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

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Positive Leadership and Elite Sport

Positive Leadership Limited helps leaders throughout an organisation excel under pressure. Our advice assists clients solve critical strategic issues, accelerate growth and enhance financial performance. We equip leaders at all levels with the values, confidence and practical skills necessary to succeed and win consistently in a highly competitive environment.  

The Values of Positive Leadership™ are the keys to unlocking the strategy for delivering high performance and optimum results under pressure. We draw extensively on thought leadership from international business and elite sport in our consulting work. 

For more information on how our advice might help you and your team excel under pressure, please contact: graham.watson@positiveleadership.co.uk


Creating Meaningful Corporate Values

Andrew Cosslett has been Chief Executive of IHG since February 2005. IHG is the World’s largest hotel company operating over 4,100 hotels under brands such as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental. 

Here he talks about how to turn your front-line into raving fans of your corporate values and why bringing passion into the business is so important for all winning organisations. Don't just talk about your values, live them!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Servant Leadership In the Workplace

An exceptional recent study of 815 employees and 123 supervisors published in the Journal of Applied Psychology makes a very strong argument for the value of servant leadership at work. 

The authors found that the practice of servant leadership had important implications for both individuals and the groups they worked in. The study found that servant leadership enhanced both the self-efficacy and the commitment to the supervisor of the individual employee. At the group level, servant leadership lead to employees’ perception that they were treated fairly (justice climate) and the shared perception customer service was expected, supported, and rewarded (positive service climate). These individual and group effects combined to produce a significant impact on the organisational citizenship behaviour of individual employees.

Employees that are good organisational citizens go above and beyond their formal job descriptions. If everyone in an organisation only did what was required of them, the organisation would be mediocre at best. Organisational excellence requires a critical mass of employees doing more than what is officially recognised and rewarded. The extant research has demonstrated organisational citizenship behaviour is strongly associated with employee task performance, organisational productivity, and customer satisfaction.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Asking the Right Questions

Today, we would like to suggest a way to ask questions that will help you change your focus from problems to solutions.

If you want to make your communications as effective as possible, and if you're interested in finding solutions to problems rather than becoming bogged down in them, we have a suggestion that will help. If you ask the right questions, you can direct your communications to get answers that are genuinely helpful.

For example, if you ask someone, “What's wrong?” you will get an answer - often a long one - which will focus on the problem. But if you ask, “What do you want?” or “How would you like to change things,” you have redirected the conversation from the problem to the solution.

In every situation, no matter how dark or dismal, there is a desirable outcome. You can convince people, including yourself, to focus on that outcome, by avoiding questions that ask “why” and choosing “how” or “what” questions instead.

So, instead of asking your boss why you didn’t get a raise, ask him, or her, what you need to do in order to justify a salary increase. And, instead of demanding from your employees why they didn’t make the sale, ask them what they can do differently so they will be certain to make the next one.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Companies Can Develop Critical Thinkers and Creative Leaders

This article was written by Col. Bernard Banks, a faculty member in the Department of Behavioural Sciences & Leadership at West Point and a Colonel in the United States Army.

'Today's leaders are continually cajoled to act as "outside-the-box" thinkers. Such pronouncements give the impression the only sound solutions are ones never previously conceived. However, what industry and the military really strive to produce are leaders possessing strong critical and creative thinking skills. Both implicitly eschew the notion that a box even exists. What can industry learn from the military about how to advance the development of such leaders? One tangible example is how to construct and execute experiential training while continuing to meet the needs of customers and stakeholders.

Today's organisations operate in what the U.S. Army War College defines as a VUCA environment. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are constant realities in the 21st century. The military seeks to prepare for the challenges it will inevitably face by crafting realistic training scenarios and routinely integrating such activities into its ongoing operations. The goal is not to teach them what to think, but to enhance their ability to think critically and creatively about the myriad of contingencies posed by a fluid environment — in essence to teach them how to think.

In industry, 90% of time is typically devoted to executing business actions, and less than 10% is allocated for increasing organisational and individual capabilities through training. The military, on the other hand, spends as much time training as it does executing — even in the midst of high stress/high risk operations. A unit in Afghanistan or Iraq will not suspend its experiential training program while involved in combat operations, because its ability to cogently and creatively address future challenges is enhanced by an enduring commitment to improving people's competence and adaptability through experiential exercises, as well as actual experiences. But the real lesson for industry leaders is not simply that training is important. What's really valuable is how the military crafts its training opportunities.

The Army defines leadership as both accomplishing the mission and improving the organisation. Permanently improving the organisation requires the development of its human capital. The military believes you substantively improve people by improving their ability to adroitly address challenges in their environment. Therefore, we do not seek to confine people's thinking by restricting the solutions available to them, unless the proposed action violates any of these criteria: is it immoral, unsafe, unethical, or illegal?

