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Friday, May 31, 2013

Positive Leadership: Perseverance


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Positive Leadership: A Winning Mentality

As those who read this blog know, we have been interested in ‘winning’ for a long time and in particular, how the world’s top athletes and sports teams nurture and sustain the peak performance which is necessary in order to maintain their winnings streaks.

Sport has many lessons to teach us about how to be our best. It has it all. Highs and lows. Community, tenacity, commitment. Performing at your best under intense pressure. The crucial importance of taking action when the right moment strikes; and what to do in the face of failure.

So when we came across this article from blogger Geoffrey James on getting yourself in the mental state to win, we thought it was absolutely appropriate to our thinking.

Here are some takeaways from the article:

See the moments coming: Be prepared when it counts. Don’t run into the day blindly.

Adopt a winner’s physiology: How you look affects how you feel. Stand up tall. Look people in the eye.

Visualise the winning outcome: Lots of runners imagine themselves crossing the finish line. It helps them get from where they are to where they want to be.

Mentally rehearse what you’ll say and do: Now that you’ve seen yourself past the finish line, what are the steps you need to take to get there?

Disconnect from goals and results: Be in the moment.

Take action: Make things happen!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Positive Leadership: Positive Energy!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Positive Leadership: Who Wants to Lead a Large Corporation?

How many young people today want to become leaders of large corporations? Too few!


Many young people simply lack trust in today’s leadership models. Here are some of the concerns they voice:

Are leaders transparent enough in their actions?  

Often times, leaders are not open enough about how they make the big decisions that impact their organisations. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for people to hold their leaders to account. When the research team at the Future of Work Research Consortium asked over 3,000 corporate executives about the significance of various leadership traits, they ranked transparency as increasingly important in the future. Yet they also acknowledged that right now this was not a well-developed capacity and is a high-risk trait in need of attention.

Are leaders engaging their stakeholders effectively? 

Some believe that leadership teams of large corporations seem to be stuck in traditional management models that do not help them build trusting relationships with stakeholders. Inside corporations they can fail to create effective democratic processes with employees, while externally they aren’t always demonstrating real commitment to wider social challenges. This is a major challenge for leaders as people increasingly look at companies’ ethical practices and the way they treat employees when deciding whether to trust them or not. It’s clear from the broader research that delivering consistently strong financial performance does not guarantee a corporation the trust of its stakeholders unless accompanied by good practice and ethical behaviour.

Do leaders do as they say? 

A recurring theme is the challenge of intent and actions. Leaders may talk about strong corporate values, but some are all too quick to bypass them in the interest of the bottom line. No doubt this scepticism is a response to the wave of corporate scandals in 2012 that has increased suspicions about corporate leaders. A global survey by consulting firm Edelman Berland, found that less than 1 in 5 people believe business leaders will actually tell the truth when confronted with a difficult issue. 

It is clear that there is still much scepticism about leadership intent. What we need now is deeper insight into what it takes to restore some of the lost faith in today’s corporate leadership.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Positive Leadership: The Role of Business Education in 2013

The Wall Street Journal sounded the death-knoll for business schools back in 1985. Applications were dropping. Mass closures were on the cards. The same headlines have appeared periodically since. Eight years later the New York Times headlined with “Business Schools Hit Hard Times Amid Doubt Over Value of MBA”. Last year it was Forbes asking “Is the MBA Obsolete?” 

If you scan the latest stories on business sites and in magazines, it seems to be in fashion to give the impression that innovation and talent trumps education. But is it true?

What is true is that the nature of business has changed. Lines of communication have evolved. Globalisation has opened up new markets and competition is fierce. Innovation is now a global catch-cry and anyone with a half-baked idea is trying to sell it. Yet we are still short of quality business managers.

In reality, it isn’t a competition between natural talent and formal education. We need both. What is important is that business schools adapt their style of teaching. They must ensure our next generation of leaders are learning techniques relevant to today. In America alone, 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. These are the people who have been our business leaders for the past 30 years and we are struggling to replace them.

Business schools know this. They also know the demands on modern managers are unique in the information age. Yale rewrote its curriculum back in 2006 and continues to regularly review it. Wharton rolled out a whole new plan last year. We are seeing a shift to customised courses tailored for 21st century enterprise. There is a greater focus (particularly in North America) on leadership, trouble-shooting, problem solving and communication skills.

Business isn’t just about brilliant product, it’s about people (ideally, both brilliant). Success will come from ensuring that young people who have chosen business as their career have the right knowledge, skills and attitudes to lead.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Positive Leadership: The Impact of Short Term Profitability Motives on Leadership Decision Making

According to the London Business School, 77% of business leaders say the search for short-term profitability has lead to poor leadership decisions!



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Positive Leadership: What is Power?


