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

Follow us on Twitter @posleadership


Monday, April 30, 2012

Positive Leadership: Preparing to Excel Under Pressure

How well do you prepare to excel under pressure?

The London Summer Olympics are nearly three months from now with the opening ceremony on July 27. However, the training several U.S. Olympians have done with the US Navy SEALs — 10 U.S. teams in Olympic sports have been through at least one session in recent years — is an arduous, indelible part of their preparation.

“I guess what I took away from that was the human body can always achieve more than we believe. And that's controlled purely by our minds." US Olympic gold medallist Garrett Weber-Gale 

The fatigue is so consuming the SEALs advise them at certain points to focus only on their next step — to ignore the discomfort of the elements, the aches shooting through their muscles, the doubts plaguing their minds, and to simply put one foot in front of the other.

"You can't buy what they're going to teach them in four hours," says Wendy Borlabi, a sport psychologist with the U.S. Olympic Committee, who adds the training is especially beneficial to athletes who compete in individual sports. "They're learning what they're doing is bigger than themselves," Borlabi says. "It's different than when they're training for the Olympics, which is all centred on them. "The growth, I think, is astronomical." 

For more, see: : http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/story/2012-04-16/navy-seals-olympics/54506732/1


Friday, April 27, 2012

Positive Leadership: Inspired By Sport

David Beckham, Oscar Pistorius and sports stars from around the world tell us in this video how they've been inspired by sport.

This video celebrates the achievements of International Inspiration and marks the Inspired by Sport photography exhibition.


Positive Leadership: Global Management Challenge Launching in Scotland

The Global Management Challenge is the largest Strategy and Management Competition for Students in the world. 

Positive Leadership is delighted to be involved with the forthcoming launch of the competition in Scotland. 

Over 40 countries around the world already take part in the annual competition and to date, over 480 000 university students and company managers have participated in the event.

For more information, please see: www.gmcscotland.co.uk


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Positive Leadership: How Healthy is your Organisation?

In this interview, author of The Advantage , Pat Lenconi shares great insight into helping you determine the health level of your organisation and provides some invaluable nuggets in how to move your organisation to the next level.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Positive Leadership: Commitment

Commitment is a key to success whether it's in a business, a personal relationship, professional growth, or in sports.

What made Larry Bird one of the best players in basketball? He was considered slow, and many thought he could not jump. Sometimes it almost looked like he was playing in slow motion. But Larry Bird succeeded as a player because he was totally dedicated to success. He practiced more, played harder, and had more mental toughness than most of his competitors. He got more out of his talents than almost anyone did.

The same was true with Tom Watson, the great golfer. Tom was nothing special at Stanford, considered just another kid on the team. But his coach still talks about him, saying, "I never saw anyone practice more."

You see, the difference in physical skills between athletes doesn't tell you much. It's the quality of their commitment that separates the good players from the great. People who are committed to success are willing to do whatever it takes, as long as it doesn't harm anyone else. Everything they do reflects their commitment.

Ask yourself the following questions and think about your answers: "How strong is your commitment - to your career, your relationships, your personal growth? How much of your time and energy do you give these things? Do the results you get reflect your level of commitment?"


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Positive Leadership: Building a Winning Team

Looking to build a Winning Team?

Teams which work with Positive Leadership will be able to add that winning edge to their overall performance through;

Better communication
Stronger leadership
Improved team-working skills
Enhanced motivation, moral and pride
Agreeing and living their team charter
Having a better understanding of how they and others tick
Building the esprit de corps
An improved way of working when under pressure.

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


Monday, April 23, 2012

Positive Leadership: Mentoring Women in the Tech Sector

Women make up half of the U.S. workforce but represent only 25% of the technology industry. They lead only 8% of technology start-ups. So why aren't there more female leaders in the tech sector? One of the answers lies in the lack of mentorship - in the lack of both mentors and mentees.

