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Even if the results suggest you are doing well, a great leader never rests on his laurels. Seeking 360-degree feedback from trusted friends, colleagues and mentors is essential if you are to improve and develop.

Words: Stephen Fletcher, The Leaders Club

It’s lonely at the top, isn’t it? People looking to you, at you and for you. If everything is going well then it’s wonderful; you can almost taste it. But if not, you are on your own. So, who do you turn to when times are tough? Who do you ask for advice when you’re not sure of the right direction to go in and who will be your sounding board when you need encouragement and support for a decision you’ve already made?

As a leader, you need to show authority and determination and you may be reluctant to admit to weaknesses or uncertainty, especially when you are working hard to prove yourself worthy in a new role. However, it is essential that you also understand that you can make better decisions and be a better leader by drawing on the expertise and experience of others. The continuous learning journey that we are all on relies upon the strength of our support networks and our ability to use them.

Despite this, we don’t always know where to turn or how to make the most of feedback and advice. Many of us will avoid turning to colleagues or superiors for answers, even if they are the best equipped to provide them, for fear of showing ignorance or inexperience. Instead, it is often friends and family who are the first port of call. But what do they actually know and how relevant is their experience?


It’s important to remember when looking for help on a problem or for an opinion on a solution that anyone can give advice; it won’t always be sensible, sincere or applicable in your situation and you don’t have to follow it. Strength of character is needed to seek advice and support, but also to decide whether to follow or ignore it…

Read the whole article at the League Managers Association, 10 Mar 2016

Strategies for Holding People Accountable: Helping People Take Ownership of Their Work

Have you ever heard the story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody? It’s called “That’s not my Job,” and it goes like this:

“There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.”

No one in this story took responsibility for the job. As a result, they accomplished nothing. Similar attitudes are common in companies that lack a culture of accountability.

In this article, we’ll explain what holding people accountable means, and suggest strategies you can use to encourage them to take ownership of their work.

What Does “Holding People Accountable” Mean?

Accountability boils down to one thing: responsibility.

When you hold people accountable, you make sure that they achieve the goals you have agreed, to the standards and deadlines you have set.

However, some managers aren’t comfortable with this, and give their team members extra chances to perform, so they don’t have to discipline them. They worry that if they put pressure on people to meet their targets, they may complain or even quit their jobs. Also, some leaders are more concerned about being liked than about team performance.

These managers may give poor performers’ work to stronger team members, to avoid confronting them, or they simply hope that, over time, everyone’s performance will improve.

But “burying your head in the sand” like this is not the solution. If you let poor performance slide, it can set a dangerous precedent. Your under-achievers might believe that you aren’t serious about deadlines and expectations, and your high-performers see your failure to deal with the issue and may decide they don’t need to work so hard.

The key to embracing accountability is to change your thinking from a negative, blame-focused view to a positive, performance-boosting perspective. Holding individuals accountable can improve their results, as well as those of your team.

The Pros and Cons of Accountability

When you hold your people accountable, it benefits them, your team, and your organization as a whole.

If you can encourage them to take responsibility and hit their targets, they will likely feel more engaged with their work, which can lead to higher morale and job satisfaction, and better performance. However, if you confuse “accountability” with “control,” it can lead to them feeling micromanaged .

Holding people to account doesn’t mean that you hover over them while they are trying to work. If you become a “control freak,” you can make them feel claustrophobic, resentful and unproductive. They can begin to doubt their own abilities, and their performance can suffer as a result.

Be consistent when you set performance standards and when you measure them. Some team members may feel that they are being singled out for unfair treatment if you handle them differently to their colleagues.

Strategies for Holding People Accountable

Here are some ways you can improve accountability among your team members:

  1. Start With Yourself

Teams work hard for leaders they admire, so set a good example. If you have a positive attitude and a high level of professionalism, your people will respect you and put in extra effort. In short, if you expect your team members to perform to your expectations, you must be a good role model for them.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

Don’t assume that your people will instinctively know what you expect of them in terms of quality, deadlines or results. So, if you have specific requirements, explain them. For example, if you expect someone to check in with you at certain times, let them know.

