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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Positive Leadership: Culture Drives Results

This extract is from an interview with Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks Inc., conducted by The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/business/30corner.html ):

Q. What’s your philosophy of leadership?

A. I have a very simple model to run a company. It starts with leadership at the top, which drives a culture. Culture drives innovation and whatever else you’re trying to drive within a company — innovation, execution, whatever it’s going to be. And that then drives results.

When I talk to Wall Street, people really want to know your results, what are your strategies, what are the issues, what it is that you’re doing to drive your business. They’re focused on the bottom line. Never do you get people asking about the culture, about leadership, about the people in the organization. Yet, it’s the reverse, because it’s the people, the leadership, the culture and the ideas that are ultimately driving the numbers and the results. So it’s a flip.

What I try to teach people is, don’t ask the first question in terms of numbers. Let’s talk about the people, let’s talk about the culture, let’s talk about the ideas and the innovation.’


Positive Leadership: Sport Changes Lives

Sport changes lives. Check out this video to see why!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Positive Leadership: Mental Toughness

British businesses are still beset by failure rates that look set to loom above pre-recession levels until 2015 at the earliest, according to the latest Industry Watch report by accountancy firm BDO. In the face of such turbulent economic times there is mounting pressure on companies to ensure their staff, and in particular managers and leaders, are armed with the necessary resilience to guide their organisations through the recession and onwards to a successful future.

Long associated with elite sportsmen and women, mental toughness is a concept that is increasingly in demand among organisations under pressure to survive, grow and succeed.

Here are some thoughts on how to go about developing mental toughness:

Work with someone else to help you review and prioritise your work, especially when things are changing quickly. Time management tools and techniques could help you be better organised.

Take time to understand the people around you – their strengths and weaknesses. Play to their strengths and don’t expect things that they can’t reasonably deliver. Recognise contributions from others and give praise where it’s due.

Start you next piece of work with a colleague – share the challenge and the problems! Relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises or yoga could help you cope more effectively with stress.  Remind yourself that what you do really does matter – identify the benefits of what you do.

Praise yourself when you achieve – and seek every opportunity to do so. Change your work environment temporarily to set new challenges. Find ways to make sure that if you have something to say you say it! Get a mentor. List five positives about yourself and work with a manager, friend or colleague to identify these.


Positive Leadership: Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl

Much has been said recently about Andy Murray's need to find help if he wishes to be the world #1 and win majors. Boris Becker has advocated that he seeks support from former world #1, Ivan Lendl. 

This is what Lendl has to say about success and highlights why he may be the extra resource Murray needs on his quest to reach the top.
By Eddie Binder 

Recently, I talked with Ivan about his approach to developing his skills, assessing his competition, achieving the leadership position and sustaining that position over time to achieve such excellent results in tennis.  Ivan also has a keen interest in business, so we also discussed how his tennis career offers relevant and compelling insights to business.  

Following then are excerpts from our conversation.

Question:   How did you approach setting the right objectives for your career over time?

Ivan:  When I first started playing junior tennis, my goal was to be better than all other players on the European circuit in my age group.  When I turned pro, the top 100 and top 50 were my goals.  I turned professional at 19 in 1979, and made the top 20 in my first full year on tour.  I was ignorant at first about rankings.  All I cared about was playing because I loved playing.  By the end of 1981, I was ranked #2 in the world but could not achieve my ultimate goal of becoming #1 for three years.  So, I had to change my approach.

Question:   What did you do differently to become #1?

Ivan:  My progress on the professional tour was so fast that I didn’t think about improving.  Then, when I could not get to number one, I sat down and asked myself what I needed to reach my goal.  I identified three areas … I needed to learn how to play a slice backhand and return left-handed serves better (Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe were key competitors at the time); and I needed to get quicker.  So, I found left-handed college players who would serve to me for hours on end.  I needed to work on my skills so I could trust my sliced back-hand against Connors or McEnroe in the fifth set of the U.S. Open, if necessary.  It was hours of practice and then hitting that shot in lesser tournaments and early rounds of majors before I knew I could hit that shot under the pressure of a fifth set in a major.  To gain quickness, I turned to a track and field coach who had worked with Olympic athletes.  He outlined several drills that would be right for my goals and I did the drills day-in and day-out without fail. 

