid of the urge to win at all costs and the false idea that if one person wins, it means the other has to lose. The best solution is one in which each side gives a little and gets something, too. Good negotiators know how to paint a vivid picture of how their proposed solution will benefit both sides, and they focus on gains rather than losses.

They also know that building trust and sharing information are critical for negotiating in any long-term relationship. Finally, good negotiators have the ability to really put themselves in the other person's shoes, evaluate alternatives, and think creatively. Can you see yourself negotiating to settle differences in a way that makes everyone a winner? 


Creating a Culture of Greatness

To build a winning a team and a successful organisation you must create a culture of greatness.

It’s the most important thing a leader can do because culture drives behaviour, behaviour drives habits and habits create the future. As the leaders at Apple say, “Culture beats strategy all day long."

When you create a culture of greatness you create a collective mindset in your organisation that expects great things to happen—even during challenging times. You expect your people to be their best, you make it a priority to coach them to be their best and most of all you create a work environment that fuels them to be their best.

A culture of greatness creates an expectation that everyone in the organisation be committed to excellence. It requires leaders and managers to put the right people in the right positions where they are humble and hungry and willing to work harder than everyone else. A culture of greatness dictates that each person use their gifts and strengths to serve the purpose and mission of the organisation. And it means that you don’t just bring in the best people, but you also bring out the best in your people.

If you are thinking that this sounds like common sense, it is. But unfortunately far too many organisations expect their people to be their best but they don't invest their time and energy to help them be their best nor do they create an environment that is conducive to success. They want great results but they are not willing to do what it takes to create a culture of greatness.

A culture of greatness requires that you find the right people that fit your culture. Then you coach them, develop them, mentor them, train them and empower them to do what they do best. As part of this process you develop positive leaders who share positive energy throughout the organisation because positive energy flows from the top down. You also don’t allow negativity to sabotage the morale, performance and success or your organisation. You deal with negativity at the cultural level so your people can spend their time focusing on their work instead of fighting energy vampires. And you find countless ways to enhance communication, build trust and create engaged relationships that are the foundation upon which winning teams are built.

If creating a culture of greatness sounds like a lot of work, it is, but not as much work as dealing with the crises, problems and challenges associated with negative, dysfunctional and sub-par cultures. While most organisations waste a lot of time putting out fires you can spend your time building a great organisation that rises above the competition.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Failure: The Secret to Success


Positive Leadership

  • Do you feel that company leaders and managers at work appreciate you?
  • Do you regularly have the chance to do your best work? 
  • Do you have clarity on what is expected of you at work? 
  • Does your manager care about you and provide focus? 

Fully engaged people at work can answer these questions with a resounding yes!

Most of us start a job motivated to perform our best, but sometimes working for a poor manager can adversely affect your motivation. Positive leaders help people tap into their innovative spirit to improve performance.

The Brain Power of Negativity 

In Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, authors Dan and Chip Heath write about “finding the bright spots” in our work and lives. After extensive research, the two business school professors have documented myriad cases that prove how hard it is to overcome negativity’s pull.

In one study, for example, scientists analysed 558 words in the English language that denote emotions, and they found that 62% were negative (versus the 38% positive).

Across the board, no matter the situation or domain, we are wired to focus on bad over good.

• Example A: People who were shown photos of good and bad events spent more time viewing the latter.

• Example B: When people hear something bad about someone else, they pay more attention to it, reflect on it more, remember it longer and weigh it more when assessing that person. This tendency is called “positive-negative asymmetry.”

• Example C: A researcher reviewed 17 studies of how people interpret and explain events in their lives, such as how fans interpret sporting events or how students describe their days in a journal.
Across multiple domains — work, politics, sports, relationships — people were more likely to spontaneously bring up negative versus positive events.

“Bad is stronger than good,” the Heaths conclude. It’s no wonder performance reviews and feedback are usually aimed at what’s not working. Yet, individuals can override this brain tendency and focus on the positive, at least enough to create successful relationships both at work and home.