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Positive Leadership: Make Today Count!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Positive Leadership: Influencing Up

Stanford Professor David L. Bradford shares his top tips on how to influence your boss and overcome power gaps in his new book "Influencing Up".

Bradford is the Eugene O'Kelly II senior lecturer in leadership (emeritus) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Allan R. Cohen of Babson College co-wrote the book.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Positive Leadership: Why Britain Has Not Produced a Google or a Facebook

London Mayor, Boris Johnson at his trenchant best -

‘I remember what the doubters said when we first announced a new bus for London – a replacement for the beloved Routemaster. They said I was mad. The Labour Party said I was deranged. My opponents said I was a swivel-eyed loon, or words to that effect. They said we were showing an arrant disregard for health and safety, and that in any case, it would never be built.

Where is it, they used to sneer at me, as Sir Peter Hendy and Transport for London began the necessarily lengthy process of procurement. When’s the bus due, eh? And when the first prototype finally turned up in 2011, the machine managed to conk out on the M1 (because someone had forgotten that a diesel hybrid still needs to be filled with diesel). The sceptics laughed their pants off.

So it gives me unbridled joy to inform you that the new bus will shortly arrive en masse. A whole gleaming fleet of them is about to take over Route 24, from Pimlico to Hampstead Heath; and in the next two years they will cease to be a curiosity – a rare species of charismatic megafauna that you might spot once in the course of a safari. They will be a glorious and regular addition to London’s streetscape, as famous and as emblematic as the elephants of the Serengeti, whose noble and domelike brows they faintly resemble.

When I went to Antrim last week, and saw dozens of them being made in the new Wrightbus plant, I felt a sense of awe, and the deep certainty that this was the most wonderful project I had ever been involved in. It has clean, green hybrid technology. If the new bus fulfils the promise it has shown in tests, we will be able to save so much on fuel that it will actually come out cheaper than our current hybrid buses. With 600 of them on the streets by 2016, they will make a significant reduction in nitrogen oxides and particulates, and will help us to improve air quality in the city.

The bus is a masterpiece of design, conceived by Thomas Heatherwick, the magician who created the Olympic cauldron. It helps to drive employment throughout the UK – unlike the wretched bendy buses, which were made in Germany. London’s buses are creating hundreds of jobs at the plants in Northern Ireland, but it does not stop there. The engines come from Darlington, the seats are made in Telford, the seat moquette in Huddersfield, the ramps are from Hoddesdon and the “Treadmaster” flooring from Liskeard. Oh, and the destination signs are from Manchester.

It is the embodiment of the point I often make, that investment in London boosts the rest of the UK economy, directly and indirectly. We have stimulated the very best of British technology, creating jobs in this country, and yes, we are now looking to potential export markets.

All these features make the bus remarkable; but there is one more thing about it – the best thing of all. This bus stands for freedom, and choice, and personal responsibility. It not only fulfils a promise often made to Londoners by bringing back conductors; it restores to the streets of London the open platform at the rear – and in so doing, it restores the concept of a reasonable risk.

We all remember the pleasure of the old Routemasters. It wasn’t anything to do with the way their flanks heaved and throbbed like wounded old warhorses. It wasn’t the boggler-boggler-boggler noise or the fumes of diesel. It was the way you could sit on those banquette seats at the back, high over the wheel arches, and watch the road passing you outside. And if the bus got stuck in traffic, or at the lights, you knew that you weren’t a prisoner. You were allowed to get on and off at will, provided the thing wasn’t moving, and now that freedom and benefit will be restored.

Of course, you will have to be careful. You should look around to make sure there aren’t any motorbikes or cycles approaching. But if the road is clear and the traffic is stationary, and you want to hop off and do some shopping – or if you have missed the bus at the stop, and you want to scoot down the street to catch it up – then the option is there. You can hop on and hop off, like the hop-on hop-off hoplites who were trained to leap from moving chariots and then back on again.

Yes, of course there is a risk; but that risk is manageable; and without it you have no opportunity to ascend or escape the bus if you want to. It is, as far as I know, one of the few recent examples of a public policy that actually gives back, to sentient and responsible adults, the chance to take an extra risk in return for a specific reward.

We need to develop this thought, because I worry that in the post-crisis world, we have become all too paranoid, too risk-averse. Yes, the banks made grotesque errors, largely because they could not understand the risks they were taking. But unless we allow businesses and banks to take reasonable risks, they will never hit the jackpot at all.

Why is it that Britain hasn’t produced a giant like Google, or Facebook, or Amazon? It is because such a business, in the UK, would not have been given access to the capital required. We are more hostile to risk, and, indeed, we are more hostile to reward. If you go to San Francisco, where so many of these tech giants were born, you can see the most bizarre tram I have ever set eyes on. People hang from it like gibbons as it swoops and clangs through the streets. It would never be allowed in Europe. But the San Francisco authorities evidently believe that Americans are more robust – more willing to be free, more willing to make their own assessment of a reasonable risk.