Here is the issue, you may be able to identify the things you need to do to improve, and a lot of people are able to do that, but you are never sure that you are doing the perfectly right thing.  Most people are not able to stick to it.  That’s the biggest difference I find.  When you work on something new, you have to give it a long time.  Don’t give it two weeks and say it doesn’t work.  If it doesn’t work after six months, then look at things and see if you need to make adjustments.  But do not give up too early.

Question:   Once you began working on the weaknesses you identified, how long was it before you achieved the desired result?

Ivan:  15 months.  I started my work in early summer of 1984 and became #1 after the 1985 U.S. Open, in which I beat McEnroe in straight sets.  (Note:  Ivan also went on to win the U.S. Open in 1986 and 1987 as well.)  The key for me was knowing that I had to make changes to improve.  But I also was never quite sure I was going about it in the right way.  You can never be 100% sure the changes will work.  A lot of guys give up when they don’t get immediate results, they don’t stick to it.  You have to be incredibly patient.

Question:   After you became #1, what were the factors that enabled you to sustain leadership for such a long period?

Ivan:  It’s attributable to several factors.  First, you have to believe that you are that good.  You did not just get lucky and win a lucky match or two.  You have to believe that you are that good and deserve to be #1 because of achievement, not by default.  Second, my goal was always to win majors, and winning majors took care of #1.  I have seen guys who have had the goal of being #1 and once they achieved it, they had nowhere to go.  Setting the proper goals is critical.  The third was to always ask myself “how can I get better?”  The reason I wanted to get better was so that I could stay #1 longer because my competitors were constantly asking themselves how they could beat me and they worked to improve.  Once you reach #1 you can sit back and do nothing, or you can sit back and analyse again.  I realised that my competition was changing and therefore I needed to change my practice routine.  This helped me to improve and widen the gap and keep them at bay the longest possible time.  

So, you know, Eddie, there is a correlation between sports and business.  There are two kinds of success.  One kind of success is to be the best and be happy with that.  The other kind, which I believe in, is to know that I am best the best now but I want to be the best three years from now and I was prepared to do what was necessary to do that.'


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Positive Leadership: The Lost Art of Management

While corporate malfeasance was once considered the exception, the American public is increasingly viewing unethical, immoral and even criminal behaviour as the norm.

According to the authors of Drucker's Lost Art of Managementbusiness management has lost its bearings. Drawing on Drucker's work and teaching, the authors create a new philosophy of management based on the principles leaders throughout history have relied on to be effective, both indvidually and as custodians of civilised society and healthy economies; principles such as societal values and standards, individual character development and the use and abuse of power.

The authors have done an excellent job of connecting Drucker's vision of leadership dominated by integrity and high moral values with the discontinuities created by an ever changing world.

Positive Leadership: Greatness Starts And Ends With Passion

Passion is like bookends to process.

Passion starts things. It inspires us to start a business, take classes or take risks. But without some learning, some structure or some process, that passion can quickly run out of steam or find itself fueling a futile exercise.

Process is what helps us get good at what we're passionate about. It gives us expertise and credibility. It is what gives us the intellectual capacity to solve problems and make advancements. However, if we get stuck in the process, though we can get good at what we do, we can never be great.

Greatness always requires passion.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Positive Leadership: Business Ethics

In this talk at Bentley University, Harvard Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter discusses key insights that follow from a three-and-a-half year investigation that served as the basis of her recent book SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good

She argues that there are strong potential synergies between financial performance and attention to community and social needs. By embracing values and focusing on the world outside the organisation, companies can gain competitive advantage while responding to social problems.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Positive Leadership: Successful Small Team Leadership

For years, numbers of leading researchers and practitioners have advocated the so-called "differentiated" style of leadership -- a style in which managers treat staff members differently based on their skills, personalities and other factors.

Others have raised doubts about this management style, questioning its effectiveness and wondering if it could ultimately prove divisive.

A new study from W. P. Carey examined the relationship between two types of leadership behaviour and team effectiveness.

The study concluded that in this regard at least, team-focused leadership (in which teams are treated as units, rather than a group of individuals) is significantly more effective than the differentiated style in the realm of team management. Surprisingly, the study also showed that differentiated leadership had negative impacts on group dynamics and, by extension, organisations as a whole.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Positive Leadership: How to be an Authentic Leader


Friday, March 25, 2011

Positive Leadership: True Grit

Grit is defined as perseverance and passion toward long-term goals (Duckworth et al. 2006). Gritty people tend to persevere, self-regulate and push themselves toward success. 

