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

Follow us on Twitter @posleadership


Monday, January 31, 2011

What is Collaborative Leadership?

Common Purpose (http://www.commonpurpose.org.uk/) asked Albert Tucker, Consultant and Non-Executive Director, Big Lottery Fund and Places for People; Janet Paraskeva, First Civil Service Commissioner, Office of the Civil Service; Anthony Salz, Executive Vice Chairman, Rothschild; Crawford Gillies, Chairman of Scottish Enterprise; and Richard Greenhalgh, Chairman, CIHE for their thoughts:


Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Impact of Authentic Leadership on Organisations

Bruce J. Avolio, Executive Director of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, discusses authentic leadership and its impact on organisations.

Authentic Leadership - Bruce Avolio from Foster School of Business on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dealing With Setbacks

No champion ever became so without the benefit of a few good failures to sharpen the mind. Michael Jordan once said, “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Never surrender to the seductive pull of self-pity. If you've been knocked down, pick up the pieces and begin reconstruction. Acting as a victim is to threaten your future. Remain purposeful, productive and flexible. No wave lasts forever, but there is always another wave. Accept fate and move forward.

Turn when the tide turns. Practice instantaneous alignment with life. Instead of beating your head against the hard wall of reality and succeed only in bruising your spirit, invest your energy in making quick adjustments.   Become agile and flexible. Your own decisions can do more to influence your stress level than anything that life serves up to you.


Friday, January 28, 2011


Here is a great video of Starbucks ceo, Howard Shultz looking at how to be an authentic leader and build for the future.


What Do You Want?

Do you know what you want for yourself?

Some people have trouble with this question. They know what they’re supposed to want – what their parents or bosses or friends or the media tell them they should want – but something is wrong.

While they seem happy and successful, inside they feel unfulfilled, in a rut, as if they have lost something but they are not sure what it could be. Some may even feel hopeless or terribly depressed. They can’t get what they want because they don't know what it is.

You see, if you don’t believe you can have something, often you won’t let yourself want it. If you grew up in a family where you were discouraged from expressing your wishes, or in a family where survival took precedence over everything else, you may have trouble identifying what you want.

Knowing what we want is very important information, so here’s an idea to get you started. How about starting a want list? Keep a small notebook with you. When you find yourself wanting something – anything at all – write it down. Let yourself dream. Don’t worry about practicality or what anyone else will think, and don’t leave anything out.

Once your list is quite substantial, you can highlight or number the items you want most and set goals to achieve them. Can you have what you want? Probably. But first, you must find out what it is. 


Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to be a Better Leader of Change

Change is an experience – and then some!

As leaders, we need to acknowledge that change is the way of the world. As leaders, we need to lead our people through new opportunities and we have to be the momentum and motivation, from the front. So, as leaders, what do we need to do to be better at driving change? Indeed, just who do we need to be?

Here are ten easy ideas for you to think about:

Build Relationships
Change is much, much easier if there is a strong relationship between a leader and their people. There is no easier way to make this work better.

Take Opportunities
In the workplace, valuable opportunities for change come frequently, so by taking them as you go along, it will make major changes much less necessary.

Have a Value-Creating Game Plan
A strong vision for the future shapes the steps needed for change. Depending on circumstances, these steps can be made early and minimise large-scale disruption.

Start Out Right
The easiest way to minimise the need for change is to be focused enough to get it right from the very start, making just minor adjustments as you go along.

Talk to People
Aside from building great relationships, talking and listening to people often elicits opportunities which might otherwise be missed.

Ask For What You Want
By clearly stating what exactly is needed is to change, solutions often come unexpectedly.

Do Big Changes Once
If a major change is needed, it is far better to do the job in one go than by taking half-measures, several times. This severely damages morale and creates on-going tensions. Bite the whole bullet; do it once.

Change Yourself
With preparedness for stepping back from your own beliefs and attitudes, it might be possible to be really creative about solutions – this can require a great deal of personal focus from you and is definitely worth it.

Measure Against Value
Any change must be worthwhile. By measuring the changes against their value-creating outputs objectively, clearer decisions and commitment from others will follow.

Have Good Reason
Making sure that change is not merely being used to overcome weak management – e.g. instead of using a disciplinary processes. Change will be more likely to be successful then.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rethinking Our Values at the World Economic Forum

Time to rethink our values in Davos, says co-chair Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestlé:


Diving Into Davos

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (http://www.weforum.org/) , talks to the Washington Post's David Ignatius about bouncing back from the economic crisis, and what world economies can learn from each other.