If you look at the entrepreneurship landscape, you still see that it is dominated by men. But without women in high places, younger women lack the role models and mentors to help them succeed. Younger generations of women need to have someone to look up to, someone to show them the ropes and limitless possibilities, to help them believe. That is why it is increasingly crucial that women who have made it to the top of the organisation commit to guiding other women towards similar success, take a larger role and responsibility in 'raising' the next generation of female leaders. 

However, it is also the responsibility of women to ask for mentorship. Women need to actively seek mentorship, male or female. More often than not women in power cite their male mentors being crucial to their success.

A mentor is someone who:

•             Has faith in you, pushes you to be better, encourages you to keep moving forward when going gets tough
•             Is honest with you, even if truth hurts, and tells you to stop whining if necessary ("tough love")
•             Contributes to your knowledge base through sharing experiences and best-known practices
•             Opens up his/her rolodex to you and utilises his/her network to help you succeed
•             Helps you towards your own vision by helping align your actions with your goals
•             Is consistent and disciplined: puts in the time, gives you homework, sets benchmarks, holds you accountable every step of the way.

These are some other observations around mentoring:

•             Mentoring doesn't have to be an altruistic act; it is totally acceptable to have a mutual benefit in this relationship that would help motivate both parties. You can trade your services or help each other in different ways, but it is always best to ensure alignment of incentives.
•             Mentees have to know what they want -- that's half the battle.
•             It is impossible to meet with everyone who wants your time as a mentor. If you are in that position, create a barrier to entry to ensure your mentees are as dedicated as they expect you to be.
•             Don't make gender an issue, don't take it personally. People hang out in familiar circles because of the common interests; that's just how networks work. As a woman, you need to become a part of solution, not a part of the problem.
•             Ageism is often an issue professionally. So if you are a young woman, you can overcome it by sounding confident, being firm, looking others straight in the eye, and firmly shaking hands.
•             As a mentor you have to make a commitment and stick to it no matter what. Your role as a mentor is to push yourself out of the job by your mentee doing it well.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Positive Leadership: Why Some Companies Outperform

What is the secret of the success of the World’s Most Admired  Companies?  Four factors are essential according to the Hay Group | FORTUNE World's Most Admired Companies Report 2012 -

1. Strategic excellence
2. Structures and processes that sustain performance over time
3. Achieving success through people
4. Placing a high value on leadership and talent.

These companies also outperform (total shareholder return) industry peers and the market as a whole over 1, 3, 5 and 10 years.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Role of Values in Decision Making

Values are now a permissible part of the decision making conversation in business. Even if it’s still lip service for too many companies, it is now legitimate for people to mention values and principles as factors in their decisions. For example, the idea of a noble purpose is increasingly considered essential to brands, and social contributions are part of the communication to consumers.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Positive Leadership: A Leadership Prompt



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Positive Leadership: Motivating Your Team

Research shows us that there is a proven set of basic intrinsic needs employees have, which must be met in order for them to become highly motivated and passionate. These needs, much in the same way as Maslow's hierarchy of needs, are represented in a pyramid, where each level builds on the one before:

Level 1: To Be Respected – It’s almost as basic a human need as oxygen – all of us need to be respected by others, yet so many leaders unintentionally treat their team members with disrespect.

Level 2: To Learn and Grow – We are born with an innate curiosity that drives us to want to learn. It stays with us throughout our lives unless it has been extinguished by experiences or the influences of others.

Level 3: To Be An Insider – Insiders have a strong emotional connection to the organisation. They know they are part of the team and they feel valued and involved.

Level 4: To Do Meaningful Work – When employees understand the purpose of their work and how it makes a difference to others, they tend to be more motivated to do a great job.

Level 5: To Be on a Winning Team – When a team works together so well that they outperform even their own expectations of themselves, their motivation levels grow and grow.