In order to have people wrestle with what it takes to conceive of action plans where the aforementioned criteria constitute their only boundaries, the military structures its experiential training activities with wide parameters. Events are constructed to reflect ambiguity in the operating environment (while also targeting specific organisation needs). Leaders are responsible for setting the conditions in every training event and resourcing them appropriately, as well as for reminding participants throughout the exercises that there are a myriad of potentially elegant solutions to each ill-defined challenge.

Two other things are important to take away from the military practice of engaging in routine experiential training. First, feedback is crucial. The military practice of conducting intermediate and final after-action reviews (AARs) — in which all participants examine the planning, preparation, execution, and follow-up of any significant organizational initiative — fosters a learning culture. Second, coaching is required to translate feedback into behavioural changes. Research has demonstrated that feedback without coaching  rarely results in behavioural changes. So, all leaders must develop their capacity to coach others. Reflection and dialog lie at the heart of development. Experiential training creates the impetus for both to occur.

If you wait for the right time to train it'll rarely occur. Today is the opportunity to prepare for tomorrow, regardless of how much else is going on.'


Friday, November 26, 2010

Persistence Wins!


You must have more than your fair share to succeed. There's plenty of advice out there about knowing when to give up!

Tom Peters' advice? Hold out longer than anyone thinks is wise.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all followers of the Positive Leadership Blog and especially to all our friends in the USA. 

Please remember at this special time thaeveryone we interact with is a chance to create a remarkable experience.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Aligning Behaviour Around Values

Leaders intent on optimising performance and results need to recognise the importance of aligning everyone around a single set of core leadership values; defined as the behaviours and activities essential to the organisation's success. 

Here are four steps to align behaviours with core leadership values:

1) Start by listing your core leadership values and related performance measures.
2) Next brainstorm the associated behaviours that support these core leadership values.
3) Share this list with other people in the organszation and solicit their feedback.
4) Incorporate the core leadership behaviours into your performance appraisals and assessments.

This process can be done regularly and will result in an organisation whose behaviours are well aligned around its core leadership values.

For more on the Values of Positive Leadership™ and how our approach of building strategy around these values can help maximise profitability, please contact: graham.watson@positiveleadership.co.uk


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What is an Authentic Organisation?

An organisation is authentic when its actions, its character, and its sense of purpose are aligned with and support each other. 

An organisation can be authentic only when: 
  • The organisation knows ‘who it is” and what characteristics make it distinctive. 
  • People in the organisation understand why these distinctive features are meaningful.
  • The organisation knows what it is striving to create in this world. It has a sense of purpose that goes beyond the products and services it offers.
  • The organisation knows how its distinctiveness fuels and adds unique insight to the pursuit of organisation’s purpose.
  • The organisation has a few signature actions, behaviours and products that bring to life the organisation’s meaning, and move it towards its purpose.
  • Both the purpose and the distinctive, meaningful characteristics of the organisation resonate with stakeholders and draw members, customers, and constituencies to the organisation.
  • The organisation actively supports its members, customers, and constituencies in their own authenticity as they work with the organisation to achieve its purpose.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Positive Leadership

A Positive Leadership strategy will help you optimise the profitability of your business.

For more information on how we can help your business succeed under pressure, please contact: gavin.hastings@positiveleadership.co.uk


Sunday, November 21, 2010

It Is About You

When we think about the best bosses, we think of pride-builders. Pride-builders are experts at engaging the emotional commitment of employees. They do this with a laser-like focus on making their people feel good about the work they have to do — whatever it may be — and take pride in giving their personal best every day.

In the excerpt below, Robert Sutton, the author of  Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst reminds us that there are important emotional and informal elements to leading people, and that some leadership qualities are more important than others in this regard. One of the more telling qualities, he says, is an acute sense of self-awareness. This is certainly true for pride-builders. If they didn’t understand how others perceived and responded to them, they could not hope to frame their actions in ways that motivate and energise their followers emotionally as well as rationally.

Excerpted from Chapter 9 of Good Boss, Bad Boss:

‘How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst

Last year, I led a workshop at Stanford on being a good boss during tough times. As we walked to lunch afterwards, a manager from the session told me about his boss. A few weeks earlier, a secretary in his office walked up to this vice-president and asked, “When are the layoffs coming?” The boss was stunned. He had no clue how she discovered big cuts were in the offing: the decision had just been made and extreme care had been taken to keep it under wraps. When the bewildered VP asked how she knew, the secretary answered that when bad news was coming, he couldn’t bring himself to look his people in the eye. This VP had what poker players call a “tell,” a habit or quirk that revealed when he was hiding something (bad news in this case). The codeword among his charges was, “The boss is wearing interesting shoes today.”

The “interesting shoes” story reflects a pervasive theme…that…distinguishes the best from the worst bosses: If you are a boss, your success depends on staying in tune with how others think, feel, and react to you. Bosses who persistently promote performance and humanity devote considerable energy to reading and responding to followers’ feelings and actions, and those of other key players like superiors, peers, and customers. Of course, there is no single magical or simple thing that defines a great boss…anyone who promises you an easy or instant pathway to success is ignorant or dishonest, or both. The moves that great bosses make are too complex, varied, messy, and unpredictable to be captured by any single theme, slogan, or set of steps.

