May 5, 2016

Leaders be fair, or else

Leaders need to be fair and equitable, and they also have to be seen as such. Why? Because lack of fairness stirs up powerful feelings like anger and disgust. When leaders don’t deliver they are reviled by their followers. It’s all downhill from there. The science backs up my claims. They are demonstrated in a series of experiments with capuchin monkeys, a highly social and cooperative primate species. Sarah Brosnan from Georgia State University tested how the monkeys responded when they were treated unfairly. Picture this scene during one of the experiments. Two monkeys sit in adjacent enclosures with a […]
March 29, 2016

What are we doing for new leaders?

In my various work roles over the years I have met, taught and coached numerous people in first-level leadership positions. They came from all industries and sectors, and included retail and hospitality managers, head teachers, nurse unit managers, senior scientists, lawyers and accountants, and team leaders of various kinds. When they start out, new leaders are almost always excited, enthusiastic and full of hope. They think they have made it. But within a few weeks, reality sets in. People don’t do what you want them to do just because you ask them. They don’t care about your great plans as […]
March 23, 2016

The leadership waiting game

Where are the leaders in our society? There should be many thousands out there. After all, we have numerous captains of industry, government officials, politicians, local community representatives and sporting heroes to play the part. As I see it, our country should be awash with impressive leaders. But I keep missing them. Take a moment to bring the names or faces of some public figures to mind. For now, just consider well-known people who hold an appointed position, like a CEO or government minister. How many would you describe as a ‘good leader’? I have to admit I am struggling […]
January 18, 2016

Leadership stories that inspire

Like me, you have many stories about special times or moments when leadership made all the difference. The best stories are truly inspiring – they show what can be done in difficult circumstances and often by people not much different from ourselves. They encourage us to lift our sights or try for something we thought was out of reach. Or to dig deeper and be less timid or reticent in what we strive for. In reflecting on my favourite stories, I was a little surprised that none was about people prominent in business or government. There are no politicians, board […]
November 18, 2015

Jim Collins still has the right stuff

What are the makings of great leaders? Do they arrive in the world, nearly packaged, waiting for their moment to shine? Or do they grow steadily, building in confidence and capability, as they make their way through life? My long experience as an organisational psychologist tells me it’s the latter. Our top leaders are made, not born that way. They may show early promise, but need the right mix of opportunity, hard work and coaching to go the full distance. Their talent needs nurturing or we risk losing it. As Jim Collins, co-author of ‘Built to Last’, discovered, organisations that […]