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Conversations as a leadership intervention

Oct 18th

We hear a lot about the art of giving feedback, but less about the skills involved in receiving feedback. The way you respond when you perceive a critical message sends a powerful signal about what leaders care about. That makes it one of the most important factors that shape the culture – usually not something best done off the top of your head.

You can send a positive signal in response to even the most negative or clumsily-phrased message. I once saw a Chief Executive turn the mood of 500 people around just by the way he listened to and acknowledged

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This article is filed under: communication, leadership

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Keep strategy simple (KSS)

Sep 14th

It’s one of the lesser joys of being an organisational consultant when the client hands you their latest strategy study. It’s invariably long and full of great analysis. All very clever stuff you are tempted to say, but does anyone really understand it? Most good strategy comes down to a few simple ideas which you can often express as simple ‘shifts’. These capture the essence of what is going to be different in the future, for example:

‘Moving from being a regional player to being a global player’
‘Moving from being a set of disconnected businesses to being one firm’
‘Moving from a

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This article is filed under: strategy process

Leaders must step up to avoid excessive risk taking in financial institutions

Aug 23rd

Bank reforms will not stop banks from taking excessive risks in the future according to an academic report by Professor Simon Ashby (i), released today.  He says that, without a cultural change, excessive risk appetite will continue.

Twenty senior risk professionals from the banking industry took part in the study.  They placed much less emphasis than external experts (who have predominantly reported before)  on economic and market factors, such as low interest rates or the growth in securitisation, and much more on human and social aspects of the crisis within the institutions and the regulatory machinery. Instead, they saw inappropriate risk

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This article is filed under: communication, financial risk, organisational culture, organisational risk

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The real value of customer service

Aug 08th

We’ve all heard and experienced a lot of claptrap about customer service. Which company doesn’t put their customer first? Or rather which company really does? Of course there is good theory (e.g. ‘the Customer value chain’ showing that higher customer service leads to higher profits₁)

I’ve been working recently with two companies which really do go that extra mile and see customer service as major competitive advantage. They’re both in very different markets – one high end luxury consumer brand, the other a commodity supplier, essentially business-to-business. Both are in ‘challenger’ market positions, with some much bigger and more powerful brands

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This article is filed under: employee motivation, , organisational culture

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Leaders or leadership?

Jul 12th

Companies have to move fast these days in order to stay ahead of the game.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple puts it like this: “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.”
We know that the quickest way to shift gears is through a shift in leadership behaviour.  In most cases, people think about leaders as individuals.  Heifetz and Linsky, however, point out that leaders tend to be people who are placed in positions of authority, and

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This article is filed under: leadership, leadership development

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The dangers of losing your sense of direction

Jun 15th

As we witness David Cameron’s latest ‘flip flops’ on key policy areas of health and social care and crime last week, and hear Rowan Williams’ strong comments about the impact of having no clear leadership direction and underpinning values in the current Coalition government, a striking image sprang to mind . Try Googling the words ‘confused picture’ and it’s one of the top four images that pop up. It’s a signpost with the words ‘Confused, Lost, Perplexed, Disoriented, Unsure and Bewildered’ on its posts – all pointing in different directions. It was used recently by several different employees in a

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This article is filed under: communication, leadership, values

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4 steps from blame to learning

May 18th

A strong learning culture is increasingly important to all organisations. If something changes, (think iPad) or something goes wrong (think BP), adapting is what helps organisations survive.

So how do you turn mistakes or ideas into real organisational learning?

Understand your current culture: Leaders may think they are encouraging learning, but get a group of individuals in a room, from different levels, and ask them how it really is. Good questions might be: “What do you do if you have a good idea?”, “What stops you reporting things that go wrong?” “What usually happens when you suggest something to your manager?”
Communicate with

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This article is filed under: organisational culture

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Virginia Merritt on SimplyTV

May 06th

A video round-up of the latest information, views and news from the world of internal Communications, from Simply TV.

The May edition features our very own Virginia Merritt interviewed on our recent work with a highly-publicised global safety campaign.  Just click here to view (and select the slide index tab to jump straight to Virginia’s interview).

This video also features:

Aldo Liguori, Communications Advisor to Sony Ericsson, discussing crisis communication in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Japan;
VMA Group’s Charlotte Butler in an exclusive interview on industry trends found in the recruiting firm’s soon-to-be-published 2011 Professional Development in Internal Communication survey; and
Chicago-based consultant and seminar leader, Jim

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This article is filed under: communication, organisational culture, safety