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the better the results are likely to be. Just be careful not to lapse into micromanagement.

As part of this, make sure that your team members have a copy of their job description , and review their duties with them regularly, perhaps in one-to-ones or quarterly reviews.

  1. Establish Performance Standards

Be specific about how you intend to measure performance. That way, you can hold your team members accountable for any gaps between their progress and their goals.

Where this is appropriate, a great way to plan for success is to draw up well-defined SMART goals . These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. They give people a clear target, and give you a concrete way to assess their results.

  1. Obtain Commitment

Unless you can get people to commit to meeting the goals you set, they may fall short. Explain to them how their role ties in with the mission of your organization . You can also describe how their success could lead to greater recognition, financial rewards, or opportunities for growth.

Then, before they get started, ask your team members to agree verbally or, even better, in writing to the schedule, process and targets.

  1. Follow up, Then Follow up Again

Many people fall short of their goals because of poor follow-up. Set regular meetings to catch up on progress, actions and issues to encourage your team members to stay on track. If they know that you expect a weekly progress report, they’ll be less likely to procrastinate and more likely to hit their targets.

You can also “keep tabs” on people informally outside of any scheduled meetings. And give feedback when appropriate, as establishing a culture where feedback is the norm will make people more receptive to it.

  1. Assess Performance

Your team members should be on track with your clear game plan and regular check-ins. If they are, praise them for their diligence. If they are not, you need to step in and find out why.

If someone is falling behind, ask them to brainstorm ways that they can get back on track, working with them if necessary. However, encourage them to come up with their own ideas and take appropriate action on their own initiative.

Also, review instructions to make sure they’re clear, and, where appropriate, provide support or training to resolve any issues

If, despite your best efforts, they still don’t achieve their goals, you need to show them, and the rest of your team, that you are serious about improving performance. But do so in a way that stresses it is an opportunity for personal growth, and is not intended as a punishment.

Part of this may involve drawing up a performance agreement . These are written, signed plans that set reasonable expectations, create milestones, and establish consequences for failure. Prepare these agreements in collaboration with your team members, so you can avoid future doubts or misunderstandings.

If there is still no improvement despite your support and coaching, you may need to resort to disciplinary measures. Consult with your HR department on this.


Tip 1:

If people are not going to hit key goals, they need to have told you about this well in advance, so you can take appropriate action to bring the project back on course or manage expectations yourself. Make sure that your people know you expect this, and take appropriate action if they let you down!

Tip 2:

It’s old advice, but it’s good advice: if people are having problems or are falling behind, expect them to come to you with possible solutions, rather than just with the problems themselves. Expect them to have thought about how to solve the problems before they present them to you.

Tip 3:

Some people may subconsciously seek to avoid being held accountable by being vague about their commitments or by throwing up a “smokescreen” of complexity around what they are doing. Take the time to cut through this, agree clear SMART goals with them, and make sure you follow up on these goals.

Key Points

Holding your team members accountable means that you require them to answer for their actions. By doing so, you encourage them to improve their performance.

Accountability is built on clear expectations. Without this foundation, you won’t be able to monitor their progress or evaluate their results.

Have regular conversations with your team members about their progress and performance. Praise them for good results and coach them when they fall short. If their performance does not improve, address this with meaningful consequences.

Apply This to Your Life

As a manager, accountability starts with you. Hold yourself accountable for your team’s performance. If you want to create a culture of positive accountability, check in frequently with them, even when things are going well.

Good communication can help build a trusting relationship, and your team members won’t want to disappoint you. You can also show that you are committed to accountability by writing and sharing a list of things that they can expect from you. That way, they’ll see that you “walk the talk.”



C/o www.mindtools.com/


By Elizabeth Eyre and the Mind Tools Team


From Battleship to Boardroom

“In few professions is there the focus on leadership that there is in the military or the recognition that you have to teach people how to lead right from the very start”
Admiral Sir Trevor Soar

Recent research has uncovered just how damaging poor leadership can be for those on the receiving end – many leave their jobs prematurely because of bad leaders while others turn down opportunities of work. Clearly, this cannot happen in the military; the consequences of a demoralised Army or Navy, lacking in direction and short on discipline would be catastrophic, eroding our national security and putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

After a 37-year career in the Navy, in which he held a diverse range of leadership positions with often broad remits, Sir Trevor Soar made it to the very top, becoming Admiral and Commander-in Chief.

