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Mindful leaders

Jan 21st

Recently on TV a small feature caught my attention. It reported a rather surprising innovation being trialled in a secondary school in Kent which is using lessons on building ‘mindfulness’ to help the pupils be more aware of themselves and what is going on around them.  The pupils themselves are already saying that it is helping them to focus more both in class and in their school work and achieve better results. The classes are simply exercises in ‘mindful meditation’ 

Mindfulness meditation is a Buddhist idea also known as ‘insight’ because the intention is to gain insight into the true nature

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This article is filed under: leadership

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How to live on Planet Introvert

Jan 08th

About 25% of the population are introverts.  This is a minority, but a significant one, especially since there seems to be a greater concentration of introverts amongst intellectually gifted people.

Myers Briggs defines introversion in terms of the source of energy which a person draws on in order to function in the world.  Introverts get their energy from within.  Extroverts need external stimulation (a bit like lizards in the sun). Jung says that we all prefer to behave as introverts or extroverts – one or the other.  We are born with this preference, and it remains with us throughout our lives. 

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This article is filed under: communication,

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Do we have the talent we need for the future?

Dec 04th

This is the question many business leaders are now asking themselves. The recession woke us up, forced us to evaluate our business propositions (a good thing in my view), prompted us to redefine our strategies for the changing marketplace and that is now bringing hard questions about our current talent into sharp focus.

I think it’s shown that in the good times we were much more focused on managing the talent we needed for today; attracting the best, developing and retaining the people that are critical to delivering results in the short term. And we didn’t have to worry too much

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This article is filed under: leadership, talent management

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Lessons to learn from the public sector

Nov 12th

It used to be a one way street.  A public sector anxious to learn would look to the private sector to know how to do things better.  From the public sector reforms of the 80s where ‘private = good, public = bad’, to the Blair reforms with an increasingly mixed market, the public sector has always had a slight inferiority complex about the private sector.  (This perpetuated the myth that there was one homogenous thing called the ‘private sector’ which was uniformly excellent in all that it did…)

But there are distinct signs of the tables turning.   There are some real

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This article is filed under: stakeholder management, values

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What makes boards great?

Oct 30th

The board of a newly-merged business recently put ‘getting to know each other better’ at the top of their wish list for the board. Given their huge strategic agenda and complex business challenges, enjoying a board dinner or two together could seem like fiddling while Rome burns.

In fact, knowing each other as people is the basis for respect between board members, and respect is the basis of trust.  Members of the board had instinctively latched on to the thing that would make most difference to them adding real value to the business. 

Research shows that the conventional wisdom about what makes

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This article is filed under: leadership

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Make the most of your critical friends

Oct 16th

It’s good for SMEs to have a number of people that they can call upon for advice and support.

A few years ago when my business was reviewing its proposition and strategy, we realised that we’d reach that age – and growth stage – when we would benefit from a fresh, external perspective: people who were prepared to challenge our thinking and help us reach sound market-based decisions.

We didn’t want people who would take on the formal roles of non-executives (though that of course may be the best option for many larger businesses); we needed people with whom we could share

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This article is filed under: leadership, strategy process

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Attracting talent without big bonuses

Sep 15th

‘Bonuses are back’ makes a good headline, but it disguises the reality of life in the city. Research by ORC Guideline shows that job losses in financial services represent about eight percent of the total UK unemployment figure of 2.4 million.

The old model is broken – for the time being, at least. Many people will look in vain for their big bonus. Without it, people accustomed to this powerful financial incentive for high performance may drift, or become actively disengaged.  This is a serious business risk when a demotivated fund manager could mean the loss of millions in minutes.

Here are

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This article is filed under: talent management

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The MacLeod Review on employee engagement

Sep 01st

I read with interest the recent MacLeod Review by David Macleod and Nita Clarke, in essence a comprehensive review of employee engagement.  At its heart is a simple, clear message.  Employee engagement does make a difference to business performance.  There’s nothing new in that, but the real import of the review is the rallying cry it makes for a national awareness campaign. 

That provides a real test for Peter Mandelson’s Department for Business Innovation & Skills.  Can government show the imagination and skill to galvanise employers and leaders to put the lessons of this report to work?  For if employee engagement

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This article is filed under: , leadership, strategy process