For the vast majority of organisations, motivation is a process, not an event. It begins with leaders in the organisation developing an awareness of these needs that drive employees’ behaviour and motivation.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Positive Leadership: Building a Successful Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Here are ten principles for building a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem:

(1) Stop emulating Silicon Valley.
(2) Shape the ecosystem around local conditions.
(3) Engage the private sector early.
(4) Favour the high potentials.
(5) Get a big win on the board.
(6) Tackle cultural change head-on.
(7) Stress the roots.
(8) Don't over-engineer clusters; help them grow organically.
(9) Reform legal, regulatory, and bureaucratic frameworks.
(10) Ensure that there is clear leadership within the system, such that connectivity is implicit.

Each of these is critical to entrepreneurship - yet insufficient to sustain it. They key is to integrate them all into one holistic system.


Positive Leadership: It's all about Winning!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Positive Leadership: Do You Have What it Takes To Succeed?

New research described in a Scientific American blog by Ingrid Wickelgren suggests that your ability to succeed at work is tied to how you perceive others. 

It makes sense: if you believe people are competent and self-motivated, you'll be more likely to delegate. But believe them to be lazy fools and you'll micromanage them to death. More so, your assumptions about others are a key indicator of psychological capital — a combination of self-confidence, resilience, hope, and optimism — which in turn reflects your ability to overcome obstacles and pursue your ambitions.

Now here's the really interesting part: Wickelgren describes new research from the University of Nebraska that suggests employers can measure psychological capital in job candidates through a simple test that uses imaginary scenarios to gauge how we perceive others! 

Enjoy reading the research!


Positive Leadership Makes the List of the Top 100 Leadership Experts to follow on Twitter

Thanks to Evan Carmichael for nominating www.twitter.com/posleadership (Positive Leadership) as one of the ‘Top 100 Leadership Experts to Follow on Twitter’ (http://www.evancarmichael.com/Business-Coach/4492/April-2012-Top-100-Leadership-Experts-to-Follow-on-Twitter.html).

We are delighted to have been selected to join such an esteemed list, headed by www.twitter.com/tonyrobbins (Tony Robbins, honoured by Accenture as one of the "Top 50 Business Intellectuals in the World") and www.twitter.com/jack_welch (Jack Welch, ex ceo of General Electric).


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Positive Leadership: Humility in Great Leaders

A core competency in great leadership is humility – thinking more of other people and less of ourselves. 

Many people lack this trait, which is why, if they are in a leadership position, they fail long term. Those who truly want to be first need to put themselves second.

 Former Super Bowl winning NFL coach, Tony Dungy powerfully shares why he is second in this video:


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Values and Attitudes of Great Leaders

Unlike supervisors and middle managers, what successful executives share are not skills and knowledge but values and attitudes.  

These are some of the key the values and attitudes that great leaders share:

Great Leaders Thrive on Ambiguity. While most of us like black and white decisions, successful leaders are comfortable with “shades of grey.” Great leaders are able to hold apparent contradictions in tension. They use the tension these paradoxes produce to come up with innovative ideas.

Great Leaders Love Blank Sheets of Paper. Supervisors and middle managers use a framework of policies and procedures to guide them to the proper decision. They want a plan that reduces their job to filling in the blanks or “following the bouncing ball.” By contrast, leaders create the blanks that managers fill in. Like some business Einstein intent on reinventing the universe, every great leader relishes the opportunity to “think things through” from scratch.

Great Leaders are Secure People. Successful executives thrive on differences of opinion. They surround themselves with the best people they can find: people strong enough to hold a contrary opinion and argue vociferously for it. Great leaders crave challenges, and this means hiring the most challenging people they can find with no regard for whether today’s challenger might be tomorrow’s rival.

Great Leaders Want Options.  Leaders constantly demands diverse options from their team, and they use these options to produce creative decisions.

Great Leaders are Tough Enough to Face Facts. Successful executives face facts, and this means being open to the truth even when it is not what we want to hear. Great leaders have a nose for B.S and abhor it.