Drs. Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman (2006) found that the correlation between self-discipline and achievement was twice as large as the correlation between IQ and achievement.

Additional research suggests that people with grit:

  • report experiencing more happiness than those who are less gritty, even when controlling for age and education;
  • earn higher GPAs than their non-gritty classmates, even with lower SATs scores;
  • are more likely to outperform in spelling bee contests, regardless of verbal IQ.

The bottom line is that the research shows that self-control is more important than self-esteem in determining achievement.


Positive Leadership: Jose Mourinho, The Greatest Coach in The World

The best coach in the world is Jose Mourinho, head coach of soccer’s Real Madrid.  

The March 7th edition of Sports Illustrated profiled “the best coach in any sport, anywhere.”

The resume of this great coach and leader:  In seven full seasons managing Porto, Chelsea, and Inter Milan, he has won 14 major trophies which includes two Champions League titles and six domestic league championships.  In addition, he has gone nine years without losing a home league game, a winning streak of 148 matches over four different teams.

The following are the key learnings all leaders can learn from 'The Special One':

Embrace Success – “Everybody wants me to be The Special One.  But I don’t worry.  There could be a worse nickname.”

Criteria – “He’s at the top, there’s no doubt about that.  You have a certain criteria in terms of top management, and that is longevity of success – which is very difficult today – and what you win.  You have to regard his achievements as really first class.” – Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson

Challenge – “Real Madrid wants to be the best – of the present and future.  That’s my challenge.”

Expanded Horizons – Mourinho studies the management styles of Microsoft and Apple.  He also read Colin Powell, Jackson, and John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

Understanding – “A football coach who only understands football is not a great coach.”

Diversity – “My players are men.  Men with different personalities, different cultures.  To deal with this is very important is building a team.”

Universal Adoration – “You can see how close players are with him.  He has a way of getting into players’ minds as a manager…the kind of man who’s ready to give you all his confidence and trust because he expects that you’ll give it back.”

High Intelligence – Mourinho fluently speaks 5 languages – Portuguese, English, French, Italian, and Spanish.

Customisation – Mourinho addresses his team in the language of the team’s country.  This helps foreign players integrate into the culture they are currently living.  However, he communicates with each player in their native language.  Have you heard of anything like that from a leader.

Comfort - “By speaking five languages I can have a special relation with them.  A player feels more comfortable explaining emotions in a language where he has no doubts.  So he has no problem to open his heart, to criticise, and to be criticised.”

Humble Beginnings – Mourinho broke into the business not as a player, but as a translator.

Timing – Mourinho contends the most important moments in games are what he calls “transitions”, going from offense to defense.  “You must have a great balance.  That’s why I believe in having players with the tactical culture to analyse the game.  All of them have to think the same thing at the same time.”  

Respect - “What Mourinho brings is a newfound respect for the coach, a position that has always been criminally undervalued at Real Madrid.” – Sid Lowe

Adaptability – “At Real Madrid, I am adapting to the qualities of the players.”

Utilising Talent – “I’ve always had great players, but I’ve never had a Cristiano Ronaldo.  Last year Real relied too much on Cristiano to decide things.  The best thing is not to make him feel responsible for the success or non-success of the team…He can make the difference when things are very equalised, but behind him he has a structure.  I think he’s much more comfortable.”

Family – “I have to do what they (wife of 21 years Tami and two children) want (when at home).  I have to watch the programmes they want to see, the movies they want to go to.  I have to go to wrestling because they enjoy wrestling.”

Thanks to Brian Dodd for this great article.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Positive Leadership: A Healthy Team

A healthy team:
  • Encourages other team members regularly…
  • Cares for each team member's personal life outside the team…
  • Assists other team members during crunch periods…
  • Cross trains one another for different roles on the team…
  • Challenges each other when needed, working towards the best solution for the team…
  • Ensures everyone on the team gets credit for a win…
  • Applauds another team member’s success…
  • Values input from everyone on the team…
  • Defends one another from outside attacks…
  • Protects the integrity and vision of the team, even over personal interests.
The word “team” comes with a certain expectation that is more than people simply performing a function together. If you want people to feel and play as a team, then they must perform as a team.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Positive Leadership: Do You Have The Skill Set To Be A Good Leader?