Having re-entered civilian life, he is now chairman of two SMEs, a founding co-director of his own strategic consultancy, founding Director of The True Leader Company and chairman of an invitation-only networking organisation, the Leaders Club. Here, he sheds light on the contrasting approaches to leadership development in the military and civilian worlds and why much of what he sees in organisations today would not pass muster.


Let’s go right back to the beginning of your incredibly successful career in the Navy. Where did your leadership journey start?

I first enrolled at the Britannia Royal Naval College in 1975, enthusiastic, immature, and probably more than a little naïve. Leadership was a core part of my training from day one and it continued to be a central theme throughout my career. Leadership potential was also a key part of the selection process.

I joined the submarine service, working my way through the different posts, changing jobs every two years in order to gain a broad experience and all the time being assessed for your leadership. I was then selected for the Submarine Command Qualifying Course, an incredibly tough, make-or-break course that was given the name Perisher on account of its high fail rate.

When I passed it was a springboard to various positions of command, my first being at the age of 29 of a diesel powered submarine. It was equivalent of being the CEO of an SME, but in the run up to that position I had gained the relevant skills and qualifications, experience and, importantly, leadership training, so I felt ready. I then commanded a nuclear powered submarine, a large frigate and then HMS INVINCIBLE, the Flagship of the Royal Navy. Beyond these I had a number of strategic and cross-Defence roles in the Ministry of defence and in procurement and support.

Clearly there’s a stark contrast between the attitudes to leadership training in military and civilian sectors

In few professions is there the focus on leadership that there is in the military or the recognition that you have to teach people how to lead right from the very start. It is something that should be learned and developed, not simply bolted onto existing skills.

In most businesses, people are recruited or developed based only on their functional competency, background and experience in a particular role. They just end up in a leadership positions by default, having reached a certain stage of their careers. There’s a natural assumption that anyone can lead.

For example, I’ve done some work with Consultants in a hospital trust. They spend their whole careers focusing on becoming great doctors and then they reach this lofty position and suddenly they’re expected to be leaders and managers, but they’ve had no training. It’s almost like being thrown the keys to a car and told to drive, oh and, by the way, in five month’s time we’ll assess how you’re doing.

Part of the reason I set up my consultancy, True Leader, was that I saw how functional competence was often the main criteria for selecting leaders rather than any leadership skills or potential. In the military, leadership is engrained from day one and you’re constantly being trained, assessed and refreshed. It means that when you do get into your first leadership position you are already reasonably comfortable with how to apply leadership.

Given this tendency towards leadership by default, what problems do you see and what is ‘true leadership’?

True is what good leadership feels like to the people being led. It’s important to remember that leadership is a mindset and it is about people and how you interact with and develop them. Unfortunately, much of the leadership we see today is either passive, which means it is populist, avoiding controversy or conflict, accepting behaviour without challenging it, and always taking the easy path rather than taking difficult decisions. Alternately, people experience false leadership, where the leader rules by dominance and uses a power base to control the team members, stifling their creativity and creating a fear culture. I believe we can identify either of these traits and shift the emphasis to true leadership, working with people to reap the benefits of truly motivated employees. This results in the thread of leadership being woven through the fabric of the organisation.

True leadership involves clarity of direction, recognition and development of people, the development of team unity and leaders who set a positive example and are role models to their people. If you make sure everyone can do his or her job independently, it enables you to take a helicopter view of what is going on. The final benefit of true leadership is a positive approach to managing risk. Many organisations are actually risk adverse, leading to predictable or incremental changes and strategies with mediocre expectations.

What have you learned about good and bad talent management?

