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Friday, August 31, 2012

Positive Leadership: Finding the Power Within

Excellent Nike ad on 'finding the power within' - especially the point about 'patience'. All leaders should have drive, determination, impatience with how things are ... and patience. We know - leaership's a bag of contradictions, isn't it!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Positive Leadership: Unleashing Collective Genius

As business leaders, each of us is faced with a similar dilemma today. How do we need to change to stay effective despite the rapid and continuous change we are faced with in the business environment today?

Linda A. Hill, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, a widely read author, and the Faculty Chair of the Leadership Initiative, discusses how leaders need to be value creators and game changers.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Positve Leadership: #UsainBolt - The Art of Winning

Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth, made his third visit to IMD on August 22nd, 2012 to share the secrets of his continued success with 350 business executives.


Positive Leadership: Team Turnarounds

In today’s uncertain economic environment, teams are asked to do more with less. With resources stretched thin, turning around a struggling team has never been harder, and managers must work to identify and maximise whatever potential strengths a team already has. As sports fans already know, behind every great underdog story is a leader who roots out the competitive advantage that will propel the team to victory. In their excellent book, Team Turnarounds, Joe Frontiera and Dan Leidl share how this fine art of the turnaround really works, from how to inspire the team to the actual tools for change.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Positive Leadership: Be Proud


Monday, August 27, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Anatomy of a CEO


Friday, August 24, 2012

Positive Leadership: Failing Successfully


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Positive Leadership: The Lost Culture of the Financial Services Industry

Culture is everything when it comes to responsible, long-term business success. 

Culture is what exists before any given leader shows up, and it is what exists after any given leader moves on. Culture is in the DNA of an organisation. It is not something that a leader necessarily goes out and creates. A leader’s job is to discover, communicate and reinforce culture. If you don’t get culture right, nothing else matters.

Many of the financial services organisations that have gone astray recently have done so because they lost touch with their culture. They lost touch with their stewardship mission, purpose, values and responsibilities; core elements of the historic culture of the financial services industry.

What we need to do today is not so much invent or create a new culture for the industry but find the way back to the culture that should have been there all along.

Most financial services firms have a culture that at some point, somewhere, was about serving the needs of their clients. It was not just about making money. It was about helping clients achieve their objectives, promoting economic growth and performing a social good. Chances are the people at the firm came to the firm because of the chance to make a positive difference in the world. That ethic is used to be embedded in most financial institutions. Unfortunately we have just lost touch with it in too many cases recently.

As Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, said recently: "Motivation does not come from financial incentives alone. Again, the financial sector has done us all a disservice in promoting the belief that massive financial compensation is necessary to motivate individuals".

Restoring the culture of financial institutions to what it ought to be is the number one leadership challenge right now in the financial services industry. Regulatory reform is not enough. If we are going to keep future financial crises from happening, we have to address cultural failings at the heart of the financial services industry.

Whether or not we get it right will be a case study in leadership for years to come.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Positive Leadership: A Leadership Skills Gap

Fortune 1000 companies do not have enough leaders coming up through the ranks to fill open and future leadership positions, according to a survey by The CARA Group, Inc. 

To remedy the current lack of leadership skills and limited talent pipeline, caused in part by recession cuts to critical leadership programmes, the survey reveals there is an emerging renewed commitment to leadership development among companies of all sizes.

Key findings of the 2012 CARA survey include:
  • More than half—62% of respondents—say their organisations face a leadership skills gap
  • 84% of respondents say their organisations have increased leadership development focus in the last two to three years
  • Only 9% of respondents say their current leadership development programmes are “very effective,” while 56% describe their programmes as only “somewhat effective” or “ineffective”
  • The top three most critical skill gaps of leaders-in-training are leading others (54%), managing change (43%) and strategic planning/vision development (40%)
  • Online learning and development (66%) is the number one way companies are leveraging technology in their leadership development programmes.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Positive Leadership: How Priming Impacts Your Performance

Malcolm Gladwell discusses how what you experience in advance of a situation can profoundly affect the choices you make and the results you get.

This effect is called "priming" and it profoundly effects your expectations and behaviour.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Positive Leadership: There Is an I in Team

Mark de Rond is a professor of Strategy and Organisation at Cambridge University's Judge Business School, where was CEO in Residence for several years. 