Great Leaders Stick Their Necks Out. It is a natural human trait to fear being evaluated. We crave wiggle room so we can deflect blame and get off the hook when things go wrong. In business what is often passed off as a collaborative effort is actually just an attempt to avoid individual accountability. Great leaders want to be measured and evaluated. They continually look for ways to measure things that may seem immeasurable, and they cheerfully accept the blame when they are wrong or fail to deliver. The old adage that success has a 1000 fathers while failure is an orphan does not apply to great leadership.

Great Leaders Believe in Themselves. While great leaders crave advice, options, and strong colleagues, they all share a profound belief in themselves and their judgment. Great leaders are people stubbornly following their star who don’t know how to quit. Holding this stubbornness in tension with a willingness to be wrong is perhaps the greatest trick that every great leader must perform.

Great Leaders are Deep Thinkers. Managers get things done. Executives must decide on the things worth doing in the first place. Though very difficult to quantify, great leaders are deep thinkers. They constantly dive below surface “facts” searching for new ways to knit those facts together. Great leaders are generalists not specialists driven by an omnivorous curiosity. They know that the answers they are seeking will probably emerge from outside business and from disciplines that may seem utterly unrelated.

Great Leaders are Ruthlessly Honest with Themselves. Self-knowledge is perhaps the most critical trait that all great leaders share. Leaders question assumptions and disrupt complacency by relentlessly asking the question: “What is the business of the business?” This exercise develops and refines the organisation’s mission and purpose, and it is little more than the age old question, “Who am I?” applied collectively. If you are not clear about the purpose of your own life how can you provide a sense of organisational purpose for others?

Great Leaders are Passionate. They may be loudly charismatic or quietly intense, but all great leaders care deeply about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Perhaps most importantly they care about people. Every business is a people business, and passionately caring about people whether they are employees, customers, vendors or stockholders is an essential leadership value.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Positive Leadership: Building a Winning habit with the Golf Boys


Monday, April 09, 2012

Positive Leadership: Dealing with Pressure

In today's VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world, we're surrounded constantly by stress and pressure.

Some people always enjoy pressure. Pressure situations to them are the very essence of life. They are a privilege to enjoy. When you are feeling the pressure it means you are in the game and you must be close to achieving something very important.

This advice about pressure is relevant to life, sport and business. 

1. Work, work, work and focus on the fundamentals

You should always believed in controlling what you can control and not worrying about what your competitors might do. In a new business pitch you should never bother with who else is pitching. All you should focus on is doing what you do best and ensuring you deliver your best on the day. To do this usually means you have to work harder than those you are competing against.

2. Keep it simple

Ignore the politics, the possibilities, the past, and what might happen. Don't over rehearse, don't get into too much detail, just push yourself to be great and deliver the winning outcome.

3. Every game is the same. 

The only thing that changes in the final pitch is the importance of winning or losing. If it's a huge new business opportunity, then the stakes are high. But the game is no different than the game we play every day. The rules are the same. So focus on the game plan, not on the consequences.

4. Play in the now

Our brains crave control and certainty. Therefore, focus on the controllables. It is what we can do that counts, not what the other people might be doing.

5. Don't fear losing

You should have no fear of failure. Winning never comes easy, is rarely predictable, and never follows a straight line. Setbacks always happen. Accept it and you will reduce the stress when they occur. Your energy should then be refocused on the task at hand and handling the problem, not on increasing the stress levels. Setbacks should be converted into passionate feel and belief.

Sean Fitzpatrick, the former All Blacks rugby captian once said that when his team lost a test match, they gathered together and absorbed the pain together. Sean told them to hold that feeling so they knew how badly it felt and they would do anything to avoid it in the future.

Pressure. Bring it on.


Positive Leadership: Memories of #TheMasters


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Positive Leadership: Happy Easter!


Friday, April 06, 2012

Positive Leadership: What is Character?