Developing talent from within the organisation is essential, but people often make the mistake of focusing on a few individuals who appear to be talented and then grooming them to do a particular job. Talent management is about more than just succession planning. You need to find the people with potential in your organisation and encourage others to look for them, because you may not always have direct exposure to them. Then you have to give them opportunities to develop a whole range of skills, including their leadership skills, and provide experience along the way. You end up with a talent pool in your organisation that you can draw from to drive the business forward.

Diversity is also absolutely key if you want to have a competitive edge. When I sit on Boards, I see the other Board members and non-executive directors and everyone is very similar, but their roles really are to provide different sets of eyes. The problem is that people tend to recruit people in their own mould. There’s always a risk when leaders and organisations become too comfortable. They should always be challenging you, pushing the boundaries and encouraging debate and that comes more easily with diversity. Diversity brings the range of skills and perspectives that an organisation needs to move forward, to change and grow.

You’re chairman of the Leader’s Club. What made you want to get involved?
Leadership can be a very lonely position and it isn’t always easy to confide in others or find answers to the challenges you’re facing; it is difficult to turn to your subordinates as they might see it as a weakness. The Leaders Club is an invitation-only club where leaders can socialise, network and exchange ideas in an informal environment, with the focus on improving leadership. Our members come from all walks of life and include Bishops, military men like myself, business leaders at all levels, and now LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan. It is incredibly valuable for leaders to be able to share their problems and experiences and how they dealt with them under the Chatham House rule. We want to help one another and use our expertise and experience to inspire the leaders of the future.


Interview with Admiral Sir Trevor Soar. May 2015

Thinking clearly under pressure – Deloitte Academy

Thinking clearly under pressure – 4th March, 2015 – Deloitte Academy

26 fortunate attendees heard Mike Carson and Chris Recchia discuss different perspectives on “Thinking Clearly Under Pressure” and leadership across the Premier League, the Armed Forces and Industry.

Mike Carson – author of ‘The Manager – Inside the Minds of Football’s Leaders’ and Partner at Aberkyn

Imagine that every time your team fails to meet its objective, it’s headline news with odds on how long before you lose your job. Imagine that every tactical decision is subjected to the scrutiny of 40, 50, 60 or even 70 thousand people and those same people come into your place of work and make strong protests for you to be removed from your job. And imagine having to deal with a prima donna workforce with eye watering remuneration packages that dwarf your own. That’s the life of a successful football manager and, while it’s often very well rewarded, the pressure is almost impossible to imagine. And yet, in the middle of all of this, it produces managers who may well be among the best leaders in the world.

Mike Carson interviewed more than 30 top football managers (including Alex Ferguson, Walter Smith, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho) about how they deal with the pressure and still come out as winners.

Through his interviews, Mike identified 3 key characteristics that were common themes across these managers (all equally applicable in most leadership situations). They are:

  1. It’s all about people
  2. Showing humility appropriately is crucial
  3. Many successful managers are ‘unconsciously skilled’ (they do what they do instinctively, not through training).

In addition, there were 3 leadership skills that he identified that made them successful in their leadership roles:

  • The art of one on one. There are 2 elements to this – empathy and steel. Empathy in dealing appropriately with individual players and steel in the ability to take unpopular decisions and stick with them until it’s categorically proven that a different approach is needed. Mike found that successful managers were world class at one of these but also good at the other.
  • Use of three leadership styles (Command/Leadership/Management). Command is used in a crisis but is short term only. Leadership is used for a step into the unknown but it’s important to be inclusive if there’s a strong and influential sub-group to consult. Management applies where there is no crisis due to the application of process. The key is to strike the balance between them.
  • Sustained Leadership. This is about building for the long term through succession planning. Liverpool Football Club enjoyed sustained, planned success over a long period during the Shankly/Paisley/Dalglish era. Manchester United had sustained success for a long time under Alex Ferguson but it only lasted until he retired. The key for sustained leadership is to build something greater than you.

Chris Recchia – Partner, Deloitte and lead for the Deloitte Military Transition and Talent Programme
Deloitte launched the Deloitte Military Transition and Talent Programme (DMTTP) in 2012. The programme aims to support members of the Armed Forces to transition into a commercial career. Since 2012, over 700 people have attended ‘Insight into Professional Services’ events.
Servicemen and women are trained to deal with the pressures that their jobs entail. But what happens when their military career comes to an end? If one of your key skills is to handle high pressure, sometimes life or death, situations, how do you transition back into the ‘real’ world?. And how do you merge people coming from a highly disciplined environment with those where the mindset and discipline are somewhat different?