Are you responsible for implementing and facilitating change for your entire organisation or for a small team?  Are you achieving your leadership goals—both personally and for your organisation? Take our short quiz to find out…

If you are a leader who is responsible for implementing and facilitating change within your organisation you need to:

  • ensure that an adequate change management plan is in place
  • be able to determine where people are in the transition process
  • help stakeholders to let go of the “old way” of doing things, adopt new processes, and define clear endings for the change/transition that is being implemented
  • create and implement effective strategies to facilitate the beginning, neutral, and ends of change/transition. 
If you are a leader that is responsible for employing specific leadership behaviours into your organisation, you need to:
  • learn how to identify yourself within certain behavioural statements
  • be adept in identifying competency statements, and making them behavioural statements
  • learn methods for validating your leadership competency models for your organisation
  • understand how to measure the intangible—that is behaviour.
 If you are a leader that is responsible for gauging your organisation’s emotional thermostat while achieving leadership goals, you need to:
  • gain insight into your leadership style, in order to drive change on a macro level
  • be aware of coaching strategies that will allow you and others to achieve their professional and personal best
  • learn how to mold micro-initiatives into missions that will have a macro-impact. 
Did you pass the test? Are you competent in your areas of responsibilities? 


Positive Leadership: Inspiration


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Positive Leadership: How to be a Good Boss


Monday, March 21, 2011

Positive Leadership: Monday Morning Motivation and Integrity

Monday Morning Motivation: Five Steps to Energize Your Team, Customers, and Profits :

  1. The love of the truth. A key ingredient to establishing and maintaining your integrity is to discover and then face the real truth – not just what you hope to be the truth, but the absolute reality of your situation. Our nature is to be selective with the truth and cling to the things that are pleasant to us.
  2. Courage to stand up and speak out for what you believe. To stand up for your beliefs, you have to know what you stand for. Your integrity begins when you speak out about what you believe. What are your core values? What’s so important that it will never be compromised for any reason?
  3. Persevere in your pursuit of fairness. In a grey area, err on the side of fairness. What you do is being closely watched by your team, and their judgments are based on their perception of what they observe. It may not be fair, but you have to manage your people’s perceptions – not all decisions are black or white. Err on the side of your team. Swallowing your pride is a small price to pay to retain or gain their trust in you.
  4. Live what you teach. Talking about integrity is easy. In fact, in Enron’s 2001 annual report, integrity was listed as one of its most important corporate values – along with communication, respect, and excellence. It seems sort of silly now, but Enron’s leaders probably spent thousands of hours identifying which values to list. The list does not mean anything – the way they ran their company meant everything.
  5. Continually ask, “What is the right thing to do?”


Positive Leadership: Stuart Holden

Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden, who comes from a Scottish family, albeit he plays for the USA, has been ruled out for six months as a result of the injury he sustained in a challenge on Saturday. 

Today's comments from his manager, Owen Coyle, sum up why this talented footballer has played in the World Cup Finals for his country:

"First and foremost our main concern is for Stuart and his recovery. He will get all the time and support that he needs. Stuart has been outstanding for me this season and he has shown in his performances that he is one of the best midfielders in the Barclays Premier League. He has such desire, strength of character and a winning mentality, and he will draw on all those attributes in his rehabilitation."


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Positive Leadership: The Importance of Team Values

Scotland Rugby star, Richie Gray talks about the importance of team values:


Positive Leadership: The Shadow Effect

The Shadow Effect is an emotionally-gripping, visually-compelling docudrama that reveals why suppressed emotions and unresolved internal conflicts leads to behaviour that continually unseats politicians, destroys celebrity careers, destabilises the economy and affects the lives of millions each year.

In this age of public humiliation and media meltdowns, the work of New York Times bestselling author, Debbie Ford, continues to make headway as she exposes the opposing forces of both light and dark that compete for attention within every human being. In her film debut, The Shadow Effect, Ford presents the hidden power of “the Shadow” alongside some of today’s most provocative thinkers including Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Mark Victor Hansen, James Van Praagh and others.

In this life-altering journey, individuals who have transcended child abuse, racism, the Holocaust, war, and wounded upbringings, share their remarkable stories. Meet those who have learned to face their terror, heal their wounds, and embrace their higher, heroic selves to overcome the shadow effect.


Positive Leadership: World Leadership Day

Today is World Leadership Day.