"Good character is the quality which makes one dependable whether being watched or not, which makes one truthful when it is to one's advantage to be a little less than truthful, which makes one courageous when faced with great obstacles, which endows one with the firmness of wise self- discipline."  - Arthur S. Adams


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Positive Leadership: Attention to Detail

One of the most persistent myths about great coaches — who are, of course, interchangeable with great teachers and great leaders — is that their primary job is to come up with Big Ideas. You know, those creative, last-minute, improvised bursts of genius that change everything: the revolutionary strategy, the brilliant 11th-hour gambit, the heart-lifting pregame speech. This myth, born in Hollywood, is built on the governing idea of the coach/teacher/leader as visionary artist — a special one who sees something no one else can see. In other words, the coach as wizard.

It’s a tempting view — because from a distance, it seems to be true enough. The problem is, when you look closely at great coaches/teachers, they’re doing precisely the opposite. They’re not thinking like wizards. They’re thinking like construction workers.

For a revealing glimpse into this mindset, check out the Belichick Breakdowns, a weekly video by the man currently regarded as the greatest living NFL football coach, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, who have just played in their fifth Super Bowl in 11 years.

In the series, Belichick analyses half a dozen or so key plays from the previous game. The remarkable thing is what he considers to be key plays — and what he doesn’t. The coach doesn’t focus on the big moments we notice — he skips over all the amazing athletic moves, the key turnovers, and pretty much anything that you might remember from the game. Instead, he focuses exclusively and obsessively on Little Things — the perfectly executed block that turned a 3-yard run into a 5-yard run. The way a defensive player sealed off an end that led to an incompletion. He focuses, time after time, on small moments.

This is not an accident — this is, in fact, his construction-worker mindset in action.  This mindset focuses on three qualities, which can be approached as questions. Think of these questions as the filter in a great coach’s mind, governing his attention and action.

  • 1) Is it Replicable? Is this a one-off fluke, or is it an action that can be applied in a variety of situations? Blocking technique matters on every single play. If Belichick were a guitar teacher, he wouldn’t care about that great solo — instead, he’d obsess about thumb position and finger angle, the stuff that matters on every single chord you play.
  • 2) Is it Controllable? Is this something that has to do with effort, awareness and planning? If you watch the breakdowns, you’ll see how he makes heroes of players who pay attention, who anticipate, who get to the right spot at the right time. If Belichick were a high-school English teacher teaching Huckleberry Finn, he’d make heroes of the students who are first to spot the themes and connections in the text, because that’s about awareness and effort.
  • 3) Is it Connective? Is it related to a successful outcome? Belichick understands that every big play is built on a scaffold of solid technique. So he focuses, like any good construction worker would, on the foundational things that made success possible. Each of those small moves (the perfectly executed block) is in fact vital, because without it all the good luck (the big pass play) never happens. If Belichick were a sales consultant, he’d focus on the first ten seconds of the sales call — because without a warm emotional connection, the sale would never happen.
It’s no accident that Belichick’s Super Bowl counterpart was Tom Coughlin of the NY Giants, who’s cut of a similar construction-worker cloth. If you watched this year’s Super Bowl you saw the Giants win with an overtime field goal in wet conditions. It turns out that the Giants practiced all week snapping and kicking wet balls — they soaked them in a water tank. It probably seemed silly and small and obsessive at the time. But in fact, they were building toward a win.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Positive Leadership: Becoming a Champion

Challengers and champions. Runners-up and front-runners. Pedestrian and pandemonium. Often what separates these things happens in a moment.


Positive Leadership: Writing a Start-Up BusinessPlan

Before you send your start-up business plan ideas to a prospective funder, you should think about the Elements of Sustainable Companies and Writing a Business Plan.

Elements of Sustainable Companies
Start-ups with these characteristics have the best chance of becoming enduring companies. Investors like to partner with start-ups that have:

Clarity of Purpose
Summarise the company's business on the back of a business card.

Large Markets
Address existing markets poised for rapid growth or change. A market on the path to a £750m potential allows for error and time for real margins to develop.

Rich Customers
Target customers who will move fast and pay a premium for a unique offering.

Customers will only buy a simple product with a singular value proposition.

Pain Killers
Pick the one thing that is of burning importance to the customer then delight them with a compelling solution.