Chris identified three key elements important for former military personnel who have successfully made the transition. Ex-servicemen and women need to show humility when entering a new work environment, learn to adapt to a new environment (rather than necessarily look to change it) and learn to articulate the value they can bring to organisations outside the military (the issue of identifying transferable skills is a key one for anyone changing careers) . This is what Deloitte’s programme is designed to teach and promote and Chris showed an excellent video of former military personnel who have been helped by the Deloitte approach.

Leadership and Collaboration : The Dangers of Silo Working

Leaders at all levels in organisations know the difficulties of achieving truly effective cross-business collaboration. Where boundaries between individuals and teams become too rigid a lack of joined up thinking and working can result – otherwise known as ‘silo working’. Of course, silos can be helpful, such as grouping specialists into learning communities, focusing people on results and providing a map of who does what and where. However, where cooperation and collaboration is needed and there are barriers to achieving this, the cost to the organisation can be very high.
There are many ways in use today to increase collaboration in organisations, yet somehow they don’t always succeed, become sustainable or inform the learning of others who inevitably share the same fate. There are numerous examples in organisations and in the public domain of breakdowns that occur within and between organisations and the cost this can bring about.

In my book research I came across the example of an Operations Director in a banking organisation who was resistant to the change programme initiated by a new CEO. He focused on controlling and protecting his own area, an attitude that pervaded the whole of his division leading to a lack of empathy with other departments and teams. Decision-making between his division and the bank branches was adversely affected so that too much money was held in branch for too long. Millions of pounds sat there not earning any interest.

In a recent high profile case Chris Patton, former Chairman of the BBC Trust, blamed silo working at the BBC as one of the reasons for the editorial crises that damaged the organisation’s reputation – a view subsequently confirmed in The Pollard Report.

With economic, social and environmental challenges and ever new technology breaking down traditional boundaries – collaboration has moved up every organisations agenda. Everywhere we turn today partnership working is required both within and between organisations in the commercial, public and voluntary sectors. It’s a key theme of reform in the NHS and the Civil Service. There are multi-agency approaches such as in aid work and the criminal justice system and an increasing number of strategic alliances between commercial organisations. Yet the old problems of silo working remain. As one Board Director who contributed to the research said: “In many companies silos haven’t changed, yet everything else has. Why not this?”

So what are the collaboration challenges that seem so hard to resolve? Some of my findings were:

1. Our natural tendency towards silo working. People get into comfort zones of contact and prefer to retain control over their work. The complexity of organisations can reinforce this and in a difficult and ambiguous business environment there is always potential for misunderstanding and unproductive conflict. People generally find the management of difference difficult and defensive behaviours lead to rigidity and sometimes breakdown in relationships. Where this involves senior leaders whole departments can follow and develop negative and polarised perceptions of each other.

2. Problems of identity and purpose. In a complex organisation system experiencing constant change achieving a shared purpose and identity can be difficult. Take for example the combined private/public company or those making the transition to private. At the level of personal and team identity it can create a lot of confusion. This lack of clarity appears in some cases to lead to increased silo working as different identities and values clash. Without identification at team and organisation levels, identity defaults to the lowest level – the sub-group, clique or individual. No surprise that leadership development has been so high up the agenda.

3. The lack of a strategic relationship agenda. The risk in relationships to an organisations effectiveness is not given the attention it deserves alongside other aspects of business planning and delivery.

4. Patterns of behaviour that repeat in organisations. There are invisible influences in complex and interconnected systems, silo working being one of them, which can become part of the wider culture.

What this points towards is the need to constantly put effort and energy into developing relationships that work. Without this focus relationships can drift and serious business consequences emerge – a lack of shared learning and innovation, delays in getting work done, unproductive conflict, stress and significant reputational and financial costs due to programme failures.