World Leadership Ambassadors are passionate about connecting people from all walks of life with their innate leader, the source of inspiration, creativity and infinite energy. We challenge the way we think about leadership and develop leaders for the new world. We embrace diversity and offer new definitions of leadership. We pose big questions that are intuitively coming to the forefront and balance these with new insights and ways of looking at the world. We offer rich, thought-provoking resources that will challenge your thinking about the world we live in, the world we want to live, and our roles as leaders, creators and innovator.

Our ambition is that by 2014, World Leadership Day will be recognised as ‘The Global Resource Centre for Authentic Leadership’.

Graham Watson of Positive Leadership Limited is Scotland’s World Leadership Day Ambassador.

For more, see:  http://worldleadershipday.org

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Positive Leadership: The New Approach to Being in Command

The long held concept of command-and-control leadership is being tested as organisations are experiencing the largest technological shift of our generation. 

Talk with your customers. Listen to your employees. These are well-tested truisms of business. But ask organisations to engage with people on Facebook or Twitter and a look of sheer terror crosses their faces.

In her newest book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, Charlene Li addresses the challenges facing leadership given the dramatic impact social technologies have had on customer, partner, and employee relationships.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Positive Leadership: Defining Leadership - 'How to Be, Not How to Do'

Frances Hesselbein is the Founding President and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Leader to Leader Institute, formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management.  She served as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 1976-1990. 

Learn more about her definition of “leadership” here:


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Positive Leadership: Companies to Admire

Here are five factors that we think matter in answering the question; ‘Do I admire that company?’

1. What ideas does this company stand for? There are plenty of organisations with interesting technology or hot products. But the most admirable companies don't just sell competitive products and services. They stand for important ideas -- ideas that are meant to shape the competitive landscape in their field, ideas meant to reshape the sense of what's possible for customers, employees, and investors.

2. Does this company work as distinctively as it competes? You can't do something compelling, distinctive or original in the marketplace unless you do something compelling, distinctive or original in the workplace. Strategy is culture, culture is strategy.

3. Has this company created an emotional and psychological contract with its customers? Success today in every field is about so much more than price, performance, features -- pure economic value. It is about passion, emotion, identity: sharing your values. The companies that we admire aren't just efficient and productive, they are memorable to encounter.

4. Is this company a leader in creating leaders up and down its ranks? The organisations we admire don't just lead their industries in terms of innovation or financial performance or market share. They also understand that the only sustainable form of long-term business leadership is the capacity to create grassroots leaders at every level of the organisation.

5. Is this company as consistent as it is creative? Even in a world of constant change and fast-moving markets, the really great companies don’t change their strategies and practices in response to outside forces. They are confident about the ideas in which they believe; the culture they have created, their connections with customers, and are willing to stick to their strategies even as the word around them is in turmoil. As Jim Collins, the great management guru, has argued, "The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency."


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Positive Leadership: Continuous Improvement

University of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon talks about the lessons he learned from former U-M football Coach Bo Schembechler, who he played for in the 1970s and how it applied to the business world as well as the big business of college athletics.

“You will either get better or you will get worse,” Brandon said, recalling one of Schembechler’s favourite sayings. 'He used to say that it’s not whether you win or lose, but did you get better. Because if you aren’t, then other people around you are. And that makes you weaker. That’s exactly how it works in business.'

Brandon, the former CEO of Domino’s Pizza and current chairman, also talks about what it takes to run a business.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Positive Leadership: Attributes of a Great Team Member

Here are 5 characteristics of an excellent team member:

1. Needs very little direction – Catches on quickly, learning the leader’s expectations, having confidence in his or her ability, and knowing the vision of the organisation well enough to make routine decisions with little or no input from the leader.
2. Asks specific questions when unclear of an assignment - He or she doesn’t ask general questions, that require full explanations, but rather attempts to think through the issue on his or her own enough to ask specific questions. This saves everyone time and speeds progress.
3. Needs very little supervision – An excellent team member follows through on what he or she committed to do with limited oversight.
4. Recognises results as part of the reward – While fair compensation is necessary for the health of any team and most leaders can improve on giving praise, the excellent team player does the work to see the results of a project done well, not exclusively for recognition.
5. Considers the interests of the entire team - Excellent team members look out for good of the whole team…the entire organisation. He or she wants what is best for everyone, even if that means they have to personally sacrifice for the win of the team.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Positive Leadership: Initiative

If you’re stuck at the starting line, you don’t need more time or permission. You don’t need to wait for a boss’s okay or to be told to push the button; you just need to poke.