If you look at the state of the eurozone, and you compare it with the US economy, you can see the possible advantages of this approach. And that is the point of the hop-on hop-off platform. In restoring a culture of reasonable risk-taking, it is a platform for growth.’


Friday, May 17, 2013

Positive Leadership: What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?

What motivates us to work?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn't just money. But it's not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. 

In this TED Talk, behavioural economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work. 

It's become increasingly obvious that the dismal science of economics is not as firmly grounded in actual behaviour as was once supposed. In "Predictably Irrational," Dan Ariely tells us why. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Positive Leadership: How Culture Supersedes Vision

RenĂ© Carayol specialises in leadership and culture. 

Drawing from his own unique experiences on the boards of the biggest British and American organisations; from Marks & Spencer and Pepsi to IPC Media and the Inland Revenue, René has had the privilege of working closely with some of the world's best leaders, including; Sir Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan and Colin Powell.

In this talk, he reveals  how culture supersedes vision and endures the most extraordinary situations. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Positive Leadership: How Bad Do You Want It?


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Positive Leadership: Turning Pressure into an Asset

Pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity.’ – Michael Johnson, US Olympic Gold Medallist

Here are six things experienced leaders do that transform pressure from a liability to an asset:

Know Thyself: Leaders must know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and where they will and won’t compromise. When a leader is comfortable in their own skin they won’t fear dissenting opinion and diversity of thought, they’ll encourage it. Knowing who you are frees you to become a better thinker and a better leader.

Lead: A leader’s job is to acquire and develop talent. The larger the organisation you lead, the more your performance is dependent upon the talent of your team. The better the talent, and the better you utilise talent, the less pressure you’ll feel. The key to capacity, throughput, and scale is not found by doing – but by developing others to do. Leaders who feel the least amount of pressure are those who spend the most time acquiring and developing talent. Conversely, leaders who feel the most pressure are those who feel they must do everything themselves.

Keep It Simple: Complexity creates pressure. The best leaders look to simplify everything they can. Simplicity rarely equates to a lack of sophistication – it actually demonstrates remarkable elegance. Simplicity drives understanding, which leads to a certainty of execution. One truism you can count on is performance relives pressure.

Get Alignment: Great leaders strive for the following: one vision – one team – one agenda. Organisations that have a shared purpose, common values, and aligned interests are simply more productive than organisations that don’t. Alignment of values and vision take the complexity out of decision-making, and removes the ambiguity from the process of prioritisation. Leaders who have organisational alignment feel less pressure than those who don’t.

Focus: Focused leaders rarely feel external pressure. Unfocused leaders feel as if pressure is coming at them from all directions. Focus affords leaders clarity of thought that a cluttered mind will never realise. It’s not possible to lead an organisation toward a better future when a leaders mind can’t see through the fog. An organisation is never under greater pressure, or at greater risk, than when leaders lose their focus.

Create Whitespace: The best way to maintain focus is to make sure you’ve allowed for some whitespace EVERY day. Any rubber band stretched too tightly will eventually snap – there are no exceptions to this rule. Leaders who don’t create time for quality thought and planning end-up taking unnecessary short cuts and risks. They let pressure force them into making bad decisions that a little whitespace could have prevented.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Positive Leadership: The Importance of Failing

The anatomy of a successful champion–in any field–doesn’t consist of 100% ‘perfection.'

There has never been an individual who has eased his or her way through a bountiful life with any struggles at all. To truly become a winner, one needs to step out of a comfort zone–and experience what people consider ‘failure’ at some point.

At Positive Leadership we don’t see anything as a failure. If you gave your all in something and were able to learn, it becomes a valuable learning experience, not a failure.

With great effort and great enthusiasm, any individual has the ability to succeed in any field. Focus on the things you can control and stay true to a keen vision of where you see yourself. In doing that, you’ll never fail.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Walt Disney was fired for “lacking imagination.” Oprah Winfrey was said to be “not fit for television.”

Remember, if you’ve never ‘failed,’ you’ve never tried anything new.

What will you become?


Friday, May 10, 2013

Positive Leadership: The Meaning of Leadership Vision

The meaning of vision is not a license for dreamy fantasy or overweening ambition. 

It stands for the leader’s special responsibility:

- to see what is not visible to his or her people; to rise above and survey     the landscape
- to find ideas, resources and talent to feed into the ensemble
- to help people understand the forces that carry them between the past, the present and the future
- to see into people’s hearts and minds and imagine how they best work together
- to direct, align and shape the enterprise to achieve excellence.

This demands a mix of investigative and influencing skills. 