He has just released the book There Is an I in Team: What EliteAthletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance that looks at what business can learn from the world of professional sport and how focusing on individual potential elevates team performance. The book is  readable, teachable, innovative and insightful.

According to the author, there are six ways to raise your team performance:
  • The best teams are made up of individuals.
  • Know your limits. How much are you willing to tolerate – even from your most talented team members?
  • “Star performers” are great but be mindful that everyone has their unique strengths. Amazing talent is not transferable.
  • Team players need to be aware that what may work for them as individuals does not necessarily work in a group.
  • Tension within the team may be uncomfortable, but that is not the same as dysfunctional.
  • Create an open environment where people can have their say.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Positive Leadership: Helping Your Followers Succeed

How can you as a leader get work done through others with their commitment and their contagious enthusiasm?

Here are a few ways you can provide followers with what they need to succeed:

  • Maintain an “Open Door.” Encourage them to come to you with their problems and concerns. Listen and respond appropriately.
  • Be accessible and available. Unless you’re on personal leave, make sure they can contact you for any needed clarification or guidance.
  • Allow reasonable schedule flexibility to accommodate their personal needs.
  • Think and plan before assigning work and implementing projects so you can minimise unnecessary changes and extra work.
  • Keep the environment respectful and “safe.” Do not allow derogatory humour, destructive feedback, or the criticising of input and ideas. Take immediate action to stop them if they occur.
  • Back their decisions and act on their recommendations whenever possible and appropriate.
  • Run interference. Be a “go-between” to help team members get any required senior management approvals and interdepartmental cooperation.
  • Minimise obstacles. Identify any organisational factors (including your behaviours) that inhibit team member success. Eliminate or minimise those obstacles as best you can.

Lead well ... LEAD RIGHT!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Positive Leadership: What Winning Means!

BBC commentators Steve Cram and Brendan Foster stand to salute Mo Farah's second gold medal in a thrilling 5,000m race.

In the studio, pundits Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson literally jump for joy as the 29-year-old won Great Britain's 27th gold medal of London 2012.


Positive Leadership: The Education Olympics


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Positive Leadership: London 2012: The Importance of Sport Psychology

BBC Sport journalist Matthew Syed, author of Bounce, explains how important psychology among athletes is in the battle between success and failure.

Each and every competitor has their own routine, superstition and ritual before their sport, which can make a massive difference in their attempt to win gold.

This is what performing under pressure is all about!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Positive Leadership: Support Networks and Success

Procter & Gamble launched its "Thank You, Mom" campaign at the Vancouver Games in 2010. A critical and commercial success, the campaign returned for London 2012. In one execution, a re-working of its 2010 Winter Olympics 'Thank you, mom’ spot, P&G pushes raw emotion to the tear-jerking nth degree with its depiction of mothers worldwide raising children to become champions and sharing their triumph. 'Being a mom is the hardest job in the world,' the ad says, 'but it’s also the best.'

A great Olympic advert!


Positive Leadership: Inspired Leadership - The Historical Perspective on the London 2012 Olympics

In January 2003, a storm was gathering in Washington, Whitehall and Baghdad when the then Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell went to the cabinet with the idea that London should bid for the 2012 Olympics. 

“We started with no votes around the Cabinet Table,” she said. She went round the departments one by one, to Health, Education and Transport, and told them what the Olympics could do for everyone. Tony Blair, whose last minute lobbying later proved so crucial, dismissed the idea at first.

Tony Blair was much more preoccupied with Iraq, and rightly so. I said to him, “How are you going to answer this question. We’re the fourth largest economy in the world, London is the greatest city in the world, we would like to think. What will you say to someone who asks you ‘Why didn’t you dare bid to host the games?’ I’ve never forgotten the way he looked at me.

In his memoir, Blair recalls that Jowell lectured him to man up:

“I really didn’t think that was your attitude to leadership. I thought you were prepared to take a risk. And it is a big risk. Of course we may not win but at least we will have had the courage to try.” When Tessa says this, you feel a complete wimp and rather ashamed. You know she is manipulating you, but you also know it’s a successful manipulation.

I got a call the next morning from his Principle Private Secretary saying ‘The Prime Minister will support your recommendation.”