Poke the Box is a manifesto by bestselling author Seth Godin that just might make you uncomfortable. It’s a call to action about the initiative you’re taking – in your job or in your life. Godin knows that one of our scarcest resources is the spark of initiative in most organisations (and most careers) – the person with the guts to say, “I want to start stuff.”

Poke the Box just may be the kick in the pants you need to shake up your life.

Exclusive interview with Seth Godin from GiANT Impact on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Positive Leadership: Building Consensus and a Way Forward

One of the greatest challenges today is how to engage multiple stakeholders and/or large numbers of stakeholders in collectively crafting a way forward. How do you allow each person to be heard and yet craft a strategy to move forward in a reasonably timely fashion?

Traditional engagement methods fall short, but there is a process, which Positive Leadership often uses, that allows every voice to be heard and that enables groups of tens, hundreds or even thousands of people to swiftly tap their collective wisdom and collective find a way forward. This process is the World Café (http://www.theworldcafe.com/).

L180-100406-What is the World Cafe? from Ravi Tangri on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

An Introduction to Positive Leadership Limited


Friday, March 11, 2011

Positive Leadership: Values-based Decision Making

Just as organisations need to identify their purpose and values in order to meet their marketplace needs and be competitive and successful, individuals also need to understand and identify their values. 

This clarification of values by the individual allows them to base their decisions on those values. It allows a framework from which to reference and a select options. Wisdom literature states that a house divided cannot stand. An individual who consistently makes decisions on shifty or inconsistent values often finds themselves in frustrating situations. 

Persons who have clearly identified their values are able to base their decisions with laser like focus on desired outcomes.

Values-based decision-making is a very holistic approach to life and leadership. We must have one level of ethics or values that we use for all of our decisions. We cannot say that we have one set of values for the workplace, another set of values for our home, and another set of values for our place of worship. Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, our values can be judged by the lowest common denominator. This discussion of one’s personal values may appear to have little to do with one’s workplace environment. However, it has everything to do with one’s happiness in the workplace, for this is the point of values congruence.

A person cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way they see themselves. Eventually your values will find you. Time and truth go hand-in-hand.

When was the last time you sat down, clearly identified your values, and possibly incorporated them into your purpose statement? It has been said that if you aim at nothing you would hit it every time. What targeted values do you have in your sights?


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Positive Leadership: What it Takes to be an Extraordinary Leader

After writing more than 50 books on topics ranging from Buddha to getting a good night's rest, Deepak Chopra recently turned his attention to leadership and entrepreneurs in The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness. While there's no shortage of spirituality in this book, readers -- Chopra hopes -- will get a healthy tutorial on how to practically start and build organisations and companies that thrive and possibly even inspire.

Here are his answers two important questions:

What are the keys to successful leadership?

'Any leader has one main goal: How to envision that future and how to create that future. So in order to be really effective, the leader needs to harness the intelligence, creativity, emotional engagement and also the emotional connection with the people that are part of his or her team in order to manifest that vision.'

Can leadership be learned?

'Leaders are not born that way. Circumstance, context, history, culture and precise timing bring out the leader. It's said the civil rights movement was born when Rosa Parks refused to get up from her seat. When asked why she did that, she said she was tired. It is really a mysterious phenomenon, but I believe that in any moment of crisis, there's a moment for leaders to emerge, and they usually do. Among the many, there are always one or two people who realise the opportunity and their potential. We all have the potential. We all may not have the desire. If you don't have the desire, then you're not a born leader. Inherent in the desire is the potential for leadership.'


Positive Leadership: Leadership Lessons from Walmart

Walmart CEO Mike Duke leads the world's biggest retailer, which has 2.1 million employees and serves 200 million customers each week. Here are excerpts from a recent interview Duke did with The Associated Press:

‘Q. What ideals from Sam Walton do you embrace?

A. Leadership is about showing respect to every individual, about humility over arrogance, about listening and getting feedback from a broad array of constituents. It's about a passion for customers and knowing customers first-hand, not theoretical, not through some data, but by having personal, passionate communication with customers.

And leadership is about striving for excellence. It's about setting aggressive goals and not being afraid to go after very aggressive goals and targets. I think it's even better for a leader to set an aggressive goal and come up a little short than it would be to set a soft goal and to exceed it.