John Gottman, a psychologist who studies extensive marital conversations, finds that couples who sustain long-term marriages use language that reflects five times more positive statements than negative ones. In fact, he calls this “the magic ratio” and claims it will accurately predict if a marriage will last.

He urges managers to use a ratio of 5:1 positive statements in conversations with employees. Ask yourself: “What percentage of time do I spend solving problems in relation to the time I spend scaling successes?”

Given the advantages of a solution mindset, it’s surprising that more managers fail to gain a foothold in this managerial style. Remember: You can’t give praise and recognition if you see only the negative and focus on what’s broken.

Leaders at all levels need to improve their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do I regularly focus on the positive?” What actions can you take today to be a more positive leader? What activities unleash your people’s strengths? 

Companies need more great managers and leaders. 


How to Spot What the CEO Is Not Telling Investors

Corporate executives often highlight positives and downplay negatives, says S.P. Kothari, deputy dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management. But shareholders can learn to spot clues that managers are glossing over problems.


Monday, August 23, 2010


"Never underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all have the potential to turn a life around."

Leo Buscaglia


Changing your Beliefs

Do you ever catch yourself saying things like, "Nothing ever goes right for me?" If so, pay close attention to this post.

Do you think that nothing ever goes right for you? Do you believe that you are just an unlucky person, and that no matter what you do, you will probably fail? Well, you are right, but not for the reason you think.

Each one of us has a set of beliefs, and we act in accordance with those beliefs. Now, perhaps you had a few setbacks that you were taught to interpret as failures. Next thing you know, you have a belief about yourself that says, "I just can't succeed, no matter what."

Then, in order to make life match up with your belief (which is important for your sanity), you begin to act in ways that reinforce your belief. You may even unconsciously sabotage things, so that you will fail. But you will be acting like you know yourself to be, which is what all of us do. You create what is called a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So if you want to change your life, what you need to do is first change your beliefs. And yes, this is possible. Then, you will continue to act like yourself, but you will see yourself differently, so your behaviour will be different. And when you change your behaviour, you change the results. 


Sunday, August 22, 2010

10 Keys for Getting Value from the Values of Positive Leadership™

Many organisations have statements of mission and values. Unfortunately, most of them sound alike. Who could quibble with the importance of "respect" or "customer focus"? Values statements can seem like passive decoration for walls and the Web, easily ignored. And the words don't really tell anyone what to do in any specific sense.

But that doesn't mean that values don't matter. In organisations that embrace a culture of Positive Leadership™, widespread dialogue about the interpretation and application of leadership values enhances accountability, collaboration, and initiative and, when linked to business strategy, drives high performance.

Here are ten essential ingredients that make the values of Positive Leadership™ work to produce organisational value:

1.       Values are a priority for leaders, invoked often in their messages and on the agenda for management discussions.
2.       The entire work force can enter the conversation; employees are invited to discuss or interpret values and principles in conjunction with their peers, who help ensure alignment.
3.       Principles are codified, made explicit, transmitted in writing in many media, and reviewed regularly to make sure people understand and remember them.
4.       Statements about values and principles invoke a higher purpose, a purpose beyond current tasks that indicates service to society. This purpose can become part of the company's brand and a source of competitive differentiation.
5.       The words become a basis for on-going dialogue that guides debate when there is controversy or initial disagreement. Strategic decisions are supported by reference to particular values or principles.
6.       Principles guide choices, in terms of business opportunities to pursue or reject, or in terms of investments with a longer time horizon that might seem uneconomic today.
7.       As they become internalised by employees, values and principles can substitute for more impersonal or coercive rules. They can serve as a control system against violations, excesses, or veering off course.
8.       Actions reflecting values and principles — especially difficult choices — become the basis for iconic stories that are easy to remember and retell, reinforcing to employees and the world what the company stands for.
9.       Values are aspirational, signaling long-term intentions that guide thinking about the future.
10.   Principles, purpose, and values are discussed with suppliers, distributors, and other business partners, to promote consistent high standards everywhere.

In short, it's not the words that make a difference; it's the conversation. Frequent discussion about organisational leadership values can be engaging and empowering. The organisation becomes a community united by shared purpose, which reinforces teamwork and collaboration. People can be more readily relied on to do the right thing, and to guide their colleagues to do the same, once they buy into and internalise core principles. People can become more aware of the drivers and impact of their behaviour. And, active consideration of core values and purpose can unlock creative potential.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Engage Your Brain

Tom Peters uses an example from Dan Coyle's book, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. to show how much more effective you are when you're engaged with what you're doing. 

Sounds simple, but the example provides an argument for adding challenges to your work.


The Complicated Lives of Today's Leaders: Why Being at the Top Is Harder Than Ever

“You can get advice from a hundred places but the decision to make the call is yours. The buck stops with you." -- Sandilya Vadapalli, a Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum

The business world has grown massively more complex in recent years, but most companies are still stuck with management models that evolved in simpler times, a conversation with fellows at the World Economic Forum suggests. A more team-focused approach to leadership is needed if companies are to continue to thrive, argues Sandilya Vadapalli, one of the fellows. "The structures under which leaders operate have not changed with the times. You still have one person trying to deal with things that are too complex for one person," he says.


Friday, August 20, 2010

R. A. S.

Did you know that you have a built-in screening device that either admits or blocks information? 

The human nervous system contains a marvellous network of cells called the Reticular Activating System, or R.A.S. Its function is to screen out unimportant information that comes to you through your senses. 

So, when you set a goal, you declare a new significance - you make something important. And suddenly, information that never got through before is all around you. Did you ever decide to buy something - maybe a new HD television - and the next day all you see are advertisements for HD TV's? They were there all along, but now they're important to you, so you notice them.

Now, when you set a goal and declare its importance, you'll find yourself noticing opportunities to help you achieve it that you never knew were there before.


Values-Based Leadership

Steve Newberry, CEO of Lam Research Corporation, gives a keynote presentation based on his model of leadership. Newberry is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and the Harvard Graduate School of Business. He has more than 25 years of management and leadership experience in the high-tech industry. 


Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Surprising 'Science' of Motivation


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Excellence v Success

The best of the best make their life and work a quest for excellence and understand that there is a difference between success and excellence.

Success is often measured by comparison to others. Excellence, on the other hand, is all about being the best we can be and maximising our gifts, talents and abilities to perform at our highest potential.

We live in a world that loves to focus on success and loves to compare. We are all guilty of doing this. However, to be our best we must focus more on excellence and less on success. We must focus on being the best we can be and realise that our greatest competition is not someone else but ourselves.

For example, coaching legend John Wooden often wouldn’t tell his players who they were playing each game. He felt that knowing the competition was irrelevant. He believed that if his team played to the best of their ability they would be happy with the outcome. In fact, John Wooden never focused on winning. He had his team focus on teamwork, mastering the fundamentals, daily improvement and the process that excellence requires. As a result he and his teams won A LOT.

A focus on excellence was also the key for golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. His secret was to play the course not the competition. He simply focused on playing the best he could play against the course he was playing. While others were competing against Jack, he was competing against the course and himself.

The same can be said for Apple’s approach with the iPod, iPhone and iPad. When they created these products they didn’t focus on the competition. Instead they focused on creating the best product they could create. As a result, rather than measuring themselves against others they have become the measuring stick.

We have a choice as individuals, organisations and teams. We can focus on success and spend our life looking around to see how our competition is doing, or we can look straight ahead towards the vision of greatness we have for ourselves and our teams. We can look at competition as the standard or as an indicator of our progress towards our own standards. We can chase success or we can embark on a quest for excellence and focus 100% of our energy to become our best... and let success find us.

Ironically, when our goal is excellence the outcome and by product is often success. 


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How a 'Non-Policy' on Holidays Can Be The Break You Need

Silicon Valley success story, Netflix, shows how a non-policy on holidays can provide the break you need. 

The idea is that freedom and responsibility, long considered fundamentally incompatible, actually go together quite well.

In much white-collar work today, where one good idea can be orders of magnitude more valuable than a dozen mediocre ones, the link between the time you spend and the results you produce is murkier. Results are what matter. How you got there, or how long it took, is less relevant.

In contrast to the Netflix story, most of us believe the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money - the 'carrot-and-stick' approach.

However as Daniel H. Pink says in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us - and as the Netflix story shows - this is a mistake.

Instead, the secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life. He demonstrates that while carrots and sticks worked successfully in the twentieth century, that’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges. 

In Drive, he examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose—and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action. 

Drive is the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live. 


Monday, August 16, 2010

The Anatomy of a Lie

Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception explains how we can navigate a world where lying is second nature, and how to move from lie-spotting to truth-seeking, and finally to trust-building.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Motivating Your Staff

One of the biggest issues that frustrates our clients is the level of motivation of their employees. Often, they feel  their employees are not proactive enough, and that they do not take initiative in their roles.

There are three reasons why this is happening - centred around how you, as their leader, and your managers are communicating to them (and with them) and what type of messages you are sending, and/or they are receiving. In some organisations the mixed signals equate to a labyrinth:

1) They don't know you want them to do something.

2) They are unmotivated and don't care enough to do what they are being asked to do.

3) There are de-motivators in the environment that are preventing them from doing what they have been asked/want to do.

A great resource for understanding and addressing the manifold scenarios that may be causing the performance problem is the book, Analyzing Performance Problems: Or, You Really Oughta Wanna--How to Figure out Why People Aren't Doing What They Should Be, and What to do About It by Robert Mager. 


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Encouraging Early Entrepreneurship

We have written recently about the true national challenge being the need to create jobs - http://positiveleadershiplimited.blogspot.com/2010/08/creating-new-jobs.html - and we have also pointed to the role of business in helping to support education - http://positiveleadershiplimited.blogspot.com/2010/08/great-teaching.html.

Encouraging early entrepreneurship and developing business leadership skills in young people is another way of creating the conditions that create jobs and secure the future. Getting young people to think about a business they could start and into the entrepreneurial habit earlier in life can help jump-start jobs.

Here is one great idea which Positive Leadership supports fully, which many leading companies around the world are already backing and which could easily be replicated in the United Kingdom:



Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done is about getting the right things done – about producing positive results.

If purpose is your “why,” and vision is your “what,” then executing is your “how.”  

So, what approach or process do you use to foster a discipline of action?

How do you measure your leadership?    


The Red Arrows Set The Standard Each Day At Every Level

The Red Arrows build every show around a focus or centre point, and build their team around shared values. Without shared values, peak performance is not possible. Team values must align with an organisation’s purpose, mission, and actions.

At what level does your team operate? It’s time to raise the bar.

Practice #1: Put the Team First

Teamwork isn’t a part time activity. Each member represents the team at all times. Putting teams first is a 24/7 commitment. Their ideas, their voice, their well-being, their efforts; these are most important. Significant and sustainable results follow empowered and cohesive teams.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ~ Henry Ford

Practice #2: Walk the Talk

Effective leaders are honest and transparent, and they lead by positive example. This, along with practice #1, forms the foundation of a successful team.

Successful leaders embrace the power of teamwork by tapping into the innate strengths each person brings to the table.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him….But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves‘. ~ Lao Tzu

What’s your level of trust in others? Are you aligned with your values? Do you walk the talk?

Practice #3: Maintain Peak Performance

Peak performance requires we take time to rest, reflect, and recharge our batteries.

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists of eliminating the non-essentials.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Practice #4: Communicate Vertically and Horizontally

Every member of the team requires clear and effective communication to accomplish their job. At this level of performance, there can be no questions or doubt concerning communication. Does your team communicate openly and honestly?

“All of us perform better and more willingly when we know why we’re doing what we have been told or asked to do.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Practice #5: Prepare to Win

Visualise yourself accomplishing the task at hand. Then do it together with your team.

“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” ~ Louis E.Boone

Practice #6: Capitalise on Synergy

Synergy happens when common people align around common goals. Making the team means doing what it takes to fulfill the mission. Each member has a role in the team’s success

“Synergy is the highest activity of life; it creates new untapped alternatives; it values and exploits the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people.” ~ Stephen Covey

Does your team prepare to win? Do you?

Practice #7: Clarify procedures

Each team member must know procedures. Every situation requires a proper response. Success comes when preparation meets opportunity.

Practice #8: Foster Positive Attitudes

A can-do attitude make the impossible possible.

“I’m so optimistic I’d go after Moby Dick in a row-boat and take the tartar sauce with me.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Practice #9: Strive for Excellence

By confronting our failures we come closer to reaching perfection. Every team member must earn the right to wear the crest. When each team member accepts full responsibility and strives for excellence, both trust and performance increase exponentially and the team is ready to take off!

“If you did not care at all what anyone else thought about you, what would you do differently or change in your life?” ~ Brian Tracy

Practice #10: Attitude Leads to Altitude

Just in case you didn’t pick up on the importance of #8. You can do all the right things to make your team go, but without the fuel of an unwavering positive attitude, your team and your performance will never soar above the clouds.

“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.” ~ Charles Swindoll

Is your team ready to take off and reach new levels of success? Are you?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Great Teaching

Great teaching is the centre piece of a strong education; everything else revolves around it.’ 

Bill Gates, speaking to the American Federation of Teachers, 
10 July 2010

One example of how business can contribute to education in a very meaningful way is IBM's 'Transition to Teaching' Programme. T
hrough this initiative, which was launched in 2005, IBM is helping address the critical shortage of maths and science teachers in the USA by leveraging the brains and backgrounds of some of its most experienced employees, enabling them to become fully accredited teachers in their local communities upon electing to leave the company.

The Future is in Our Classrooms - Pledge version from TakePart on Vimeo.

For more, see - 


Great Teaching is the Centre-Piece of a Strong Education

'Great teaching is the centre-piece of a strong education; everything else revolves around it. This is the main finding of our foundation’s work in education over the past ten years.

I have to admit – that is not where we started. Our work in schools began with a focus on making high schools smaller, in the hope of improving relationships to drive down dropout rates and increase student achievement.

Many of the schools we worked with made strong gains, but others were disappointing. The schools that made the biggest gains in achievement did more than make structural changes; they also improved teaching. If great teaching is the most powerful point of leverage – how are we going to help more teachers become great?

In 2008 and 2009, our foundation partnered with Scholastic on a national survey to learn the views of 40,000 teachers on crucial questions facing your profession.

Teachers said in huge numbers that they don’t get enough feedback. They’re not told how they can improve. When I was working in software, many times I would look at the computer code someone wrote and I’d say: “Oh, wow, this guy is good. That’s better than what I would have written. What process did he go through? How did he model it?” Whenever I found someone great, I would study how they worked. I looked at every factor that made that person successful.

This happens in a lot of fields.

Some of you may have read a book by Steven Jay Gould about baseball. Gould explains that in the 1920s and ’30s, there was a big gap between the highest and lowest batting averages. But over time, people learned from each other, the gap narrowed – and the average hitter today is much closer to the best hitter.

That’s an important mark of a profession: the difference between the average and the great becomes smaller – because everyone is eager to get better, and they’re doing everything they can to learn from the best. That trend improves the entire profession. But it requires a process: you have to identify the skills of the best and transfer them to everyone else.

That hasn’t been happening enough in teaching. And that give us a big opportunity.

This is the work our foundation is trying to foster in Pittsburgh, Hillsborough County, and other communities that have agreed to be part of two projects we’re funding: the Measures of Effective Teaching project, and our Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching.

The first of these projects addresses a big gap in our knowledge: There has been a lot of research done about the impact of effective teaching, but little research has been done on what makes teaching effective.

That’s the research we’re doing now with nearly 3,000 teachers in six school districts who have volunteered to open their classrooms to visitors, to video cameras, to new assessments, to watching themselves teach and talking about their practice. Many of these teachers are members of the AFT. I want to thank those of you who are here today for being part of this project.

They’ll put special focus on classes that showed big student gains and try to map it backwards to identify the most effective teaching practices. They’ll also look for what doesn’t work. If a struggling new teacher comes to a veteran colleague and asks: ―What am I doing wrong? –  he should get an evidence-based answer. Some years ago, if you wanted to watch a great teacher, you had to find one who was teaching in your building during the hour you had free. But today, every teacher should be able to watch great teachers – to see how a master in classroom management handles a disruptive student, or how a great geometry teacher makes a proof interesting. Even just watching your own class can offer huge insight. One teacher in Hillsborough County said: “It’s amazing how much you can learn when you just sit and watch yourself teach.”

No one can choose a world without change. We choose only whether we drive change or react to it. If you want teachers unions to lead a revolution in American education, please remember: sometimes the most difficult act of leadership is not fighting the enemy; it’s telling your friends it’s time to change.'

Bill Gates 


Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs


Are You a Genius or a Genius Maker?

Are you a genius or a genius maker? 

We've all had experience with two dramatically different types of leaders.

The first type drains intelligence, energy, and capability from the people around them and always needs to be the smartest person in the room. These are the idea killers, the energy sappers, the diminishers of talent and commitment. On the other side of the spectrum are leaders who use their intelligence to amplify the capabilities of the people around them. When these leaders walk into a room, light bulbs go off over people's heads; ideas flow and problems get solved. These are the leaders who inspire employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations. These are the Multipliers. And the world needs more of them, especially now when leaders are expected to do more with less.

In this video, Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown visit Google to discuss their book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. They share the research behind Multipliers and illustrate the resoundingly positive and profitable effect these Multipliers have on organisations -- how they get more done with fewer resources, develop and attract talent, and cultivate new ideas and energy to drive organisational change and innovation. They introduce the five disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers. 

The good news is that these five disciplines are not based on innate talent; indeed they are skills and practices that everyone can learn to use, even lifelong and recalcitrant Diminishers. 

Just imagine what you could accomplish if you could harness all the energy and intelligence around you!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Creating New Jobs

We can career-counsel people all we want about how to find jobs, but the true challenge now is how to create jobs. The private sector, and particularly the SME sector, is the ultimate engine of job creation; but even the best engine can use a jump-start.

Here is one idea:

Partnerships for job creation. While big companies have tended to be net job-shedders, they create jobs through the small and mid-sized enterprises in their supply and distributions chains. Big can power small. Imagine a national partnership in which big companies pledge to enhance the capabilities of domestic suppliers by providing mentors, investment capital, opportunities in export markets and use of offices abroad, and even insurance benefits as part of a larger pool.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Leader's Learning

There are three aspects of a personal learning strategy that are critical to the effective learning of eminent performers, senior executives and successful professionals:

First, the strategy must include a method for extracting insight from experience. This allows a leader to gain from the challenges life continually dishes up, including the crucible experiences that define them as leaders. 

Second, a leader’s learning strategy must be driven by a powerful aspiration that encourages growth and adaptation. 

Third, the learning strategy must be built around a concept and regimen of deliberate practice that connects learning and performance. 

Source: Thomas, R. (2008).What leaders can learn from expert performers. Leader to Leader, 2008 (50), p28-33.