In complex interconnected organisations leaders need to have broad systems awareness and thinking, understand and recognise the importance of interdependencies and be proactive in developing relationships that work. Research by Bill Torbert and Associates shows that only a small percentage of managers demonstrate this more holistic and integrative frame of reference, with the majority occupying what they term the ‘expert’ and ‘achiever’ frames of reference . They can sometimes focus too much on their own functions, e.g. the sales figures, than on relationships across the organisation.

Leaders need to be proactive and visible in examining their own working relationships and taking action to improve them where they can. They need to have a keen eye on relationships in their team and with others inside and outside of the organisation. They also need to be able to have a dialogue around relationships with colleagues in the rest of the organisation, particularly for critical outcomes and initiatives. With an understanding of where the risks are, appropriate support can be provided and action taken where necessary. To sustain collaborative working relationships, relationship management needs to be a strategic agenda item.

David Willcock, Director, Liberating Potential Ltd
Author of:
Collaborating for Results: Silo Working and Relationships that Work

Collaborating for Results

Read a sample chapter online here

35% discount for TLC members only, access by using code G15JGH35 and visiting David’s book page: http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409464297

i The Andrew Marr Show Interview with Chris Patton, 2012: 6, The Pollard Report, 2012: 39—40, 185
ii Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership, Bill Torbert and Associates, Berret-Koehler 2004.

The Leadership of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. We know that the stereotype of the leader is ‘Tall, Handsome, Young, Fit, charismatic.’ But reality is a very different picture.

Take Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for example, a small, wizened, religious lady beloved by so many who is known as an inspiration and someone who people followed, but surely she’s not a LEADER?

Then you start to look at what a leader DOES, not what they look like and, on further investigation, you see something special.

So, if a Leader creates a culture where people can ‘see the vision and have a path towards it’, where they have a ‘unity of purpose’, where each person is engaged through recognition, empowerment and development and where the leader provides a good example and a role model for others to follow, then this is the code that should be used to judge whether or not our perception is the reality.

Mother Teresa started with nothing but Faith and a Vision – the vision was to help the poor of Calcutta. She translated this into a series of ‘strategic priorities’ – a list of who needed help most – from the poor, the sick, the lepers, children etc. The Sisters who helped her also had clear regimes – their daily routine, their work – even what they ate. She insisted that, to prevent ‘over-donation’ of time that everyone’s own family had to be taken care of before they helped out at the charity.

She herself took a room over the kitchen, sparsely furnished in up to 45 degree heat. She ate only lentils and food that the poor would have access to, she slept for 5 hours a day (at the age of 90!), and travelled anywhere, without grumbling. She was fearless in challenging the Pope, politicians and celebrities. She was impartial about religion, not parochial. When in Calcutta she cleaned the toilets in the Khaligat – the house of the dying.

Her mission spread throughout the world to over 2,500 sisters in many countries. She won a Nobel Prize and insisted that the money for the banquet was given to the poor as well as the value of the prize.

In short, Mother Teresa was a LEADER, and possibly the most shining example of any that I have studied – she only looked like a frail old lady. Inside she was the epitome of the leader we all aspire to.

In our world we tend to confuse Leadership with ‘STATUS’ – and many of our so-called leaders would fail any real test of their ability. Mother Teresa showed the true qualities of a leader. It’s also the case that we couldn’t be expected to live up to her impossible standards, however just a little humility goes a long way when you’re a leader…

Thoughts by Nigel Allfrey
Director, The Leaders CLub
Director, The Submarine Leadership Company

Operational v Strategic Leadership

Sitting in front of my computer on a cold, wet Monday I am trying to write my first ever Blog but what should the subject be? I am undertaking a course at The Windsor Leadership Trust titled ‘Developing Strategic Leaders’ but what, I ask myself, is a strategic leader and how should they be developed? So I decided to consider these questions.

It is generally accepted that there are three, and sometimes four, levels of leadership; tactical or supervisory level, operational or group level and strategic level with perhaps the fourth being visionary or grand strategic. For this article I will concentrate on the operational to the strategic levels.