Two years later, the American businesswoman appointed to lead the bid Barbara Cassani resigned, because she didn’t think an American bid leader would win the games. “She deserves great credit,” said Dame Tessa Jowell.” She said the person who could win it is Seb Coe.

It was only six months later that the double Olympic gold medallist stood on stage in Singapore and said:  ”To make an Olympic champion it takes eight Olympic finalists. To make Olympic finalists, it takes 80 Olympians. To make 80 Olympians it takes 202 national champions, to make national champions it takes thousands of athletes. To make athletes it takes millions of children around the world to be inspired to choose sport.” Jacques Rogge was up not long later, opening his envelope and reading out the word “London.”

From the very start, the London 2012 Olympic bid has been characterised by the single-minded passion, persistence, vision and determination of all those involved in hosting the Games. Congratulations!

For more background into the bid process for the London 2012 Olympic Games, see: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/06/international-olympic-committee-london-summer-olympics)


Monday, August 13, 2012

Positive Leadership: 'If...' The Story of Team GB and the London 2012 Olympics - Pure Magic!


Positive Leadership: Lessons from the Games

Bank of England Governor, Sir Mervyn King said recently that the British economy could learn a number of key lessons from the Olympic Games.

"First, and most important, we have been reminded that an objective that is worth attaining, like a gold medal, requires years of hard work. Success does not come overnight," he said.

"That is as true of our economy as it is of sport. It means reforming our banking system so that banks focus less on making money in the short term, and more on building businesses to serve their customers' interests over the longer term."

The Bank of England boss also said bankers should focus less on money and more on their customers.

He added: "The financial sector has done us all a disservice in promoting the belief that massive financial compensation is necessary to motivate individuals."

The Olympic Games show us that supreme human achievement is the result of a commitment to excellence; nothing more, nothing less.


Positive Leadership: The Legacy of London 2012

The 7 Olympic values have been epitomised by all those involved in organising and participating in the London Olympics.

Congratulations on delivering the greatest show on earth and inspiring a generation!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Positive Leadership: Thinking Like a Gold Medallist

Elite athletes encounter many of the same mental challenges that successful entrepreneurs face on a daily basis, according to JoAnn Dahlkoetter, a sports and performance psychologist in San Carlo, Calif. She should know. In addition to coaching business leaders, Dahlkoetter currently counts five Olympic gold medallists as her clients. She finds that many of the same strategies athletes use to outwit mental obstacles work in business as well. Here's her advice for overcoming three of the most vexing psychological challenges, whether you're a start up or established entrepreneur looking to grow.

Challenge No. 1 - Negative thinking. Slumps happen in athletics, business, and life. Start asking positive questions when you find yourself thinking: I'm not good enough. I can't do this. Nothing is going right. Try: What's good about this situation? What tools and resources do I need to move in the direction I want to go? Asking yourself better questions can help you move forward. Perhaps the big client you lost wasn't the best fit anyway, and now you have the bandwidth to service a bigger, better customer. The more you actively turn around negative thinking, the easier it gets to see opportunities in adversity, Dahlkoetter says.

Challenge No. 2 - Exhaustion. Just as athletes experience injuries and burnout, even the most resilient business owners can get fatigued from putting so much into their businesses. In addition to the sage advice of eating healthfully and getting enough sleep, Dahlkoetter says it's critical to plan breaks ranging from a few hours where you disconnect to a few days away. If that's not possible, take a "mental vacation." Get to a place where you'll be uninterrupted for five or 10 minutes. Breathe deeply and visualise yourself relaxing in a beautiful setting, like at the beach. Sound weird? Research has long shown the positive effects of meditation on stress levels and health. In fact, a new study from the University of Washington found that regular meditation can increase concentration and make you more productive.

Challenge No. 3 - Fear. During the Olympic Games, a decade or more of preparation and training can lead to a single competition. Entrepreneurs have that kind of pressure when they encounter business-threatening obstacles or setbacks. When fear becomes paralysing, you've got to go back to the basics, Dahlkoetter says. "Remind yourself of the skills and talents that got you to the level of success where you are now," she says. "Visualise yourself having the outcome you want over and over and over again." Then, focus on the moment. Don't think about the past or worry about the future. Instead, determine the very next thing you have to do to get the outcome you want. If you're worried about closing a big deal, make a list of the tasks that will give you the best possible advantage--studying competitors' strengths and weaknesses, writing a winning proposal, polishing your presentation--and then tackle those to-dos one by one. Taking positive action is a strong way to dissolve fear, she says.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Positive Leadership: Why Listening is So Important for Leaders

According to research from Columbia Business School, expressing yourself well in combination with listening well makes you more influential than would be expected by simply adding these two skills together.

