The LeadershipZone for better leadership

Get into the leadershipzone – practical tools and ideas you can use to improve your effectiveness as a leader or manager


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The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Leadership – Boss Taming part 2

On Sunday I posted part one of this blog – ‘Good Boss, Co-Create’ – now we begin to get into a little less comfortable area of leadership – so let’s see what we might do….

The Bad Boss – Check for Checks and Balances

I’ve got those Spaghetti Westerns cowboys in mind.  A rough figure in a poncho.  Sombrero tipped off his head, half-covering the rifle slung across his back.  Liable to pull it into action at any minute.  Or fire off from one of the pistols at his hips.cowboy

This is a sharp-shooting leader of my acquaintance.  Oh, and he’s a she.  Busy building her own career with the politicos and external stakeholders, she’s driving her posse from one poorly-thought-through project to another.  Continue reading

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Leadership deserves a medal

The question people most often ask me is how we continue to build our business, even during challenging economic times.  I think the answer is in continuous learning from what’s going well – and, of course, changing what doesn’t; attention to detail, preparing for unexpected challenges and using and adapting new technologies.  I wrote last week about some of the lessons leaders can take from elite athletes – because I think leadership deserves a medal.  Of course, not everything athletes do is transferable to the world of leadership, but these practical techniques are a good starting place.

Rowers & their coaches at Dorney Lake, 2012

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Leadership & Boss Taming How four easy listening steps benefit you

When I worked in a global banking and insurance organisation, someone told me I had the Cassandra Complex.  No, not the European electro-goth-industrial band, but the inability to convince others of the validity of my arguments; named after a character in Greek mythology.  So in the last 15 years I’ve spent a lot of time working out how to best influence others.  If I had a penny for everyone who said “my boss just doesn’t listen” I’d be writing this from my yacht moored by the Mediterranean Sea.   The phrase that would also pay for the penthouse in the harbour is “my boss talks too much.”  These phrases create frustration as they dis-empower us and reduce our emotional resilience.  So how can you benefit from listening to your boss and be more successful at boss taming, as well as improve your leadership? Continue reading


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The LeadershipZone: the four zones

The complex challenges of work, home, family and social pressures, mean that leadership is more important than ever.  As we go into the new year, I thought it might be helpful to describe the four zones and key elements within them at length, exploring what it means to be a resilient, emotionally-intelligent leader.

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Leadership Fundamentals: leadership principles….

I spent a three days last week with a small group of leaders from around the UK, exploring their vision, values and authenticity and developing their coaching skills.  It was refreshing and energising to have some interesting, sometimes challenging, debates.  Those kinds of conversation help me look at my fundamental approach to leadership with new eyes.

does leadership require an inner compass?

So here’s my view of 21st century leadership principles:

  • Leadership is self-awareness: find a meaningful reason or inspiration for what you do, including exploring & living your personal and professional values
  • Leadership is influence, not control: seek to influence and work as a partner
  • Leadership is relationship: connect with others in an emotionally intelligent way and deliver on the commitments you make to others
  • Leadership is showing respect: acknowledge and trust the skills, talents and strengths that your colleagues bring, including the people who work in the wider team
  • Leadership is presence: be fully present and focused on what you’re doing, when you’re doing it (no sitting at the computer during 1-1s etc.)
  • Leadership is delivering on the Vision: see, describe and communicate your vision; be prepared for ‘course correction’ and motivate your people to get to the goal; don’t allow yourself to be side-tracked from what’s important and be ready to refocus others

Leadership Communications are different from other types of communications; leaders need to communicate through relationship – and they need to earn the right to communicate in that way.  Communications activities include 1-1 and 1-many relationships, in person and through the full range of communications channels available to you

Finally, here are some leadership myths:

  • Being the leader is not the same as having ‘power’, leadership is about stepping up, taking responsibility and being accountable
  • We can’t ‘manage’ people in the same way we manage systems and processes – we lead them and they choose to follow – or not
  • It’s not always about having to be ‘right’, nor is it about getting everyone to agree with you, or like you
  • Forget the old adage that ‘communications is a 2-way activity’ – it’s a myth.  Communications is a factorial (many to many) activity; once a message is out, people choose how they react to it and who they share it with – and that’s never been easier in a digital age.

    gossip or 'networking'?

Yes, it’s easy to sit here and pontificate about leadership and harder to apply our vision and values amongst the demands of the workplace – but perhaps that sums up what authentic leadership is all about: having a strong foundation that sees us through the challenges. 

I wish you a good week – before you go, please take a minute to share your thoughts with this week’s leadership poll.


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Leadership fundamentals: success in a nutshell

When I start working with new clients, I sometimes get the opportunity for an initial burst of intensive coaching.  We talk through issues in sometimes microscopic detail each week and then move to fortnightly or monthly sessions.  The shifts that occur and the results that can happen by working this way are sometimes sensational, sometimes smooth yet powerful.

I’m fascinated by what it takes to transform organisations and the role of coaching in transformative learning – where we shift from problem/solution thinking to behaviours that have far-reaching impacts.

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Leadership fundamentals: let’s talk about stress

Leaders are under stress as never before: the complexities of their role, the competing demands on their time, the need both to deliver and be seen to deliver, all point to rising levels of stress and tension.  Good leadership means succeeding in the face of challenges; our decision-making and prioritising require clarity, not confusion.  Higher levels of resilience and practical coping mechanisms are vital to our life balance.

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