Operational leadership is often about leading a number of teams as a group, focussing on business processes and resource management, the introduction and management of change and developing strong internal partnerships. So an operational leader is most often looking inwards at the organisation to deliver the vision and mission of their boss, the strategic leader.

While strategic leadership is about leading large organisations, focussing on stakeholders, understanding the customer’s needs and the competitive landscape, inspiring organisation-wide change as well as setting and living the culture of the organisation; to a large extent looking outwards.

The next thing to consider is that these levels vary in terms of responsibilities and perception depending on the size and type of organisation being considered. For example, a large retail company may require store managers to be operating at the tactical level as viewed from Head Office, at the operational level as viewed from the regional director and at the strategic from the perspective of the shop floor. The Commanding Officer of a warship will be working at the strategic level when viewed by the sailors i.e. looking outwards at what the ship has to do, how it is perceived and shaping expectations of those looking in; at the operational level when considered from the Flotilla Commander who has a number of ships under command and expects the Captain to be running his ship efficiently and effectively and finally at the tactical level when considered from the Battlegroup Commanders perspective in that the ship is having a tactical effect when considered from the strategic mission viewpoint. This is why, in the military, one is encouraged to think two levels up from your own perspective when considering various courses of action so you take into account the effect your decisions and efforts might have on the ‘strategic’ effect being sought.

So how does an individual move from operational to strategic leadership? I would therefore contend that a leader will move between the levels depending on whom they are conversing with, what concerns they are considering and what effect they are trying to achieve and therefore this is a subset of ‘Situational Leadership’ which a leader may use. I would of course accept that the balance of levels will change as an individual move up an organisation and takes on greater roles and responsibilities.



Jake is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, an Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute, has a certificate on company direction from the Institute of Directors and is an Honorary Professor in Leadership with the University of Plymouth.

Jake Moores lives with his wife and two sons in Dartmouth.  His interests include tasting fine wines, watching rugby, playing cricket, golf, squash and bridge.

Leadership in the new working environment

In the summer members of the Leaders Club were fortunate to spend an evening with Raja Saggi at the unique and impressive Google Headquarters in London.

We asked Raja, a Founding Member of the Leaders Club to get out his crystal ball to predict how he saw the next 5 years from his own personal observations, and what trends and changes he foresaw to help us ordinary mortals to plan for the future.  Raja has been Head of SMB Marketing position at Google for over 3 years working on AdWords and other Google products with UK & Irish SMEs through partnerships and online/offline channels. His team also manages flagship programs such as Getting British Business Online (GBBO), Think and Google Engage.

After a fascinating lecture and discussion during the question session the leadership impact of both outsourcing and teams working away from the office was raised.  The fundamental question of “how do you lead diverse teams or individuals who will quite often be working virtually, away from the office and potentially in another country?”

We all know how important “human contact” can be but if you are leading a group of people working remotely how do you communicate and connect? How do you inspire them or motivate them for the Unity of purpose required to deliver overall?
How do you ensure you are seen to be strategic and making the right timely decisions?

How do you give recognition to their contribution and how do you develop and empower them appropriately?

How do you set an example and act as a role model?
The Leaders Club will develop this debate and I look forward to your contributions and thoughts on an issue which is already here and if Raja is right with his crystal ball gazing, is something we need to actively think through and develop.

Sir Trevor Soar is Chairman of The Leaders Club  And is also a Director of TRUE Leader

Why The Leaders Club?

Why do we so many businesses pay lip service to training and development? Not true? Well why then when times get tough it is the first thing to be canned from the corporate budget?  “They can learn on the job”. “Chuck them in at the deep end”. “It will toughen them up”.  All the excuses I have heard in 30 years of running a training and development business.  All inevitable and predictable responses – so what to do about it?

In 2008/9 the ceiling fell in for training – the infamous banking crash or credit crunch.  Everything ground to a halt.  But this time was different from any previous mini recession.  This was cataclysmic. Budgets vanished overnight as the concentration was keeping financial heads above water.

But then the idea grew.  Never was the need actually greater to pool experience and knowledge.  To define, dissect and display leadership.  There was a never ending pool of knowledge and experience to be tapped and also a ‘next’ generation to be encouraged and helped.