While there are no real secrets to being a better listener, there are some behaviours that can take effort to change. 

Here are a few suggestions for influential listening:

Don’t follow your instincts - at least not always. Listening is sometimes most valuable when it clashes with your instincts and impulses. In a conflict, when someone is disagreeing with you and you really don’t want to hear them out, that is exactly when listening is most useful.

Capture your own attention - Listening is difficult in part because we have a lot of brain capacity, we can process language at 300 to 500 words per minute. But most people speak around 100 words per minute. So we have extra capacity that makes it challenging to manage our attention — instead we look at the person walking across a room or consider an idea bubbling up in our minds. One way to manage your own attention is to put that extra capacity to work by making more effort to draw out your counterpart through questions or to organise in your own mind the points they are making.

Stop interrupting - For just one week, every time you want cut off another person and forge ahead with your own point, wait. Instead, ask a question. It is a way to reflect on your habits and to get more out of others by understanding their points more completely.

....But don’t be quiet - The gold standard of good listening is not measured by how quiet you are. It’s about doing things to let the other person know that you are seriously considering what he has to say. Elicit information, ask questions, make direct eye contact, and whatever you do, don’t engage in other activities while you claim to be listening.

Implement - The real litmus test is what you do after the conversation. The most persuasive thing a manager can do is to implement what people are saying. The rule should be that as long as others’ recommendation is not worse than what you as a manager would do — you should not hold your staff to a higher standard than you hold yourself — then act on their suggestion. Otherwise you’re losing an opportunity to show that you are good listener and to build relationships and trust. And if the idea is worse? You still need to come back with a reasonable explanation in a way that lets the recipient know his views were seriously considered.


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Positive Leadership: Preparing to Lead

Potential CEO candidates should seek out CEO-calibre experiences before they need it. 

Here are three tips that will make you a better senior leader, strengthen you as a CEO candidate and serve you well if you get the nod:

Stop doing more of the same. Staying in your current role longer isn't the key to readiness. Nor is round after round of career moves that build on what you already do well. Honestly assess your weak spots, identify skills you need and seek out challenges or roles that fill those gaps. If you need strategic planning experience, step up to lead the company's scenario planning efforts. If you need more international experience, lobby to lead the company's entry into a new geographic market. Note that you need to learn and lead as you go — the ability to succeed in unfamiliar territory is an essential CEO skill.

Learn to take a direct hit. Until you are CEO, you have someone else to absorb some of the shock of a poor strategic decision or an operational problem. For CEOs, the shock absorber is gone. No one else can share the blame for poor performance. To get a sense of this, make sure you are taking personal responsibility for key, high-profile initiatives. Can you own the work without micromanaging it? Can you take the hits rather than looking for cover?

Learn how to work with a Board of Directors. Few CEO candidates understand board dynamics, so start learning now by taking leadership roles on boards of local non-profits. Ask your boss or mentor to help you gain a corporate board post where you can use your expertise, but also gain new experience and perspectives. And if you are on the short list of potential CEOs for your company, find ways to get to know individual board members: work with them on committee projects, play host when they visit your site, join them on trips to other company locations, ask for a walk-through of their own business. Understanding different board members' experiences, perspectives and personalities will give you insight into the demands facing the CEO.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Positive Leadership: Honesty is the Best Policy

Good leadership springs from a willingness to recognize uncomfortable truths and to be honest and forthright in tackling them, writes former Tesco CEO Terry Leahy. A keen sense of right and wrong underpins every successful business strategy and helps inspire workers during trying times. "Simple though it may sound, the truth is the best compass to guide one through the storm," Leahy writes.

For more, see: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304870304577488572183024742.html


Monday, August 06, 2012

Positive Leadership: Motivating Your Team to do Better

Do you think you can scare people into doing a better job?

