Parables of Leadership: Late Bob

Bob was a leader. He had strong values which had been developed over a few years of leadership. He shared his views about many subjects often and easily with people around him  (reflecting his values of openness and authenticity) but he  mostly shared his views about other members of the organisation (a high value on honest confrontation) and how they always resisted change and so would never grow personally or corporately (optimism wasn’t a key value for Bob).

Bob was in a team and Bob was always late. He never arrived on time for anything the team organised, and sometimes he didn’t arrive at all.

The team wanted to share Bob’s values but they also wanted him to appreciate theirs. They valued courtesy, restraint, consideration and kindness. But especially they valued their own time, and respecting other through promptness was one of their key values.

Bob’s carelessness over respecting their values made them sometimes wonder about Bob’s ….

Running on a Heartbeat … or a Programme?

Does anyone else worry in their organisation that the dominance of programmes may hide the absence of a heartbeat?\r\n\r\nProgrammes are imposed from the outside; heartbeats come from – the heart.\r\n\r\nProgrammes bring rotas; heartbeats bring rhythm.\r\n\r\nProgrammes can be avoided; if heartbeats are avoided …

The Work Project – Effective Transformation of the Workplace

About two years ago I floated the idea of a seminar/group coaching session focused on transforming the workplace. It’s where many of us spend most of our time and where we feel most in need of support, affirmation and assistance.\r\n\r\nLast year the idea was developed in more detail when I was thinking about a mission strategy for Bradley Stoke, an area on the Bristol North Fringe. It was one of five big ideas to help the church become more outward looking and more effective in improving the day to day lives of ordinary working people. The broader context can be seen in the book Mapping Mission Opportunities.\r\n\r\nThis year it’s moved on again. Working with Rob Hook of the Business CoPilot, we have zeroed in on some practical details. We have sent out a survey to 50 people we know in the workplace to ask what are the the real issues they face. Being practically minded we are also asking what is the ideal format for coaching/teaching/talking about our individual performance in the workplace so that each of in turn may transform the workplace for every person around us.\r\n\r\nThe summary sent out with our survey is here The Work Project – effective transformation of the workplace or click on the image below. It can also be found at our website\r\n\r\nIf you are in work and we haven’t asked for your opinion, and you would like to complete our questionnaire, please email me at or Rob at\r\n\r\n

Give time to creative thinking

Paul Olley said:\r\n\r\n“I made an international reputation by thinking twice each week,”\r\n\r\nHe outlined the components of successful generative (creative) thinking as these\r\n


  1. Time – give time to think
  2. \r\n

  3. Think – once or twice a week or month – not once a year
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  5. Space – find space to think: go to a hotel for 2 hours each week
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  7. Relax – it helps
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  9. Topic – don’t pick a low grade or minor issue. Pick a big one. “if we had to do ‘X’ how would we do it?”
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  11. Be focused – but not on anything. Be focused on opportunities and solutions. The object is not just to think but to decide
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  13. Tools – find tools that work for you , well known ones perhaps, such as from Tony Buzan or Edward de Bono.
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  15. Strategrams – draw strategic diagrams to summarise your thinking
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  17. Intuition – use intuition rather than hard data
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\r\nPS if you didn’t link to the Edward de Bono video above … do it here! Edward de Bono

Common Sense – the missing ingredient in leadership?

An interview with Theo Paphitis in The Market magazine is instructive:\r\n\r\n‘His consistent ability to read a business, identify key issues, and then take successful action surely must rely on a methodology or set of processes?\r\n\r\n”No, not at all,” he rebuffs. “I’m not a financial engineer … I’m a people person. I never go into a company saying “I’m going to turn this around”.\r\n\r\n”Instead I listen to the people who know the business best – the staff. Not the board or the senior management, but the people on the shop floor, at the sharp end. Normally they know all the reasons why a business is struggling. My talent is listening to people around me and then implementing the right changes in detail. At’s about the application of common sense.\r\n\r\n”I see everyday in my business life, that common sense isn’t very common.”\r\n\r\nIt makes sense …. the flip side of Front Line Staff\r\n\r\n 

The 7 Principles of Public Life

I’m trying to work out whether to loan some pieces of my sculpture to a gallery and in the course of my research I read the webpage on the Board of Trustees at the…

I’m trying to work out whether to loan out some pieces of my sculpture to a gallery and in the course of my research I read the webpage on the Board of Trustees at the Tate. The text outlines the purpose of the board and the role of an individual board member.\r\n\r\nIt’s strangely heart warming to see a public body spell out clearly that a trustee cannot use their position for personal gain, nor ‘seek to use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests’.\r\n\r\nBut best of all was the list of ‘Seven Principles of Public Life’ drawn up by the Nolan Committee at the end of their short report in May 1995. They are worth serious reflection.\r\n\r\nThe seven principles are:\r\n\r\nSelflessness\r\n\r\nHolders of the public office should take decisions solely in line with the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.\r\n\r\nIntegrity\r\n\r\nHolders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.\r\n\r\nObjectivity\r\n\r\nIn carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.\r\n\r\nAccountability\r\n\r\nHolders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.\r\n\r\nOpenness\r\n\r\nHolders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands it.\r\n\r\nHonesty\r\n\r\nHolders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in any way that protects the public interest.\r\n\r\nLeadership\r\n\r\nHolders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Growing in Leadership

One of my leadership highlights this year was listening in to a telephone Q&A session between Dr Henry Cloud (also see Cloud-Townsend Resources) and Dan Rockwell of Leadership Freak Blog The call was planned a few days ahead of time and a several hundred people mainly from across the US signed on a few minutes before the session started one Wednesday afternoon ready to gain some wisdom.\r\n\r\nAfter some early introductions Henry Cloud was asked this:\r\n\r\n“If you were able to give the young Henry Cloud some practical advice on leading effectively what would it be?”\r\n\r\nThe answer was this:\r\n\r\n”There’s no magic formula that guarantees you will lead effectively, but there is a magic formula to help you get there. Work on filling up these four columns:\r\n\r\n1 get some significant relationships to model and correct and inspire and mentor. Seek out people to fill this first column\r\n\r\n2 you’ve got to know what you’re doing. In terms of whatever your endeavour is, you’ve got to do your homework – reading, workshops, training etc. It’s inconceivable that a surgeon would never read a book.\r\n\r\n3 get experiences. Again, you don’t want to be operated on by a surgeon who’s never done it. So volunteer, get on teams, get on projects, scare yourself, hold on by the bootstraps. You’re not going to figure it out unless you get on and do it, and no-one else will get you there apart from … you.\r\n\r\n4 figure out a structure for your development. Make time to develop. Make a structure. It doesn’t just happen. You don’t throw a maths book at a kid and hope they learn maths. In other words, nothing happens without planning”\r\n\r\nFood for thought …\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWritten in the top floor cafe of John Lewis, The Mall, Cribbs Causeway