Q. What should a leader value most?

A. Integrity and trust. If a leader doesn't have the trust of associates, of customers, of shareholders, then all the other things, the ability to speak eloquently and to sing and dance and entertain, (don't) mean a thing if a leader is not trusted.’


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Positive Leadership: What The Top Performers Do Right

A survey conducted by Six Disciplines reveals what top-performing organisations do differently, and provides insights for business leaders who want to know where they should focus their efforts going forward.

The original survey, conducted several years ago with over 300 C-level executives from small and mid-sized US businesses, has now been re-published by Six Disciplines, in an effort to share the insightful results, and to validate the original research findings.

Based on the research, the top performers are very good at the following set of 10 best-practices. The numbers behind each best-practice are the average scores for the top quartile of top-performing businesses, on a scale of 1-to-5, with 5 being the highest score.

  1. Expect/Demand Quality 4.78
  2. Technology Is Seen As An Investment Not Expense 4.62
  3. Leaders Are Involved In Strategic Change 4.57
  4. A Teamwork Approach To Challenges 4.51
  5. Employees Are Engaged and Fulfilled 4.44
  6. People Help One Another Succeed 4.40
  7. Leaders Set Clear Vision 4.39
  8. Technology Is A Competitive Advantage 4.32
  9. Technology and Training Are Up-To-Date 4.32
  10. Seek/Listen To Advice 4.29 
Click here to read the entire press release about this research study. 

Positive Leadership: Why Leaders Must Think Systemically

Vision, purpose and hard work (three of the Values of Positive Leadership), although excellent in and off themselves, are not complete without a holistic view of an organisation’s leadership system.

Within such a system, a leader must be a continual learner, placing all of the Values of Positive Leadership into his arsenal of leadership tools. He must learn and understand the implications of each Value individually, but through his systemic mindset, he realises that the true magnifying power occurs only when the Values are viewed as a total system.

Leaders learn; leaders do; leaders teach - an unbeatable cycle when adopted by all leaders within an organisation. Leaders communicate the leadership strategy and how it aligns and interacts with the business strategy to deliver results, while identifying the systemic causes hindering the achievement of desired results.

Therefore, if a potential leader cannot think in a systemic fashion, he literally is unqualified for top leadership positions in today’s interconnected world.

For more on how Positive Leadership can help leaders throughout your organisation think systemically, please contact: graham.watson@positiveleadership.co.uk


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Positive Leadership: England Rugby and Arsenal FC

Some excellent comments here from England Rugby Coach, Martin Johnston, interviewed by Oliver Brown of The Daily Telegraph:

‘It would be a brave man who bracketed Martin Johnson and Arsène Wenger, but the iron-fisted totem of England rugby appears firmly in the professor’s debt. Johnson is talking, as he is so often prone to do, about “the group” at his disposal in this auspicious World Cup year. But when it comes to selecting his players for such a group, he reaches for some intriguing inspiration.

“I heard Wenger speaking last autumn and he was talking about the type of characters he wanted to play at Arsenal,” says Johnson…….“He was saying the guys who were winners were never happy with their performance. They always want to improve, to get better. You should never get to the stage of patting yourselves on the back.”…………

In his blinkered focus, Johnson invites accusations of acting as a disciplinarian. Does he, I wonder, allow his players to breathe as part of their ferocious training regime. “Breathing’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” he grins, before recalling an innovation by his celebrated predecessor, Sir Clive Woodward, known as the 'Lombardi rule’.

Loosely, this refers to the principle devised by legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who would call team meetings for 9am and then start them at 8.30. Johnson plainly endorses the philosophy. “Clive was a real stickler for punctuality. But it’s not simply about rules, it’s about embracing the right type of behaviour. If you can’t trust guys to be on time for a meeting, how can you trust them to do something that’s difficult? It’s about behaviour." ......'


Positive Leadership: Leadership & Capability

Former HP ceo, Carly Fiorina explains that leadership is about three things: capability, collaboration and character. 

She stresses the importance of capability, which is about asking questions and listening to answers. It is also about celebrating new ideas and taking initiative to try new things. She insists that a continuous learning process is important to strengthen an entrepreneur's capability


Monday, March 07, 2011

Positive Leadership: Neuroscience and Leadership

Emerging findings in neuroscience research suggest why inspiring and supportive relationships are important — they help activate openness to new ideas and a more social orientation to others. 