With poor economic news in the headlines seemingly each and every day, it may feel like the only option. However, the trouble with using fear to motivate employees is: it just doesn’t work. Burning platforms and “doom-and-gloom” scenarios can catch people’s attention, but on-going use will spark false urgency and frantic activity, not the sort of urgent, enthusiastic behaviour necessary to drive strategic change. There are other ways to motivate your people to go above and beyond.

Listen to this conversation to learn how to stop pushing and start encouraging.


Friday, August 03, 2012

Positive Leadership: Be Fearless

Having the focus to see beyond your fears can instigate change. When you take risks, embrace the unknown, and ‘go for it’, that is often when you get the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.

AOL founder Steve Case and his wife Jean established the Case Foundation to leverage new technologies that will make the world a better place. They recently launched Be Fearless a campaign that encourages people to take a step forward in their efforts to create lasting social change in their communities. Their mantra is “Take Risks. Be Bold. Fail Forward.”

Jean Case recently outlined 5 key values that help develop a fearless mindset. We suggest you read it. We need more change-makers on this planet. 
  • Make big bets – and make history
    History suggests that the most significant cultural transformations occur when one or more people simply decide to try and make big change.
  • Experiment early and often
    Experience shows us that we need to keep looking around the corner to find the next good idea—because today's iPhone is tomorrow's Walkman.
  • Make failure matter
    Every great innovator has experienced moments of failure, but the truly great among them wear those failures as badges of honour.
  • Reach beyond your bubble
    Collaboration provides new ideas and innovations, as well as “air cover” when sharing risk.
  • Let urgency conquer fear
    Don’t overthink and overanalyse every decision, take a calculated risk and go for it.


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Positive Leadership: How to Win in Business

Some interesting observations from the British Olympic Association’s Director of Sport, Sir Clive Woodward:

'Successful businesses, like successful sport teams, need to remain open to new ideas and to learn how to perform under pressure, according to Sir Clive Woodward, the 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning coach.

Outlining his theory, the British Olympic Association’s Director of Sport said that “great teams are made up of great individuals” and that successful team players shared four characteristics: talent, a willingness to learn, an ability to perform under pressure and the mindset of wanting to be a champion.

Sir Clive argued that “talent is not enough” because there are “bucketloads” of talented competitors. He said top players, like top businessmen and women, needed to be willing to be taught — to be “sponges” instead of “rocks”.

“I’d fly anywhere in the world if I thought it had the smallest chance of [helping] me becoming a better coach or a better manager,” he said.

“Once you lose that ability, that kind of focus, the chances are you’ve become a rock and you’re not going to be competing with that person in the next room.”

He said one of his first actions on becoming head coach of the England rugby team in 1997 was to give each player a laptop and teach them IT skills. “The media had a field day [but] I was trying to find out who the sponges were, who the rocks were. Who the guys in the squad saying ‘this guy isn’t going to be here for long, we don’t need to do this’ were.”

Sir Clive said that the next key component of a successful team member was an ability to perform under pressure, something that he did not believe was inherited.

“Are you born with this gene to play and perform under pressure? I would say absolutely not ... I think this is coachable,” he said. “What you can do is role-play situations you’re going to get into. If you come across something you’ve never seen before, the chances are you would freeze.”

Finally, according to Sir Clive, to become a champion players must have the right attitude, including an “obsession with detail about what you do to beat the person in the next room”.'


Positive Leadership: Lessons from the Olympians

“The Best” will:
  • outwork others
  • be more disciplined than others
  • have greater drive than others
  • be much more competitive than others
  • do things that others think aren't important
  • do the unrequired extra work
  • always want to know what they can do to get better
  • want to be coached, want to be driven, and want to learn more.

These are just some of the characteristics of “The Best" -- all things your players need to recognise in this elite group.  And for all our corporate friends, we think this list is worth thinking about as well. We all can grow and improve if we strive to do these things to the level that “The Best” are willing to do them!

Enjoy watching these special athletes as they once again strive to win! 


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Positive Leadership: Greatness is Wherever Someone is Trying to Find it

Greatness isn't reserved for the chosen few in one special city, it can also be found in London, Ohio, and London, Norway, and East London, South Africa, and Little London, Jamaica, and Small London, Nigeria and the London Hotel and London Road and anywhere else someone is trying to find it.