Yet some skills and aspirations are more important than others. Developing and sustaining self-awareness ought to be at the top of the list for every boss. David Dunning of Cornell University shows that a hallmark of poor performers is they lack self-awareness, consistently overestimating their skills in just about any task that requires intellectual and social skills, such as debating, having a sense of humour, or interviewing others. In contrast, Dunning finds that self-awareness is a hallmark of the best performers — they are especially cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses, and fret about overcoming pitfalls that can undermine their performance. 

When it comes to bosses, one implication is the best might laugh at the VP in the “interesting shoes” story. But they also realise that they could easily be that guy — that every boss is prone to bouts of cluelessness and to forgetting how closely followers track every little thing they do. The best bosses reduce the risk of self-delusion by seeking and responding to hints and hard data about how others read their moods and moves. They urge followers to challenge them with enlightening — and disconcerting — questions, like when the VP’s secretary asked, “When are the layoffs coming?” They want their followers (and bosses, peers, and customers, too) to keep feeding them such information, no matter how unpleasant and unflattering, because they are obsessed with how their words and deeds are interpreted by others.

The upshot is, to be a great boss, you’ve got to think and act as if “it is all about you.” Your success depends on being fixated on yourself. On the surface, this conclusion clashes with advice from many gurus and experts. Former GE CEO Jack Welch and Stanford’s Robert Joss (dean of the Graduate School of Business for a decade), for example, implore managers, “It’s not about you.” I agree with the spirit of this advice, as the aim is to discourage bosses from falling prey to their most selfish and destructive instincts. Yet I question the words because most bosses, like most human beings, are remarkably self-obsessed — and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the worst are selfish, are oblivious to their charges, and cling to dangerous delusions about their magnificent leadership skills. The best are equally self-obsessed, but have different motivations. Their obsession isn’t for egotistical or for selfish reasons. On the contrary, they focus on controlling their moods and moves, accurately interpreting their impact on others, and making adjustments on the fly because they want their people to produce work that others will admire — and to feel respect and dignity along the way.’


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Use Failure to Grow Your Business

How can companies plan and pursue an aggressive growth agenda with confidence? By framing their strategic growth opportunities, testing assumptions, and creating a culture that acts on evidence and learning. (An interview with Rita McGrath, Professor, Columbia Business School.)


Friday, November 19, 2010

Dominating Leaders Make Worse Decisions

Powerful leaders make worse decisions by dominating their colleagues into silence, a new study from the London School of Economics (LSE) has found (http://gradworks.umi.com/33/53/3353459.html).

According to the LSE study, entitled The Downside of Looking Like a Leader, strong leaders may also be worse managers because they give off such an impression of power that their colleagues’ opinions are stifled.

The study suggests that while it is important for leaders to exude authority and competence, the evidence suggests that appearing too powerful will inhibit their team members from expressing an opinion. This harms the ability to make good decisions by excluding arguments and evidence from the decision-making process.

The study’s authors point out that to dominate the decision-making process may be damaging in a business world loaded with specialist and technical information, where team members often know more about a specific subject than their leader and where participative decision-making is accepted as more effective.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Doing What We Already Know

In the final round of the 2006 World Match Play Event, professional golfer Stephen Ames loses to Tiger Woods “nine and eight” (almost as badly as it’s possible to lose in match play). One month later, he surges six strokes ahead of his closest competitor (and fifteen strokes ahead of Tiger Woods), to win the Tournament Players Championship and take home the biggest check in golf history at the time ($1,440,000). How did he make it happen?

One answer may be the fact that the biggest obstacle in performance isn’t not knowing what to do; it’s not doing what we already know. 

So what keeps us from doing what we know? Typically, it’s interference—or more often, interFEARence—created by those external and internal factors that slow us down, immobilise us, and keep us from performing at our best. By shifting what you pay attention to and how you pay attention, the resulting performance improvement can be dramatic.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Positive Leadership Limited - The Power of Sound Advice™

For more information, please contact: graham.watson@positiveleadership.co.uk


Building Power and Leadership

When Ann Moore was on her way to becoming CEO of Time Inc., before women were found in top management ranks, she won loyalty by, among other things, spreading a perquisite of her magazine publisher job to peers and subordinates: preferred seats at the best sporting events in New York. Across the Atlantic, Maurice Levy was appointed CEO of Publicis while still a junior employee, in part because of his fervent commitment when the headquarters in Paris caught on fire, and he ran into the offices to rescue client files.