If you believe that leadership involves inspiring others and motivating them to be their best and develop, learn, adapt and innovate, then activating the parts of their brain that will help requires that we: (1) be social; and (2) engage the person in positive, hopeful contemplation of a desired future. The latter might also be stimulated when discussing core values and the purpose of the organisation or project.

All too often, people in leadership positions begin conversations about the financials or metrics and dashboard measures of the desired performance. While important, this sequence confuses people and may result in them closing down cognitively, emotionally and perceptually.

If you want them to open their minds, you need to discuss the purpose of the activity (not merely the goals) and the vision of the organisation or clients if a desired future were to occur. THEN, you can lead a discussion about the financials, metrics and measures. But you have made it clear that the measures follow the purpose, they have not become the purpose.

Insights such as these may move the primacy of a leader’s actions away from the often proselytised “results-orientation” toward a relationship orientation.

Learn about this and other important findings in neuroscience that have the potential to tell us what we need to know to be good, even great leaders - http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com/neuroscience-and-leadership-the-promise-of-insights


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Positive Leadership: Creating the High Trust Organisation

This is the conclusion of a truly inspirational essay by the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey. 

‘We have the opportunity to create more conscious and higher trust organisations in the 21st century. To do so will require three major changes.

First the organisation must become conscious of what its higher purposes are. Without consciousness of higher purposes, organisations will not reach their fullest potential because the creative energy within the organisation will not be fully expressed.

Secondly, we’ll need our leaders to evolve to higher levels of consciousness and trust themselves. We will not be able to create high trust organisations without more conscious and high trust leaders. Less conscious leaders will tend to hold their organisations back.

Thirdly, we will need to evolve the cultures of our organisation in ways that create processes, strategies, and structures that encourage higher levels of trust. These will necessarily include the important ideals of teams, empowerment, transparency, authentic communication, fairness, love and care.’


Saturday, March 05, 2011

Positive Leadership: Gender Bias in Leader Selection

According to the glass cliff phenomenon, companies in trouble often turn to female leaders in an attempt to break the status quo of male mismanagement, because feminine attributes are associated more with cooperation and other interpersonal skills needed to rescue a firm from crisis.


Positive Leadership: How Young CEO's See The World

The 50 and under set of chief executives are looking for highly skilled workers around the planet to tackle complex tasks:


Friday, March 04, 2011

Positive Leadership: Managing Yourself: Zoom In, Zoom Out

Zoom buttons on digital devices let us examine images from many viewpoints. They also provide an apt metaphor for modes of strategic thinking. Some people prefer to see things up close, others from afar. Both perspectives have virtues. But they should not be fixed positions, says Harvard Business School’s Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. To get a complete picture, leaders need to zoom in and zoom out.

A close-in perspective is often found in relationship-intensive settings. It brings details into sharp focus and makes opportunities look large and compelling. But it can have significant downsides. Leaders who prefer to zoom in tend to create policies and systems that depend too much on politics and favours. They can focus too closely on personal status and on turf protection. And they often miss the big picture. When leaders zoom out, they can see events in context and as examples of general trends. They are able to make decisions based on principles. Yet a far-out perspective also has traps. Leaders can be so high above the fray that they don’t recognise emerging threats. Having zoomed out to examine all possible routes, they may fail to notice when the moment is right for action on one path. They may also seem too remote and aloof to their staffs.

The best leaders can zoom in to examine problems and then zoom out to look for patterns and causes. They don’t divide the world into extremes—idiosyncratic or structural, situational or strategic, emotional or contextual. The point is not to choose one over the other but to learn to move across a continuum of perspectives. 

For more, see: http://ht.ly/46yCH


Positive Leadership: The New Business Elite

Here are the top companies in the Fortune Magazine listing of the World's Most Admired Companies 2011, ranked by attribute, as reflected in the last survey before the recession (2007) and in this year’s survey.

(The top ranked British company is British American Tobacco, albeit it does not feature in the World's Top 50.):

Pre-recession champ
New champ
Ability to attract, develop, and keep talented people
General Electric
Goldman Sachs
Effectiveness in conducting its business globally
Quality of management
Procter & Gamble
Quality of products and services
Responsibility to the community and environment
Soundness of financial position
Exxon Mobil
Value as a long-term investment
Berkshire Hathaway
Wise use of corporate assets
Exxon Mobil

For more, see http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/02/news/companies/most_admired_intro.fortune