Europe's Top Companies for Leadership

The Hay Group's top 10 companies for leadership in Europe are:

The top ten in Europe

 1  Unilever
 2  Banco Santander
 3  Telefonica
 4  Deutsche Bank
 5  HSBC Holdings
 6  Repsol YPF
 7  Volkswagen
 8  L’Oreal
 9  Danone
10 Vodafone

For more, see: http://www.haygroup.com/BestCompaniesForLeadership/research-and-findings/europe.aspx

High Performing Teams

How to build a high performing team (based on the successful model of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball team):

1 Maintain high standards ALWAYS.
2 Prepare with intensity and realism.
3 Lead with long term success as the focus, even when short term success occurs.
4 Continually emphasise core leadership values as the key to sustained success.
5 Build positive traditions and recognise success.
6 Build a talent pipeline and allow it to flourish.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Best Global Companies for Leadership

The Hay Group Best Companies for Leadership Research (http://www.haygroup.com/BestCompaniesForLeadership/research-and-findings/global-top-20.aspx ) just published shows the following top 20:

The top 20 Best Companies for Leadership

 1  General Electric
 2  Procter & Gamble
 3  Intel Corporation
 4  Siemens
 5  Banco Santander
 6  Coca-Cola
 7  McDonald's Corporation
 8  Accenture
 9  Walmart
10 Southwest Airlines
11 ABB
12 Microsoft
13 PepsiCo
14 Goldman Sachs
15 Hewlett-Packard
16 Unilever
17 Cisco Systems
18 FedEx
19 Pfizer Inc.


Leadership Pipeline

Sudden Leader Loss Leaves Firms in Limbo - Are YOU Ready?


Monday, January 24, 2011

Leadership Coaching

It seems like everyone is doing it: getting a coach. 

Leadership coaching has become big business. According to one recent study up to 40% of Fortune 500 companies in the USA are using coaches for leadership development of executives and/or successors. Coaching is hot, and with good reason. Studies have projected an ROI of 500%+. And that return is seen in areas such as the ability to optimise direct reports, work more effectively with peers, decrease conflict and increase job satisfaction and productivity.

Like all developmental tools, the return is dependent on the investment. That means those being coached must be active participants. And not everyone readily embraces that role. Some individuals get stuck on the fact that having a coach means others realise or will realise their lack of perfection. That perspective can happen even when coaching is positioned as a perk and a sign of organisational faith in potential.

It’s important to gauge coaching readiness before introducing an employee to the coach you have waiting in the next office. For those employees needing some additional reassurances, having other employees share their coaching experiences can calm fears. Also powerful is sharing clearly defined outcomes, ideally co-created by the manager and employee. This can inspire by planting a tangible vision of outcomes.

Coaching can be a powerful leadership tool. Take the time to introduce coaching to each candidate, even if you feel it’s an accepted practice at your company, and listen for any concerns. It’s the surest way to guarantee success for both your employee and your company.

Questions for your team:

Have our top C-suite leaders visibly embraced coaching?
How do we get the message out that coaching is a Positive Leadership tool and not just one used for course correction?
How do we help managers address any doubts coachees might have?


Sunday, January 23, 2011

If You've Never Failed You've Never Lived

An inspiring video on persevering no matter how many times you have failed in life.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Importance of Values

Tom Boardman, former CEO of Nedbank (South Africa) explains the importance of values in driving and growing an organisation.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Treating People Properly

Successful leaders know that if you treat your people right, great things happen. 

Treating people with care and ensuring that the work environment is enjoyable, that people feel good about themselves and what they do, and their position in the company is key not only to the adaptation of the culture but also productivity and performance.

Employees who are treated with care and concern treat their customers with the same care and concern. Balancing people with process not only ensures performance and results, it inspires the kind of loyalty that boosts retention, loyalty, and work passion. Profit should never be the focus but rather the result of a taking care of your people.

This type of servant leadership is what leaders must focus on when: everyone is clear about where they are going; when policies, procedures, systems and leader behaviours cascade from senior management to the front line, and when the operational components of leadership are aligned. Servant leadership is about loving your mission, your customers and your people so that your people can be magnificent.

Southwest Airlines has been doing this for 40 years.

Southwest Airlines LUV Stories - 40th Anniversary from The Butler Bros on Vimeo.

