Tag Archives: "leadership"

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50% of leaders fail – what’s going wrong?

Jul 14th

A frightening statistic is that more than 50% of mergers fail. Perhaps a more frightening statistic, less widely discussed, is that 50% of leaders fail. Of course, it’s harder to measure leadership failure or success unless it’s tied directly to company performance, such as long term growth in shareholder value with Jack Welch and GE. Or to obvious failure, such as Jeff Skilling and Enron.



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



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



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



If you haven’t read this yet, you should

Apr 06th

How often do you read a business book and come away completely satisfied? Like a perfect five course meal with three wines.  In this case my metaphorical five course meal was in a restaurant that has been open since 1981 and I’ve never visited, so all the more surprise that it catered perfectly to my tastes which are not, as you may know, entirely mainstream…Enough of the analogy – I have just been through “Gary Yukl’s Leadership in Organizations (7th ed)”  published by Pearson.

Yukl has been researching and writing on leadership for 40 years and this textbook for business



Could something stunning happen if you freed your mind?

Feb 16th

Travelling to work the other day on the bus, I absent-mindedly reached for my iPod and looked at it.  Simple, minimalist and beautiful.  And a great example of what can happen if you question your constructs.

By construct I mean an assumption or web of assumptions that helps us make sense of our world.  Constructs help us organise our activities, and identify important things from the extraneous.  They can occur on multiple levels:  individual, organisational, business model, and industry.  Multiple constructs typically converge and form a ‘dominant logic’ for a company and for an industry.

Here’s one:  “Construction work is dangerous –


Leadership in times of uncertainty

Dec 20th

This paper is sparked by a dinner discussion, facilitated by Stanton Marris and hosted by Addleshaw Goddard in November 2010 with participants from a number of financial service businesses with the theme Have our leaders led us down the garden path and how do we get back up again?

A recent paper by Douglas Board † suggested that there had been a deafening silence about the role of leadership up to and during the crisis in financial institutions.  We wanted to test if a focus on leadership and leadership development had become irrelevant and we wanted to find out if leadership


Is leadership just high level stuff?

Nov 14th

“A mistake executives often make is thinking that being a leader and being a manager are the same thing. But while there are similarities, they are quite distinct.” Rhymer Rigby, The Financial Times, 12 November 2010.

You need to stay up on the balcony where you can see what’s happening on the dance floor, rather than being on the dance floor. Leading also has a far stronger political element than managing.  You need to deal with the emotional stuff as well. You have to tune into the mood of people and connect with them. Leaders are influencers and persuaders. It’s a