Who could I get to test the idea?  Liverpool John Moores University as a starter. Vice Chancellor Michael Brown and Chairman of Governors, Sir Malcolm Thornton are old friends so the perfect people to ask. But ask what?

The idea was to get together leaders of businesses large and small, private and public, covering commerce and industry, the services, the military, academia, the faiths and the 3rd sector.  What a rich and varied tapestry of people, all with knowledge and experience but all facing similar problems.  How about calling it “Bringing Great Minds Together”? But how do you then provide an environment where people could be frank and honest about their problems, issues and challenges?  The Chatham House rule would be beneficial – “what is said within the room stays within the room”.  The next thing was to aim high and identify key people within organisations.  It needn’t be the CEO; it might well be the HR Director struggling to look at developing people on ever shrinking budgets but with more pressure than ever in identifying who’s who in succession planning terms.

LJMU were very supportive of the idea and through them it was possible to identify senior sponsors and supporters of the university who they felt fitted the bill to invite to an inaugural event.  From all those years in training and development I had come across people I really admired within the ‘business’. People, who often I may have been unsuccessful in selling to but also people whose life experience and path to their current position was rich, varied and really interesting. I was keen to involve those in charge of training officers in the 4 branches of the military – Royal Navy, The Army, Royal Air Force and the Royal Marines.  In each case the commanding officers of each of the key establishments (Britannia Royal Naval College, Sandhurst Royal Military College, RAF Cranwell and Lympstone. All gave the venture their enthusiastic backing. So as 2009 was ending we knew we had something special.
What happened next?  That’s in the next blog


Steve Fletcher:  Founder of The Leaders Club; life-long networker; steam-train enthusiast;  JP; Fellow RSA,

Culture and Leadership

I have spent 25 years with over 7,000 people in rooms in 25 countries around the globe introducing and motivating people towards an approach to leadership that unlocks the potential of people in an organisation and removes the barriers to development. Like all good approaches to leadership, it’s based on what helps people to achieve at their highest level. It’s also centred on humans. What we, the human species actually need to feel motivated.

In the 24,000 hours standing in front of all of those people there have been many challenges, so here’s one of them.

It’s a show-stopper. You suggest something that sounds innocuous – for example, “let’s agree to start the meeting at 0900 – can everyone commit to being on time?”

‘We’ll try to be there’ comes the dreaded reply. ‘But what you don’t understand is that in our culture we are mostly late for meetings…..’

To begin with this fooled me. It’s a great tactic – if you claim that your behaviour is as a result of your culture – either business, religious or social, it becomes taboo for anyone to try to change that behaviour.

There is a challenge to this which works so well. It just sounds like this….

“Culture……. Or behaviour?”

I would not demand that a Muslim eat pork, a vegan eat meat or someone from Pepsico drink Coke ( or vice versa other than in a market research capacity!). However is being late for meetings really part of a culture?

The other beautiful example is where someone is complaining that the worst behaviour in a meeting comes from the more senior members of the group (a frequent and very sad indictment of the arrogance of seniority). “Nigel, you don’t understand. In our culture we always respect our elders and superiors”. Again the stance is ‘back off- you have no right to challenge this’.

So my response is: ‘Ok, that’s fine, however where in your culture does it say that you should disrespect your youngers and subordinates?’

There is often a long, slightly puzzled silence, and then the normal reaction is ‘Ah!’ – nothing else, and it’s a significant ‘Ah!’.

We can bring this ‘tactic’ closer to home.

“I’ve been doing this job now for 25 years, don’t expect me to change…..”

“I don’t DO email……”

“In this company we have never had senior managers in open-plan offices”

A great response is what I call the £1,000 rule. ‘If I gave you £1,000 if you made it, would you be there on time?’.

By the way this also works with recalcitrant teenagers at home who find many reasons why they just didn’t have time to tidy their room/ feed the cat/clear the table. The good news is that the amount ‘on offer’ can be reduced – £10 will generally do!

Because great leadership happens at home too.


Nigel Allfrey is a leadership enthusiast, a facilitator and people development professional and a  Director of The Leaders Club.