The former may mean going under cover in your own organisation, or, at the least, talking to people other than those who are closest to you and have a good opinion of you. Leaders can be coached in what we call “decentering” – seeing the world through others’ eyes – especially useful with one’s enemies! The latter means techniques that enable the leader to clearly and coherently shape the reality of his or her stakeholders: their beliefs, expectations, wants and vision of the future. 

The last of these calls upon the most important tool in the leader’s repertoire – the ability to create a credible and compelling narrative. This will have four elements:
  • Who am I and why I am here
  • Who are we and what do we stand for
  • Where are we going and why
  • Why we must change.

These help people make sense of the world they inhabit, to identify with the organisation’s central purpose, and to create positive engagement. 

But the most critical kernel of vision is the first of the stories. This is the leader’s value proposition – his or her narrative about their personal journey to now, the principles that guide them, and the promises they make to their people for the future. This is the real meaning of leadership vision.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

Positive Leadership: Where Are US CEO's Educated?


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Positive Leadership: Execution is Everything!

The Stanford Graduate School of Business View from the Top Series hosted venture capitalist John Doerr in a question and answer session where he helped enlighten students on such topics as start-ups, healthcare and jobs in emerging markets. 

Doerr, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, emphasised that "The best entrepreneurs are the ones who really go the distance with their companies, who are always learning."

Doerr serves on boards in the areas of Internet technologies and greentech, including Amyris, Bloom Energy, Essence Healthcare, Flipboard, FloDesign Wind Turbines, Google, iControl, mCube, Renmatix and Quantumscape. He also works with Groupon, Twitter and Square.


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Positive Leadership: It's Possible


It may last for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or even a year. But eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit however, it will last forever. I dare you to take a little pain. I dare you. I dare you not to go home. Somebody said "I feel bad, I'm gonna go home." Go through it. You’re not going to die!

At the end of pain is success. You’re not going to die because you're feeling a little pain. I'm not eating like I eat at home. That's why you're going to go to the next level, because if you ate like you ate at home, you're going to remain a boy or a girl. It’s time to become men and women. But I'm exactly where I want to be because I got to commit my entire being to this thing. I got to breath it, sleep it, eat it.

Until you get there, you'll never be successful in life. But once you get there, I guarantee you the world is yours. So work hard and you can have whatever it is that you want.'


Monday, May 06, 2013

Positive Leadership: Advice for #Entreprenuers in Building a #VC Friendly Business Model

This excellent discussion with Stanford University Professor Haim Mendelson explores the best approach for putting together a business model and how to use it for new business development opportunities.

Learn why the business model is a blueprint for planning, and then building, new businesses that include startups or a new line of business within an established company.


Friday, May 03, 2013

Positive Leadership: The Role of Sport in Facilitating Social Change

"Sport is one of the best tools for social change because it is a large part of cultures around the world and reaches into every socioeconomic class of society. If laws are put in place, the benefits will be beyond measure. Sport helps develop self-esteem and confidence; improve physical and mental well-being, serve as a medium of communication and empower women to improve themselves and their communities."

Nawal El Moutawakel, 1984 Olympic gold medallist, Morocco 


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Positive Leadership: Good Leadership and Good Performance - The Financial Facts

There is unequivocal evidence in every sector that there is a strong relationship between leadership capability and performance. 

Good leadership leads to a good organisational climate and good organisational climates lead, via improved staff satisfaction and loyalty, to sustainable, high performing organisations.

The impact of good leadership on organisational performance as measured by the business and commercial success is extremely well evidenced:
  • A study in the Harvard Business Review (Bassi and McMurrer 2007) provides a strong link between leadership skills and the bottom line.
  • The Institute for Strategic Change reports that the stock price of companies perceived to be well-led grew 900 per cent over 10 years versus 74 per cent for companies perceived to lack good leadership (2008).
  • The Corporate Leadership Council estimates that employees working for good leaders put in 57 per cent more effort and are 87 per cent less likely to leave than those with poor leaders.
  • The Hay Group study of 2012 demonstrated that the top 20 companies for leadership had a 36 times better shareholder return over a 5 year period than the companies with the poorest leadership.
  • Murray Dalziel, Director of Liverpool Business School summarises: “There is incontrovertible evidence from the academic literature that leadership makes a difference. Across a wide range of industries about 15 per cent of the variance in performance can be directly attributed to CEO performance. This figure has been constant for over 25 years.”


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Positive Leadership: Winning Entrepreneurs

What are the most important characteristics of winning entrepreneurs?

They must have a strong desire to compete and win, an intuitive understanding of marketplaces and how to serve them, and a deep understanding of technology and how it can be used to serve marketplaces. Those three things are fundamental. A fourth is high integrity and decent behavior. If you don’t have that you will have a short run at success but you won’t make it long term. Also, we have never met a successful entrepreneur who didn't have zeal.