The Turtle Effect

Nikki Stone is an Olympic Gold medallist, with many World Cup titles and other titles/medals in her credited accomplishments. As a personal coach to many other Olympic athletes and other business professionals, she applies her parents' Turtle Effect. In essence – know when to have a soft inner, when to have a hard shell, and when to stick your neck out. 

When Turtles Fly: Secrets of Successful People Who Know How To Stick Their Necks Out is a collection of short stories by varying contributing authors, and all pertain to the Turtle Effect.

The Turtle Effect has seven key lessons. As she puts it: “To have a soft inside, I would need a passion for my pursuits. To build a hard shell, I’d have to focus on the task at hand, completely commit to my goals, and develop the ability to overcome any adversity that was thrown my way. And in order to stick my neck out, I’d have to have confidence, take substantial risks, and be a team player in order to succeed.” 

In the book, Stone shows how these lessons play a part in the lives of 40 extraordinary successful individuals. In one chapter she urges us to focus on the questions, not the answers. She writes:

'We are often so focused on finding answers that we forget to keep asking questions. We need to explore the unknown in order to further our learning. People are sometimes afraid of questions that don’t have concrete answers, or answers that may be hard to discover. Kids have it right, constantly asking “why?”'

Think up questions that you don’t have an answer to. Become a kid again this week and ask people “why?” rather than just accepting their statements. You may find out more on the subject or you may even find out that there really is no sound reasoning to their response.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Earning Respect

Respect is not something that is bestowed upon you.  Respect is earned.

If you have ever had to remind someone that you are in charge; if you have ever had to resort to using the words, "Because I said so;" or if you have ever wondered why your colleagues just aren't listening to you, you need to take a step back and ask yourself if you have worked to earn their respect.

Respect is the ultimate reward for your continued leadership efforts. If you can consistently demonstrate the following behaviours then you’re on the fast track to earning the respect you seek:

  • Treat People As if They Are #1 Leaders focus on making others feel as if they are a top priority.  That means putting down the blackberry, making eye contact and taking the time to really listen to your colleagues’ ideas and concerns.   When you can genuinely communicate in word and deed that you value others, you lay the foundation for a relationship built on trust and respect.
  • Be Predictable - Leaders earn respect when they consistently bring calm to chaos, harness their emotions during stressful times, and bring perspective to challenging circumstances.  When you show others that you can be counted on time and time again, even when times are tough, others will look to you and rely on your positive example.
  • Lead As You Are - Leaders recognise that life is not a popularity contest.   When you have the courage to be who you are – projecting your strengths, improving upon your weaknesses – then you inspire trust, confidence and respect.
  • Demonstrate Integrity in All that You Do - Respected leaders are those who are able to tell you not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. They are able to praise positive results, and also able to deliver bad news when it is needed. When you rely upon your integrity to communicate with honesty, compassion, sincerity and directness, you will earn the respect of others.
If you can work to improve upon these four behaviours, you will discover that earning respect will have a profound impact on your leadership abilities.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Leaders Live Their Values (part 2)

This is from the Enron new employee orientation package.


Leaders Live Their Values (part 1)

Pure and simple, but not always easy to do - Leaders Live Their Values. That makes them authentic and credible. Unfortunately, some leaders do not walk the talk.

This is from the 1998 Annual Report of one company which failed the test - Enron. (See also - http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/19/opinion/enron-s-vision-and-values-thing.html )


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Becoming Extraordinary

How do athletes go from contender to superstar? How do ordinary people become extraordinary? 

Everyone has times when they feel like they are unstoppable, times when they are doing whatever it is they do with ease, grace and incredible skill. But no one, not even the best of the best, can operate in that ideal performance-state 100% of the time.

The secret to achieving extraordinarily high levels of performance is learning how to take command of your mind and body so that you can operate at your peak when you need to, and relax and recover in between. Here’s how:
  • First, goal-setting is a key. Many people don’t like to set goals because they don’t like to fail. However, you must develop mental toughness if you’re going to grow, and setting and achieving goals is one way to do it. 
  • Another way is to develop the ability to get rid of negative thoughts when they occur and substitute images of success and positive results.
  • Finally, sticking to a sensible programme of self-care – including good nutrition, regular restful sleep, built-in periods of laughter and play, and vigorous physical exercise – will do wonders for your self-image.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Dr Martin Luther King Jr on Leadership

As a tribute to the great leadership of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., here are some of his words to reflect on regarding leadership.