Think Differently
Constantly challenge conventional wisdom. Take the contrarian route. Create novel solutions. Outwit the competition.

Team DNA
A company’s DNA is set in the first 90 days. All team members are the smartest or most clever in their domain. "A" level founders attract an "A" level team.

Stealth and speed will usually help beat-out large companies.

Focus spending on what's critical. Spend only on the priorities and maximise profitability.

Start with only a little money. It forces discipline and focus. A huge market with customers yearning for a product developed by great engineers requires very little firepower.

Writing a Business Plan
Investors like business plans that present a lot of information in as few words as possible. The following business plan format, within 15-20 slides, is all that's needed:

Company Purpose
·         Define the company/business in a single declarative sentence.

·         Describe the pain of the customer (or the customer’s customer).
·         Outline how the customer addresses the issue today.

·         Demonstrate your company’s value proposition to make the customer’s life better.
·         Show where your product physically sits.
·         Provide use cases.

Why Now
·         Set-up the historical evolution of your category.
·         Define recent trends that make your solution possible.

Market Size
·         Identify/profile the customer you cater to.
·         Calculate the Total Addressable Market (top down), Serviceable Available Market (bottoms up) and Serviceable Obtainable Market.

·         List competitors
·         List competitive advantages

·         Product line-up (form factor, functionality, features, architecture, intellectual property).
·         Development roadmap

Business Model
·         Revenue model
·         Pricing
·         Average account size and/or lifetime value
·         Sales & distribution model
·         Customer/pipeline list

·         Founders & Management
·         Board of Directors/Board of Advisors

·         P&L
·         Balance sheet
·         Cash flow
·         Capitalisation table
·         The deal


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Positive Leadership: Management Lessons from a Triumphant Olympics

Members of the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team won gold and silver in the sport’s final Olympic event in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. It was the culmination of an amazing winter games for the team, which won medals in all three of the sports’ competitions. It was also one of the more amazing turnaround stories of the Olympics.

How Nordic Combined went from dead last in the world in 1988 to regular trips to the podium is a lesson in slow, deliberate growth managers at struggling companies might take a page from.

Tom Steitz took over as Head Coach for the team in those dark days of 1988, inheriting little money or athletic talent to work with. But he set a methodical approach to turning the team around, and set ambitious goals that put it on the path that would lead to Vancouver.

How do you get from dead last to dominating at the most important contest in the world? Steitz seems some lessons in the team’s transformation that can be applied to business.

Here are some of the lessons he learned from Nordic Combined that he thinks apply to businesses looking to win:

* Move the unproductive out quickly - Right away Steitz overhauled the coaching staff and started to hunt for promising athletes who had good team spirit, who wanted their teammates to do well.

* Set big goals, and plan to build to them - Just attending an Olympics couldn’t be anyone’s goal, Steitz says. They had to want a medal, and every athlete had to be improving whether they were already easily going to make the team or not. Steitz tied those goals to fundraising. He asked sponsors for modest contributions up front, but a promise that they’d give more if the team rose in the world cup rankings. That strategy took them from the worst funded team to the best competing in the 2002 Games.

* Spend time together — Steitz relocated the whole team and all their coaches, nutritionists and medical staff from all over the country to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He lost a third of his athletes and staff, but he knew those who stayed were committed.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Effects of Lack of Sleep

One in three British workers suffers from poor sleep, research shows, with stress, computers and taking work home blamed for the lack of quality slumber.

"British employers should be very worried about these findings," said Dr Tony Massey, medical director of Vielife, the health and productivity firm that carried out the assessments between 2009 and 2011. 

"Organisations that have employees that sleep better perform better in the marketplace. Staff who sleep badly say they don't feel good, can nod off at their desk, have trouble concentrating, and are more prone to viruses and infections."

"These are very worrying findings because lack of sleep is a risk factor for a whole range of serious health problems, such as stroke and heart disease," said Massey.

Magnotherapy may help some with sleep problems. For more, see: