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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Positive Leadership: Demonstrable Values and Integrity are Key to Economic Recovery

Giving the sixth annual ICAS Aileen Beattie Memorial Lecture recently, Douglas Flint CA, the Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings PLC, said that while the financial crisis was a “great opportunity to move things forward to learn lessons, [and] to fix things that need fixing”, it was also an opportunity for some “to take advantage of people’s fear of repetition to offer seductively attractive remedies that only address symptoms rather than causes”.

As well as addressing the fixes needed in the financial system, Flint said, it was important offer a positive vision and “to focus on what we want the wider financial system and banks in particular to do”.

Flint said restoration of confidence was important to recovery, and if this were to happen there needed to trust in leaders, in their motives and their data.

He emphasised the importance of behaviour: “the greatest opportunity for improvement will come from defining, teaching, reinforcing, rewarding and enforcing values in terms of behaviour”.

If behavioural values are to be relied upon it requires trust in organisations, Flint said. Assurance that this trust has been earned has to be built into the system.

He urged regulatory and public policy bodies to think more deeply about how to understand - “and if necessary shape” - the character and culture of the organisations critical to the financial system.

He said people should “care more about tone from the top, how individuals are screened for behavioural characteristics when recruited or promoted, how ethics and values are taught and reinforced, how values are enforced and rewarded”.

Flint listed the elements he felt needed to be embraced: “independence of thought, character, judgment, accountability, responsibility, a duty that goes beyond one’s own self-interest or the narrow interest of one’s employer to one’s underlying principles and integrity”.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Positive Leadership: Everyday Leadership

In this inspiring video, Dan Mulhearn talks about what he calls "the shift to awesome" - going from passivity - where the world happens to you -- to a stance of activity, where you happen to the world. Dan shares his own personal shift and how he gained a new perspective and outlook on life and offers two ways you can shift your perceptions to live a better life.

Dan Mulhern is an expert on leadership and organizational development. He currently teaches courses in business and law at UC Berkeley. Mulhern is the author of two leadership books, Everyday Leadership: Getting Results in Business, Politics and Lifeand Be Real: Inspiring Stories For Leading At Home And Work and is the co-author of the bestselling political book, A Governor's Story: The Fight for Jobs and America's Economic Future. He is married to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who served two terms as the governor of Michigan. They have three children.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Positive Leadership: Using Your Time More Efficiently

Here are three ways to get going and sustain an action-orientation to your own productivity:

Choose smaller verbs. One of the reasons that people don't do things as they think of them (especially entrepreneurs and senior leaders) is because of their skill at ‘Visionary Thinking’. Because they CAN think big, they do. Chunk your objectives into smaller markers along your path to success.

Find, create, utilise and assess the extra time you have each day. Arrive to an off-site meeting somewhere early? Other people running late? Maybe you get a last-minute cancellation of an appointment you had scheduled. What can you do during that time? Get ready for 15-minute blocks of time throughout the day. Why 15 minutes? That window is long enough to actually "do" something and short enough to find!

Focus on what has happened. Regularly through the day (before lunch, and before you go home), take a moment and mentally check off what is complete. All too often there is so much going on, and so much you can think of that is UNDONE, you tend to forget how much is finished. This is your chance to recharge – as acknowledging completion is a quick way to get back on track.

Too often, long-range goals fall into the “important but not urgent” category of day-to-day workflow management. We put off doing the most important things while making start-and-stop progress. When this happens, the urgent – latest and loudest – clamours for our attention. 

Work smart, maximise short windows of time, and mark something as complete…it’s the best way to beat procrastination!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Keys to a Successful Leadership Strategy

What style of leadership works and what doesn't work in an organisation?

1) Strict hierarchical decision-making doesn't work. Shared consciousness or ‘smart autonomy’ - is what works.

Everyone — not just those on the top rungs of the organisational ladder — has to be empowered, but they must still look out for the needs of the whole organisation, not themselves.

2) Information ownership doesn't work. That's when people protect what they know without sharing it with others. It's a hindrance to an organisation.

It makes you more powerful but it makes the organisation weaker.

Inclusion and transparency is what works. Allowing information to flow between parts of an organisation, helps formulate ideas and foster trust.

3) Organisational equity doesn't work. It's the idea that everyone within the organisation is trying to make things "fair" for them in relation to their colleagues.

Having teams is what works, because it encourages collaboration and supports that "shared consciousness" idea.

If everybody on a football team scores plenty of goals, but you lose matches, you lost!

4) Command and control doesn't work. Micro-managing and imposing your will over much of an organisation stifles people.

Trust is what works. Without it, it's impossible to have autonomous parts of an organisation.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Positive Leadership: Personal Best

'Personal Best' is released in cinemas by Verve Pictures today.

Filmed over four years, Personal Best follows up-and-coming British sprinters on their journey from the grassroots of athletics to the international stage. The film is both a gripping portrait of the athletes in training and competition, and a deeply personal account of their lives unfolding -- revealing victory, defeat, agony, ecstasy and the simple trials of growing up.

On the eve of the 2012 Olympics, this film tells the stories of Britain's young sprinters as they strive towards their dreams. This is an inspiring but genuine portrait of Britain's youth and a penetrating study of the art of sprinting, peeling back the layers so we can finally understand everything it means to them as they wait on the start line for the gun to fire.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Positive Leadership: Coaching Advice from John Madden

To today’s generation, he’s known more for his tremendously popular video games and as half of the legendary announcer pair with Pat Summerall. However, before his 20-year TV career and creation of the Madden line of games that have been bought by the millions, John Madden very successfully roamed the football side-lines as a head coach.

Madden retired from coaching at 42 with a Super Bowl ring and the second-highest winning percentage in NFL history.  Here is some advice from Madden for coaches in all sports and any level of competition. (His advice applies equally well to business coaches.)

John Madden on…

…the responsibility of a coach: ‘The first thing that a coach has to be is a teacher. The best thing you can do for your players is to get them ready to be as good as they can. That’s your responsibility. It starts with fundamentals. Give them the tools for the best chance at success.’

…learning from Vince Lombardi: ‘Lombardi was my idol. He said it best years and years ago: “To be a successful coach, you have to know what the end looks like.” You have to know what you want. What’s your goal? It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people don’t know what the end is. If you don’t know the end, then you don’t know how to get there.’

…succeeding as a coach: ‘Teams have the same number of kids, same number of practices and, for the most part, the same calibre of players. Why do some succeed more than others? They better prepare themselves and their players. You can’t just focus on one area. You have to be able to analyse personalities. You have to be able to game plan. You have to be able to teach. Every good coach who takes on the responsibility of being a coach should strive to be as strong as they can in all areas of coaching.’

…striving to be the best: As a coach, you have to realise that you’re never finished. You have to prepare for practice. After practice, you prepare for the game. After the game, you prepare for the next practices and the next game. You always have to prepare for what’s next if you want to succeed.’


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Importance of the Softer Side of Leadership

Never underestimate the softer side of leadership.

By the time you become a senior leader, you have already mastered the technical skills. What may be missing, however, are the nuances and the seemingly simple truths that get lost in the noise around how to run an organisation. These are the softer skills, which may look simple, but are deceptively so.

There is nothing simple about empowering people so that the decisions they make and the actions they take are aligned with the overall values and strategy of the organisation. It is not easy to remember the importance of rewarding your team continuously with praise and acknowledgement of milestones achieved, especially while you’re steering an organisation to an endpoint over the horizon.

Leading is less about analytics and decisions, and much more about aligning, motivating, and empowering others to make those decisions. These truths are part of essential elements of leadership. Although strategic and practical, they are inspiring and motivational, as the entire organisation becomes aligned behind a greater purpose and a grander mission that is bigger than any one individual.

To be a leader is to make others believe; in challenging times to convey that “everything will be okay,” and that together the team will find a way forward. As a leader, you must have confidence in your own ability, but most important in your team. Leadership is humbling, knowing that it is never about you, as the leader. Leadership is all about what others achieve.

No matter how many times a footballer practices a shot, what counts most is his performance with the team. So too it is with leadership. Leaders seek feedback on what can be improved, make the change, and measure the outcome. Leaders review some performance indicators on a daily basis and others weekly. However, the best measure of all is talking to and observing customers and employees. Through the tone, cadence, and content of the feedback you receive, you can glean what no computer screen or spread-sheet can reveal; you can gauge the subtleties of whether the organisation is engaged and aligned to the purpose, vision, and strategy, as well as where the opportunities and challenges can be found.

The softer side of leadership is vital to results because if unheeded, it will become a leader’s blind spot. 

Being a leader, being a CEO, is not just a position; it is a privilege and a responsibility. 

The lessons learned from the leadership journey are numerous. Leaders are not simply messengers of corporate strategy. The leader’s job is to be the message—not only in words, but in demeanour, mannerisms, decisions, and actions.

It is the nuances of leadership that make the difference—the soft side, which just may be the hardest part of all.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Positive Leadership: Performing with Integrity and Character

Still as inspiring as the first time we saw it!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Power of Smiling

If you're looking to lower your stress levels, improve your health and live longer, the antidote may be as simple as learning to smile more. 

Entrepreneur and health advocate, Ron Gutman gave a TED talk last year that distilled 200 years of research into the science of smiling into a seven minute presentation. Gutman delves into studies from around the world and presented countless reasons why we should commit to smiling more.

Who would have thought that:

A person's life span can be predicted by the size of their smile. A 2010 study examining the smiles of major league baseball players on pre-1950s collector's cards found that those who weren't smiling lived an average of seven years less than those with beaming smiles.

Smiling makes you happier than chocolate. A UK study found that to replicate the brain stimulation of one smile you would need to eat the equivalent of 2,000 bars of chocolate.

It's not only chocolate that loses out to smiling - just one smile generates the same brain stimulation as receiving ₤16,000 in cash.

Not only does smiling helps reduce stress enhancing hormones, but it enhances our levels of mood enhancing hormones and lowers blood pressure.

Gutman's presentation is a real eye opener and leaves you with a new appreciation of the power behind our simplest and most universal facial expression.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Positive Leadership: Resilience and Learning from Failure

With the recent launch of its "failure week", London's Wimbledon High School is teaching its pupils to embrace risk, give things a go and not be afraid of the unknown. As one of the UK's top girls' schools, the focus is to ensure that students understand that failure is a normal part of life and learn the merits of not succeeding all the time. Over the course of the week, pupils attend workshops and assemblies, as well as hear stories of their own parents' and teachers' failures.

When Headmistress Heather Hanbury arrived at the school four years ago, she made a commitment to developing the resilience and robustness of her students. Some were so focused on academic success that the fear of failure was crippling them. Conscious of ensuring the stress doesn’t get the best of the girls, "failure week" is an attempt to teach her pupils how to 'fail better'.

It's not just young people who are afraid of failure. No matter what your age, a lot can be learned about overcoming your fears by listening to other people's stories. Want to get inspired? Take a look at these videos from Stockholm's Berghs School of Communication where some of the world's most loved creators like Stefan Sagmeister and Paulo Coelho share their experiences.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Positive Leadership: Change is Easier when it is Fun!

One of the easiest ways to change people's behaviour for the better is by making the changed behaviour fun to do.

Have a look at this video and this website -  http://www.thefuntheory.com – interesting!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Positive Leadership: How Good is Your Decision Making Process?

Few business leaders evaluate and consistently review the quality of decision-making in their organisations. There is too little time to look back, say many CEOs, and results are often murky or inconclusive, even in retrospect.

Intelligence failures by the CIA leading up to the Iraq war forced a thorough overhaul of agency decision-making processes. 

There are valuable lessons for CEOs from that review in the way we evaluate employees, understand customers and anticipate competitors:

Be sceptical in evaluating information: Understand where specific information came from to help evaluate its accuracy–and relevance. Too often, decisions are made with faulty data, leading to undesirable outcomes. Solve this problem by asking people to source information on major assertions.

Be more cautious in drawing conclusions: The same information can be interpreted in multiple ways by different people. Provide opportunity in your organisation for conclusions to be challenged by alternative viewpoints. The CIA, for example, sets up “red teams” that are specifically tasked with finding weaknesses, errors and bias.

Avoid “top-down” influence: If employees know that you, as CEO, are looking for certain conclusions, any meaningful decision-making process is rendered useless. People believe their careers are tied to conforming to senior management’s “vision,” so avoid politicising your decision-making process.

Beware of over-compensating for past errors and previous experience: While we are all products of past experience, but don’t be held hostage by it. People and markets change, so continually challenge what you think you know. But don’t get caught in “analysis paralysis,” and once a decision is made, don’t allow second-guessing. “Learning from past mistakes is imperative,” said Thomas Fingar, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council. “Worrying about them is pointless.”


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Positive Leadership: Collaboration Opportunities


Monday, May 14, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Power of Teamwork

 ‘You stare through a gold tinted visor, as sweat stings your eyes and blurs your vision. Over the background engine and airflow noise, you hear through your headset, “Up we go, a little more pull!” as you ease back on the stick in the $30 million high performance jet fighter you’re flying.

Your eyes remain glued to the formation of five other aircrafts merely inches away; your ears are tuned in to every word and syllable spoken. Years of training and preparation have taught you to rely on all your senses to make continuous corrections and maintain control of the aircraft as it exceeds 400 miles per hour.

Your muscles become fatigued from fighting the 35 pounds of force you are countering on the stick, and the fluctuations of the g-force imposed on your body throughout the show. You cannot let up. You must burn through the ever present distractions and sensations.

The physical strain doesn’t compare to the mental exertion required. Your blue flight suit is soaked with perspiration from the intense focus required to perform and survive. The aerial manoeuvres you perform in a six-plane formation, wing-tip to wing-tip, exceed what other aerobatic pilots struggle to perform solo.

Most people think of the Blue Angels team as six shiny blue and gold F/A-18 Hornets that take to the skies, thrilling millions. But, like all successful organisations, what goes on behind the scenes is what drives the Blue Angels' success. The dedication of the support personnel and maintenance crew is what keeps these high performance machines in the air.

While I enjoyed the rewards that come with being a Blue Angel pilot, numerous other men and women with advanced skill sets sacrifice countless hours on the road, away from their families, to ensure the team’s success.

To see these dedicated professionals in action, day after day, represents the true power of teamwork.’


Friday, May 11, 2012

Positive Leadership: It's Culture That Drives Results

Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks Inc., explains that it is culture that drives results:

'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.'


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Importance of Mental Toughness in Winning

Rugby is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. The world’s top players didn’t get to where they are today relying on talent alone. 

Success takes drive and dedication to both mental and physical training. 

Ever wondered why players at the end of their careers play consistently better than their younger counterparts? It all comes down to mental toughness.

International Rugby Academy (IRANZ) MD Murray Mexted recently wrote a column on The Roar extolling the virtues of making mental toughness a training priority. IRANZ places focus on developing mental toughness, defining it as “the ability to perform at your maximum every time you play.”

Peak Performance begins in the mind. While players naturally develop the mental skills and mind management techniques as they become more experienced, teaching them to a player (yes, it is teachable) at the start of their career will help them become more successful on and off the field.

Players need to realise everyone is motivated differently, find what works for them and develop it into a process. Meanwhile the coaches need to finely tune each player, working with them to turn what works for them from process to habit.

Rugby is all about the challenge, and mind management is the greatest one facing coaches in today’s game. The game is full of incredibly skilled players, but it’s up to the coaches to tap into their mind and find what motivates them. No easy task, but it’s what the great coaches in sport and in business are able to do.

For further information on how Positive Leadership can help you become mentally tougher, please contact: gavin.hastings@positiveleadership.co.uk


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Positive Leadership: 50,000 Page Views for the Positive Leadership Blog

Thanks to everyone who reads the Positive Leadership Blog for taking us over the 50,000 page views mark. We are delighted! We hope that you continue to find our leadership related posts interesting and stimulating.

Positive Leadership: How is Your Credibility?

Leaders and managers spend a lot of time and effort thinking about how to develop their people’s talent, shape their performance, and motivate them to improve.

But when was the last time you focused on yourself? Specifically, how’s your credibility? Does it need some attention? 

Here are 10 ways to boost your credibility with colleagues, customers, and everyone else within your sphere of influence:

1. Demonstrate ownership and a sense of urgency. Your colleagues and customers want a quick turnaround when they have a problem or concern. Show them they matter.

2. Be clear on when you will respond. When a problem or concern arises, quickly communicate details on how you will fix the issue, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

3. Return calls and emails promptly. Don’t let emails sit in your inbox unanswered, and don’t hide behind your voicemail—especially if you’ve made a mistake. Be reachable.

4. Meet face-to-face when possible. Email is handy, but it isn’t the right mode of communication for resolving conflicts, having discussions, or expressing feelings.

5. Be open, candid, and transparent. Don’t withhold information that you should be sharing. Don’t force others to ask for the truth; volunteer it. Being open instils trust.

6. Earn trust—don’t ask for it. The worst thing a manager can say is “Trust me!” Build credibility with your actions and you’ll never have to ask for it.

7. Follow through with agreements. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Never make others beg for information that you said you would provide.

8. Admit your mistakes. Be accountable for your actions. Nothing destroys credibility more than blaming everyone else and refusing to point your finger at yourself.

9. Restate commitments. If a customer or colleague agrees to anything, restate back to them what they’ve just agreed to. That way there will be surprises—from you or from them.

10. Set a good example. If you blame others, worry, get hysterical, do things in a mediocre way, have disorganised methods, or fail to see others’ potential, so will your colleagues.


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Positive Leadership: Ethical Leadership

Nobel Prize laureate Professor Amartya Sen, spoke on "David Hume and the Demands of Ethics" on Monday, July 18, 2011.

The Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University gave his lecture as part of Edinburgh University's celebration of philosopher David Hume's 300th birthday.


Monday, May 07, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Role of Emotions in Decision Making

Do you know what drives your decisions or those of your organization?

Stanford Business School Professor Baba Shiv discusses emotions and decision-making in this hugely entertaining video.

Professor Shiv describes the neural underpinnings of the role emotion plays in the decision-making process and how ignoring emotion may lead to sub-optimal decisions.


Friday, May 04, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Leadership Philosophy of Steve Jobs and Apple

Simpler is always better: Jobs’ advice: “One product, one box”.

Blunt communication works: Bluntness leaves no room for confusion, distraction or complexity.

Good leaders can compartmentalise: Jobs compartmentalised criticism so he could move towards his goals.

Small groups work better: Restrict meetings to people who would be discussing the topic at hand.

Keep things minimal and move quickly: Apple campaigns are put out within a month.

Simple names are superior: Apple does not hire naming experts; it relies on a small internal team and a group of advertising consultants.

Simplicity is human: Not a five-gigabyte drive on an iPod, but a “thousand songs in your pocket”.

Simplicity even works in retail: Focus on quality, uncluttered and inviting design and fantastic customer service.


Positive Leadership: Is This You?


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Positive Leadership: Tom Peters on Leadership

Tom Peters on the Definition of Leadership from Tom Peters on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Positive Leadership: Learning from Sacrifice and Mistakes

U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps took home eight historic gold medals in Beijing. One of the reasons Phelps attracts such a large fan base is his likeable, down-to-earth approach to life. 

Here are three ways Phelps maintains a healthy life balance in spite of the rigours of being an international sports icon.

1. On Sacrifice

"Growing up in high school, I wasn't hanging out with friends every day or on the weekends. Doing normal high-school things was something I was willing to give up." Phelps stepped out and devoted himself to a seemingly unachievable goal. Hard work does in fact pay off, and by applying your talents and avoiding the temptation to divert along the way, you'll reach your own podium.

2. Learning from Mistakes

"Having my DUI happen was a learning experience. Being in a college environment, it's my job to try and help make sure people don't make the same mistake I made. I've learned so much, just from having an experience like that, and I think I've grown up more from that experience than from before.”

Much like your own, Phelps’ life isn't without setbacks, failings and challenges. Following his DUI arrest at 19, Phelps visited several elementary schools, warning children about the importance of making good choices. By accepting responsibility for his actions, Michael learned from his mistake and made the best of an unfortunate situation.

3. Learn to Love the Unknown

"[After swimming,] I don't know what I want to do. I definitely want to stay in sports, but I'm not sure what field I want to go into. And no, I'm not dreading it. There's going to be a time when I'm ready to retire—but definitely not yet. "

It's easy to get caught up thinking about, and planning for, the future. Realise that it's all right not to have every aspect of your life charted out—enjoy the present for what it is and approach it without fear. After all, what's the point of working hard to enjoy the future if you're a neurotic wreck when you get there? Exactly.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Positive Leadership: Attitude


Positive Leadership: Our Vision

Clients often ask us how we wish to be perceived. 

Our vision for Positive Leadership is quite simple. 

We hope that:

  • our published ideas set us apart as leading scholars. 
  • our ability to radically transform organisations sets us apart as advisers. 
  • our relentless drive to improve the lives of leaders and everyone around them sets us apart as people.
For further information, please contact: graham.watson@positiveleadership.co.uk