"People are often led to causes and often become committed to great ideas through persons who personify those ideas. They have to find the embodiment of the idea in flesh and blood in order to commit themselves to it."
"The people are looking to me for leadership - and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter."

"If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live." 
"I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!"

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

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"The time is always right to do what is right."
"There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but he must do it because his conscience tells him it is right."

"I will not be intimidated, I will not be harassed. I will not be silent, and I will be heard."

"A man all wrapped up in himself is a mighty small package."

"We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop... I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land."

"The first thing we must do here tonight is to decide we are not going to become panicky. That we are going to be calm, and we are going to continue to stand up for what is right. Fear not, we've come too far to turn back... we are not afraid and we shall overcome."

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a moulder of consensus."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
"We are not asking, we are demanding the ballot... "
"When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind."


For more information on Dr. King and his powerful leadership, read the following:

King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Charles Johnson and Bob Adelman 


Having a Positive Influence

A person has a positive influence (and thereby exhibits Positive Leadership™) in a specific situation when they rigorously answer four questions:

  1. What result do I want to create?
  2. What would my story be if I were living up to the values I expect of others?
  3. How do others feel about this situation?
  4. What strategies could I use to accomplish my purpose for this situation?
There are many reasons why answering these questions causes a person to exhibit Positive Leadership™. 

However, a key reason is that when people answer these questions, they create and pursue a purpose that is broadly inclusive of different people’s needs and desires, and they are open to learning how to accomplish that purpose as they go along. 


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Effective Leaders

Effective leaders are those rare human beings who have an emotional commitment to their values and can inspire others to commit to these values too. Leaders develop in organisations that consistently allow managers to live their values at work without the company constantly facilitating the process.  

However, before you can live out your values, you need to determine what they really are and which are most important. Here’s how to get started:

1. Understand your values

It’s tough to live a life of consciously-chosen values because there is relentless, seductive pressure to alter your beliefs.

Anybody who has a role for you — as consumer, constituent or manager — stands to profit from you not having a sure sense of self.  After all, when you’re not on your own agenda, you’re prey to the agenda of others. It takes just a little more work to list your personal values, why they are important to you, and which ones really matter the most but it’s important to do so.
2. Get support from your people

 If your employees know what your values are and care about them, then you can live them. If they don’t, you won’t.  Translate your leadership values — the meaning of family, integrity, adventure, creativity, spirituality, and health or whatever your values are — into the promise of better working conditions for your employees.  If they want those conditions, they’ll protect your values to help make them happen.
3.  Take responsibility

 Leadership doesn’t come with a job title — and you can’t order it on the Internet and can’t just wait for it to happen to you.  Leadership happens when you understand your values and understand how to enrol others in supporting them.  It’s your responsibility to assume an active role in forming your values and then evangelise them to your employees. 

The irreducible essence of leadership is living your deepest personal values every day at work and at home without compromise.  Leaders use those values to make life better for their employees.  This is why people become leaders and why people follow them. 


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Leadership in Education

Teach for America CEO Wendy Kopp speaks in conversation with Stanford University Political Science professor, Robert Reich.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Take "the Other" to Lunch

Elizabeth Lesser is the co-founder of Omega Institute, the US’ largest lifelong learning centre focusing on health, wellness, spirituality, creativity and social change. She’s the author of Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

In this talk, she explores the two sides of human nature within us (call them "the mystic" and "the warrior”) that can be harnessed to elevate the way we treat each other. She shares a simple way to begin real dialogue -- by going to lunch with someone who doesn't agree with you, and asking them three questions to find out what's really in their hearts. 


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Core Values

Leading from your own deepest core values is going to increase your performance and the performance of your company. 

This means:

1. understanding your core values
2. sharing them with your team
3. showing your team why bringing them into work makes life better for them
3. encouraging them to bring their core values to work
4. demonstrating that the emotional commitment will greatly increase your team’s performance
5. ensuring your company responds well to increased performance.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get Buy-In by Keeping It Simple

When presenting a new idea or proposal, chances are that you know more about the topic than your audience. When this is the case, it can be tempting to bombard them with data and analysis. But rather than being convinced, your audience is likely to feel overwhelmed. Forget the hundreds of pages of numbers you have to back up your argument and keep it simple. Present your point in a short, uncomplicated, and clear manner. Focus on what the audience cares about and use common sense — not fancy charts and complicated analysis — to win their approval.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Setting Up in Business - The Importance of Integrity

In the rush to start a business, keep it running and make money, there’s one important detail that can get lost in the process: integrity. Integrity isn’t something easily monetised, but when it’s implemented into a business’s DNA, there is plenty of money to save and the great potential to make more.

It’s easy to overlook the quality of integrity when running a business -- but incorporating it into all of your business dealings and decisions can advance your company to greater levels of success.

Integrity is synonymous with trust in the business world. After all, clients have to trust the people they do business with to keep them, so owning up to every responsibility is paramount.

The bottom line is consistency. A company needs to maintain what it says it does, and who it says it is.  There shouldn't be an external impression of the business that is dramatically different from the internal version. Especially in rough economic times, to be someone the buying public can trust is priceless. So while it might not seem immediately top on your list, your business can't afford to compromise its integrity in this competitive market. When people choose to lead with integrity they position themselves at the top of their industry. All the other details, like the product, or service, or whatever, come after integrity because people do business with people they know, like, and trust.

Here are a few thoughts on how to keep your integrity at the forefront of your professional life:

Remember that your reputation and relationships are all you really have. So nurture them and care about how you treat people from housekeeping to the most senior person. The proprietor is the best spokesperson for the brand as he/she has put his/her blood sweat and tears into their business and as the face of the brand, the reputation of the owner of the company is as and sometimes more important that the products or services offered.

Be likeable. You don’t have to be buddies, but you should be respected for the person you are – again it comes back to how you treat people. “If you set the example and treat your employees well, you minimise the conflicts involving HR. There’s no issues with sexual harassment, there isn’t stealing of materials, padding expense reports. When you feel you are cared about and you have a voice and an identity in the workplace, it’s easy to put integrity into practice.

Keep a positive online presence. With consumer driven content and social networking dominating the Internet, there’s nowhere to hide. So it’s imperative to keep that integrity through and through. The Internet seems to reveal those who aren’t trustworthy. It’s no longer the case of asking for a recommendation for a plumber from your neighbour. It’s pages upon pages of comments and reviews on various sites -- some more trust worthy than others -- that will really give insight into the experience the customers of the brand had.

Take the defensive out of the equation. You can feel the energy of a dysfunctional and therefore integrity-lacking company by just listening to how people at work communicate. “The tone with which HR and senior management communicate to their employees sets the stage. When integrity is in place and people respect one another details like being on time to work and with deadlines fall into place. It’s not about Big Brother watching over you, but it’s suddenly about you watching over yourself. The power is in the employee. That’s what you get to have control over – how you conduct yourself. It’s behaviour modification in the workplace. And a better workplace ends up being ripe with loyalists working together to grow the business.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Effectively Manage Your Mistakes

Perfection is unrealistic.  If you are attempting to perform to your greatest ability, you are going to make mistakes along the way.  It is not the mistake but rather the manner in which you handle it that shows your strength as a leader.

  • Acknowledge your mistakes.  As soon as you realise that you have made a mistake or as soon as someone brings it to your attention, acknowledge it.  The absolute worst thing that you can do is ignore or attempt to hide it. What is bad today will only be worse tomorrow!
  • Attack your mistakes head on.  Spend time mapping out your corrective course of action before you start blindly trying to fix your error.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes.  Attempting to divert attention or shift the blame onto someone else will only make you look worse.
  • Learn from the experience.  Reflect upon your mistake.  Ask yourself what you can do to avoid making the same mistake in the future.
  • Don’t beat yourself up.  Mistakes, even big ones, happen.  You may be upset with yourself.  Others may be disappointed.  But at the end of the day, you cannot undo what has already been done.  Go forward knowing that you are a wiser person for it!
Learn to effectively manage your mistakes and you will set an inspiring example for others! 


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Want to Lead? Steer Clear of Rarefied Air

This extract is from an interview with Abbe Raven, president and C.E.O. of A&E Television Networks, which was conducted by The New York Times:

Q. If you had only two or three questions you could ask somebody to decide whether you’re going to hire them, what would they be?

A. Tell me about the biggest mistake you ever made at work, and how did you deal with it. And tell me what, outside of work, are you the most passionate about. And the third would be, tell me a little bit about how you grew up.

Q. Let’s say you’re on a cross-country flight, and you sit down next to someone who, it turns out, is on track to become C.E.O. at her company. And she asks you, “What do I need to know?”

A. I would tell them to avoid rarefied air.