High achievers don't turn into leaders, even if they seem to have the right skills, without the power that comes from going beyond the letter of the job and doing the 'Extras':

1. Colleagueship. Being a good colleague means helping the entire group achieve results even when you're not in charge — for example, by filling in for an absent colleague, turning up at a special event that's not required, or helping with ideas and information for someone else's project. Colleagueship is considered a sign of whether someone can take on bigger leadership responsibilities in a flat, decentralised organisation.

2. Opening doors. Power to the connectors! Those who rise to leadership keep their virtual Rolodex rolling. They know enough about others to spot something of interest to them and pass it on, opening doors or making key introductions. In the new networked companies, connectors are the go-to people, the must-haves at meetings. The effects are viral. The more they connect, the more connections come to them.

3. Extra resources. Being a giver is powerful, especially when the gift is unexpected. Sprinkling small amounts of money or opportunities around the organisation can build enormous goodwill, for example; funding dinners for a hard-working project team or providing seed money for expenses for promising innovations. Using personal resources can matter even more, such as donations to colleagues favourite charities.

4. Framing issues. Being the first to name an issue shows leadership. One big Extra in any endeavour is to identify new opportunities or unsolved problems, and then convene conversations around them. With self-organising now a major operating mode, the people who set the agenda also set themselves up as potential leaders. It's not necessary to ask anyone's permission to lead; the self-organisers just do it.

5. Strong commitment. Some people falsely equate commitment with hours worked. But commitment is about quality, not quantity. This Extra involves the verve or passion which potential leaders convey about the mission and the singular focus they exhibit when doing each piece of work. Other people want to be led by committed leaders, not those whose eyes are always on another project or who make it clear that other parts of their lives matter more to them.

6. External diplomacy. Civic boards or charitable causes can groom leaders, and even more so if one's own organisation has an interest in the cause. Joining professional associations or industry networks and carrying information back and forth to and from the home team can also build internal power. Being a good ambassador externally reverberates internally.

Extras serve as signs of whether a person can be entrusted with major decisions or control over assets that requires doing what needs to be done regardless of formal requirements. They show that the leader will take care of others and the organisation.

At the same time, Extras carry a tinge of unfairness. Extras can be tapped more readily from jobs with discretionary budgets, or that face outward, toward clients and customers. In contrast, people holding more routine, internally-facing jobs have fewer automatic chances to show leadership. That group often includes women, who are disproportionately concentrated in staff jobs such as the Ps of personnel, public relations, and purchasing. Moreover, women who might be time-constrained by family obligations don't always have the time for Extras.

But not every Extra is out of the reach of determined potential leaders. Commitment and colleagueship are largely under individuals' control, and they build a better work community for everyone.

If the why and how of Extras can be discussed more openly, perhaps they can become more universally attainable. So consider this list both a How-To guide and a manifesto for change.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Enduring Truths About Leadership

Here are ten enduring truths about leadership, backed by research carried out over the years:

You make a difference: Before you can lead, you have to believe you can make a positive impact on others. You have to believe in yourself.

Credibility is the foundation of leadership: As well as believing in yourself, you have to behave in a way that will spur belief in you. If people don’t believe in you, they won’t willingly follow you.

Values drive commitment: People want to know what you believe in and you need to know what others treasure if you are going to create the commitment needed to bring everyone together into a powerful force.

Focusing on the future sets leaders apart: Leaders need the capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities. They need a long-term perspective.

You can’t do it alone: Leadership is a team sport.

Trust is paramount: If you rely on others, you will need their trust. That will only come if you trust them first.

Challenge is the crucible for greatness: Exemplary leaders don’t maintain the status quo, they change it. Change invariably involves challenge, and challenge tests you. It introduces you to yourself. It brings you face-to-face with your level of commitment, your grittiness, and your values.

You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all: Leaders must keep their promises, and be role models for the values and actions they espouse.

The best leaders are the best learners: Learning is the master skill of leadership.

Leadership is an affair of the heart: Leaders respect their colleagues and their constituents. They make others feel important, and graciously show appreciation. And they love their work, or they wouldn’t be successful at it. 


Monday, November 15, 2010

HP's New Leadership: A Vision for the Future?

New Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker and non-executive board chairman Ray Lane took over the reins at the technology giant on 1st November and their to-do list was daunting. Apotheker, the former CEO of business software company SAP, needs to convince doubters he is the right leader for HP, do battle with rivals such as IBM, Oracle and Apple, and set the company's long-term strategy. In addition, Apotheker must maintain the efficiency the company enjoyed under former CEO Mark Hurd, while gaining the buy-in from employees that his embattled predecessor reportedly lacked.


Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life

An interview with Stewart Friedman, Professor, University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and author of Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life

Traditional thinking pits work and the rest of our lives against each other. But taking smart steps to integrate work, home, community, and self will make you a more productive leader and a more fulfilled person.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Military Skill Sets Lead to Organisational Success

What value does the military have for an organisation? 

World class, combat honed, and expansive skill sets in strategic planning, wargaming (competitor-on-competitor role play), competitive intelligence, leader development, rigorous standard enforcement, and innovation in execution are only a few of the cutting edge managerial skill sets that the military brings. Additionally, military veteran-to-CEO success stories such as Ken Hicks (Foot Locker) and Bob McDonald (P&G) credit military ethical foundations, decision making skills, practical leadership, and teamwork, and the focus of life-or-death situations that quickly developed them into decisive leaders focused on excellence, execution, and best-in-class performance.

For the organisation, the value of the military-to-organisation skill set transition comes when military skills and methodologies are translated into the context that creates the greatest value for the organisation.  

The military has a wide range of skill sets and proficiencies that business needs:

Intelligence: The military excels at systematic and ongoing analysis of competitors as well as how the operating environment influences the outcome and potential success of an operation. Additionally, a uniform, frequent, and ongoing intelligence effort provides a common competitive assessment to an organisation. In an organisation's leadership, how many leaders have a common view of competitive threats? How often is the competitive analysis updated?

Planning and Preparation: The creation of a timely, comprehensive, and structured plan is the hallmark of military operational planning. Many organisations do this well. However, what most organisations lack is the creation of multiple contingency plans, the use of wargaming or competitor-on-competitor scenarios, and mission rehearsals to ensure a flawless execution.

Execution: This requires the ability to rapidly adjust and improvise when an operation does not go according to plan. 

Team Leadership: The value of good leadership goes beyond the team being led. Good team leadership extends into leadership by example and positive role models that can inspire throughout the organisation.

Subordinate Development: The military uses a process known as the performance counseling session employed by the immediate supervisor of a military member to address what the military member did well, what they need to improve, and the plan of action to make them a better overall contributor. This inherent subordinate development process is of extraordinary value for an organisation because it makes every employee in the organisation better.

Military veterans and military techniques, when applied properly to an organisation's culture and business processes, can bring value to corporations, charities, non-governmental organisations and educational institutions. All of these organisations can benefit in vast and immediate ways through the application of military skills to their operations.


Go Beyond What You Think Is Possible


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Getting the Whole Leadership Picture

Setting a leadership strategy first requires a comprehensive understanding of leadership in your organisation. This begins with individual talent and competencies, but it doesn't end there. The ability of formal and informal leaders to pull together ultimately makes the difference in whether you accomplish your goals.

To get a full picture of leadership, you should consider:

  1. The quantity of leaders needed, as indicated by current and projected formal leadership positions depicted on an organisation chart (number, level, location, function, business unit, reporting relationships, etc.).
  2. The qualities desired in selection (demographics, diversity, background, experience level).
  3. The skills and behaviour that are needed to implement the business strategy and create the desired culture (skills, competencies, knowledge base).
  4. The collective leadership capabilities of leaders acting together in groups and across boundaries to implement strategies, solve problems, respond to threats, adapt to change, support innovation, etc.
  5. The desired leadership culture, including the leadership practices in use, such as collaboration across boundaries, engagement of employees, accepting responsibility for outcomes, creating opportunities for others to lead, developing other leaders, learning how to learn, etc.
A good leadership strategy takes all of these factors into account. Simply having all of the leadership positions on the organisation chart filled or talented individuals will not produce the leadership that is required to implement strategy, lead change and drive innovation. 
For more information, please contact: graham.watson@positiveleadership.co.uk


An Understanding of 'Class'

Still a classic - a look at 'Society'!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Why Performance Reviews Should Be Abolished

Performance reviews, in which bosses look for weaknesses and pretend to speak objectively for the company, while subordinates grin and bear it, misapply the hierarchical structure that is necessary in any organisation. They ensure that the relationship is about power and subordination, making candor all but impossible, and defensiveness the behaviour of choice for stressed employees. They should be used sparingly and replaced by performance previews.

This would involve changing the internal politics so that boss and subordinate are a team, both accountable for getting results that the company needs. No longer will the subordinate alone stand accountable for arbitrary metrics that managers create. Now they're both on the hook, and it is in the interest of each of them to understand the way the other goes about his or her job, and to support that person's strengths.

If everybody starts by owning what they think, instead of arguing over the "truth," you can begin to have a trusting relationship that can tolerate each party hearing some things they don't want to hear. And then you can have honest improvement — in people, in practices, in results.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Leadership Lessons from a Lifetime of Service

Here are the leadership lessons of a lifetime of service from the President of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres:

1. Leaders must not be afraid of being alone.

2. They must have the courage to be afraid.

3. A leader must decide. He should not agree or disagree. He says “yes” or “no.”

4. A leader must pioneer, not rule.

5. A leader is not on the top of his people but ahead of them in front.

6. Leadership is extremely hard work.

7. When you have a chosen a destiny . . . never give up.

8. Leadership is based on a moral call.

9. What is right today is different tomorrow.

10. It’s not enough to be up to date; you have to be up tomorrow.

11. To lead is to listen, to pay attention to every detail, to decide.

12. Everything that once was controversial ultimately becomes popular.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010


What are you afraid of, and what does it cost you? Today, we want you to read one of the best descriptions of fear we have ever heard. It seems to be appropriate for the world in which we are living:

"I am Fear. I am the menace that lurks in the paths of life, never visible to the eye but sharply felt in the heart. I am the father of despair, the brother of procrastination, the enemy of progress, the tool of tyranny. Born of ignorance and nursed on misguided thought, I have darkened more hopes, stifled more ambitions, shattered more ideals and prevented more accomplishments than history could record.

“Like the changing chameleon, I assume many disguises. I masquerade as caution. I am sometimes known as doubt or worry. But whatever I’m called, I am still fear, the obstacle of achievement.

“I know no master but one; its name is Understanding. I have no power but what the human mind gives me, and I vanish completely when the light of Understanding reveals the facts as they really are, for I am really nothing.”

You see, if you have the courage to acknowledge your fears, you will be taking the first step toward controlling them instead of them controlling you. And if you take the next step toward understanding, you will be able to move past them to empathy, perhaps even to love. 


Types of Failure to Avoid

Innovation experts have long argued that companies should be more tolerant of failure. But not all failure is created equally. 

Here are three types of failures that rarely contribute to learning and should be avoided whenever possible:

Knowingly doing the wrong thing. When a project falls apart because someone hid information or misled others, any learning is moot. Failure is only acceptable when the project was done with good intentions.

Failing to gather the right data. Often failure can be avoided by doing some simple research: asking target customers for input or testing an idea before launching it.

Prioritising research over experience. Some things are unknowable without real-life experiments. Don't waste resources on researching a theory when you can create a prototype or conduct an experiment that will give you a more realistic answer.


Obstacles Can Be Overcome

This is the story of Dick & Rick Hoyt, the most inspirational father and son team to race in an Ironman. 

The message is important - obstacles can be overcome with focus, determination, commitment and generosity of spirit.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Believe You Can Achieve


Be Prepared for a Turbulent Business World

Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, gave the first annual Roanak Desai Memorial View From The Top at the Stanford Graduate School of Business recently. He discussed how business has changed in his nearly three decades at GE and stressed to the student audience to be prepared for a turbulent business world.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Going For More At Work

Being smart and doing a good job can get you only so far, says Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organisational behavior at Stanford University. For really getting what you deserve — promotion, bonus, award — try high emotional intelligence and political savvy. Powerful people emphasise those traits, he says.

• Accept reality. 'It's a fact that people have done bad work and still become successful, while others have done great work and gotten fired. So if you want to play football you have to put on the pads and play. Don't become a shallow game player at work. It's far better to be smart, hardworking and savvy. This is really not about necessarily changing yourself in a dramatic way. Just be more strategic. You can't just hope that things are going to change or wish that things are not as they are,' says Pfeffer.

• Pick a good spot. You want a domain that fits your interests, said Pfeffer, author of  Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't: 'What gets you into serious trouble is to say, 'I'm going to show them that they're wrong.' What you should be asking yourself is, 'If I took all this effort and hard work to change these people's minds and instead go to a new environment, I would probably do better.''

• Talk with purpose. In Western countries, many people who blabber loudly are seen as leaders, wrote Robert Sutton in Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst: 'But, don't talk the whole time, as people will see you as a bully, boring or both. People gain power by winning interruption wars, interjecting and battling back when others try to interrupt,' says Pfeffer.

• Be vigilant. Avoid voluntarily surrendering your power and influence. If you're at a meeting with your boss, take every opportunity to shine. If you're attending a key event with a colleague, be strategic about being gracious. It's fine to introduce your friend, but don't fade into the woodwork and let a co-worker take over the conversation. Remember, this can be your moment to impress.

• Be forceful. You've probably heard experts advise you to get along with colleagues. Another take: 'There's a ton of research that shows that displaying anger is more likely to have other people accord you status,' says Pfeffer. Don't fly off the handle. Sometimes simply crossing your arms sends a powerful message. 'First demonstrate competence, then engage in a reasonable amount of self-promotion and be forceful,' he says.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Leading from the Front

Over the past year, business leaders have endured one of the most challenging economic climates in decades. In this video we hear from those who have emerged from the crisis stronger than ever. 

What can we learn from their leadership in developing strategies to thrive during difficult times? What has been the impact on their approaches to innovation, product life-cycles and brand management? Do changes represent a long-term shift or will things eventually return to normal?


Friday, November 05, 2010

Great Leaders = Great Teams: Ten Ways to Expand Your Leadership

"When the going is toughest, leaders must behave like emotional and intellectual anchors. The critical issues are about faith, passion, and most importantly, authenticity. People must know you are not pretending. They can see a sham."  C.K. Prahalad, Professor, University of Michigan

Leading Teams

Great teams have great leaders. Leading a team starts with a clear idea of where you are going, what needs to be done, and how it will be accomplished. In addition, team leaders must promote a collective team identity, admit their mistakes, and remain positive and focused in the face of adversity. In the end, leading a team is about...

Clarifying the vision - know where you are going, what it will take to get there, when it is best to assert yourself, how to accomplish the task, and why your leadership is important. Also, remember to keep your team informed as you go.

Talking team - it's not about any single individual but it is about "us," "we," and "our" team. Think collective identity.

Practising humility - be quick to admit mistakes and say "I'm sorry."

Leading with optimism - don't forget to remind, refocus, and rebuild when needed. Attitude is everything! Attitude sets the tone for the team.

Bringing it all together: Ten (10) ways to expand your leadership thinking

Determine your legacy

Ask yourself, "What do I want to leave behind?" Then, begin with the end in mind. You will leave a legacy! Be sure your legacy is what you want it to be.

Have a plan

Know where you are going, who is traveling with you, how you will get there, (what you need for the trip, how you will respond to delays, and how you can best help everyone arrive safely. Be prepared for what is to come.

Get connected (not to technology, but to people)

Invest in others. Get to know them, build them up, and serve them (even when you don't want to). Remember, people first and problems second.

Develop a "strength focus"

"Think Big" but also think smart. Always look to put your "team" in a position to succeed. Play to each person's strengths and the team's strengths.

Clarify roles and norms

Expect a lot from key players. You will get more when you expect more! The best teams require both quantity and quality from its members.

Create the right attitude

Influence is inevitable. Be sure to make yours positive! Remember, your attitude is "contagious." Pass on your optimism and hope every day.

Be teachable

Talent gets noticed but humility attracts followers. Know what you don't know.

Hold (and be willing to hold) accountable

Confront when needed. Every team needs an enforcer! It is important to remember that actions (or lack of actions) have consequences. Be sure everyone is doing what they said they would.

Do something different

Be creative. Find new ways of doing old things. Collaborate and cooperate. Talk with new people, develop new ideas and strategies, and ask for new input. Try something new.

Take a break and have some fun!

Laugh, smile, and "lighten up." A good sense of humour can go a long way in leading yourself, others, and teams. Have fun, enjoy the journey, and keep leading. 


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Positive Leadership's Gavin Hastings and Tiger Woods

If you look closely you will see Positive Leadership's Gavin Hastings on the same green as Tiger Woods yesterday in Shanghai. The Positive Leadership message is certainly travelling far and wide!


Selling Your Ideas

Regardless of how good it is, no idea sells itself. Before getting commitment to proceed with an idea for a new product, process, venture, technology, service, policy, or organisational change, innovators and leaders must sell the idea to potential backers and supporters, and neutralise the critics. They must find resources, expertise, and support. They must convince colleagues to advance the idea in meetings they don't attend.

People whose ideas get traction — that manage get out of the starting gate — take advantage of this practical advice for selling ideas.

Seek many inputs. Listen actively to many points of view. Then incorporate aspects of each of them into the project plan, so that you can show people exactly where their perspectives or suggestions appear.

Do your homework. Be thoroughly prepared for meetings and individual discussions. Gather as much hard data as possibly to have command of the full facts, and speak knowledgeably from a broad information base. Know the interests of those to whom you're speaking, and customise the message for them.

Make the rounds. Meet with people one-on-one to make the first introduction of your idea. It's always a good idea to touch base with people individually before any key meetings, and to give them advance warning of what you and others are planning to say at the meeting. Then they can be prepared (and coached) in your point of view. And you know theirs, so you can modify your proposal accordingly.

See critics in private and hear them out. One-on-one meetings are especially important when you expect opposition or criticism. Groups can easily turn into mobs. Avoid situations in which critics can gang up on you, or when a group of people leaning positive turn negative because the listen to a few loud voices. Never gather all of your potential critics in one room hoping to hold one meeting to brief everyone all at once. This kind of event mainly helps them discover each other and their common concerns, so they coalesce as a group united in opposition to the idea.

Make the benefits clear. Arm supporters with arguments. You might rehearse them for meetings in which questions about your project will come up. Stress the value that the idea will produce for them and other groups. Remember that selling ideas is at least a two-step process. You sell one set of people so they can sell others. You convince them to back you because you reduce the risk to them by giving them the tools for selling their own boards or constituencies.

Be specific. Make your requests concrete, even while connecting your idea to unassailable larger principles. Wait to approach high-level people until you have tested the idea elsewhere and refined your vague notions. The higher the official, the more valuable and scarce his or her time, and thus the more focused your meeting must be. Use peers for initial broad discussions, then ask top executives for one simple action.

Show that you can deliver. People want to back winners. Early in the process, provide evidence, even guarantees, that the project will work. Later, prove that you can deliver by meeting deadlines and doing what you promised.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Amir Khan

Amir Khan is an Olympic Silver medallist, a Commonwealth Gold medallist and since July 2009, he has been WBA Light Welterweight Champion.

However, back in September 2008, when he was undefeated and riding on a crest of self-confidence (or perhaps arrogance) he took on little known Breidis Prescott. At the time, Khan was being talked up as the best fighter alive. Khan was knocked out by Prescott in 54 seconds of round 1!

‘After that defeat, my mind was all over the place. All those dreams; suddenly I didn’t know if they were going to come true’, says Khan.

Khan had made a classic fighter’s mistake – he looked lean and mean but inside he was getting soft and comfortable. Defeat brought him to his senses. You only stay sharp by constantly proving yourself.  As a result, Khan decided to change almost every aspect of his working routine. He moved from Bolton to LA.

‘I moved everything. I made sacrifices; being away from home, being away from my family. I came to a place where no one knew me and a boxing gym where you have to earn your respect’, says Khan.

He started to spar with world champion, Manny Pacquaio. Khan quickly realised that the way you see yourself is less important than the impression you deliver to others. That lesson transformed him. After moving to LA, Khan began winning again. He won the world title in July 2009 and defended it in May 2010.

Khan’s training regime is now intense. He trains twice a day. His strength and conditioning trainer Alex Ariza’s philosophy is that ‘Everything is supposed to be hard. If it was easy, I’d have a thousand guys doing it.’ Ariza says his circuit training has a 98% drop out rate. Khan had never trained this way before. He used to train once a day. Now his approach is to ‘train hard, fight easy’.

Khan’s rise, fall and rise again is a testament to his resilience and to the need for hard work if you want to become a winner at anything.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Do YOU Make Your Team's Problems Worse?


The Importance of Core Values

In this Leadership Insights video, Bryson Moore from The Soderquist Centre explains why having core values is so important for small businesses. He also presents a case study and three simple things you can do with values to take your business to the next level.

Leadership Insights - Values and Small Business from Matt Martin on Vimeo.

Educating for Ethics

The Analects covers most of Confucius' teachings and philosophy. He is at the start of a long literary tradition that assumes that good leadership and good followership can, at least to some extent be taught.

Book 1: 1.4 Circa 475-221 BCE

Confucius said, "Clever talk and affected manners are seldom signs of goodness."

Zeng-tzu said, "I examine myself three times a day. When dealing on behalf of others, have I been trustworthy? In intercourse with my friends, have I been faithful? Have I practised what I was taught?"


Monday, November 01, 2010

A Fighter Pilot's Guide to Effective Communication

Communication in military combat is essential to successfully execute a plan. It ensures safety, keeps everyone focused on their responsibilities, and builds awareness in rapidly changing environments.

In the heat of battle, where effective communication is critical, fighter pilots:
  • Brief the mission in order to establish objectives, delegate responsibilities, analyse threats, and review contingency plans.
  • Establish a communication ("comm") game plan which confirms when and where to change frequencies.
  • Ensure positive two-way communication is established during critical elements of a mission.
  • Brief a back-up plan in case communication fails (known as "radio-out" procedures).
  • Debrief every mission to review lessons learned and reinforce training.

As a business leader, do you have a "comm plan" with your employees and colleagues? Are you taking the time to brief your missions to ensure all your wingmen are on the same wave length and understand their roles, responsibilities, and objectives? Finally, are you aware of those who might be on the wrong frequency or off course? What's your plan to get them back on target?

Checking in with your wingmen, listening to their questions, and understanding their challenges are fundamental components of teamwork and leadership. They are the cornerstones in building an environment of mutual support and trust.

Here are several communication "wingtips" gleaned from the military that can apply to you as a business leader:

  • Have a mass briefing at least once a month. Gather your troops and communicate the latest trends, organisational goals, sales updates, and product upgrades etc. Your wingmen need to hear important news — whether good or bad — from you first. This is also a great time to publicly recognize your top performers.
  • Conduct feedback sessions on a regular basis. Sit down with your wingmen and let them know how they are doing. Are they meeting your expectations? Ask them about their goals and challenges and how you can help. Then solicit feedback on you as a leader. What would they like to see from you? Avoid letting your ego get in the way of their feedback.
  • Walk the flight line. Get your hands dirty with your wingmen. Spend time with them on the job and observe how they do business. Ask questions. Show them your appreciation by connecting with them as people first and employees second.
  • De-brief your missions. Remove your 'rank' and conduct a nameless, blameless, and rank-less de-brief after every critical mission. Find out if objectives were met, and analyse why they weren't. Search for trends and communicate these to the rest of your organization.

Your aim should be to listen as much as possible in order to build what we call situational awareness — a comprehensive understanding of the mission. The greater your situational awareness, the better your ability to handle contingencies and adapt to change. As the flight lead of your team, it's very important that you create an environment where others can come to you for help. This inspires a culture of trust which is mission critical in business.

For more, see: http://ht.ly/30BhL and read, Never Fly Solo: Lead with Courage, Build Trusting Partnerships, and Reach New Heights in Business