Leadership Secrets 2

Christine took a 4 year sabbatical from our team during which time she completed her PHD in Leadership. We’re excited to have Christine back on our team and have asked her to highlight some of the insights she gained during the last four years of studying, researching and writing about leadership as part of her PhD.Christine

“It’s a great pleasure to be back working with people who are actively learning, growing and practising a different way of being as leaders. The leadership conversation is never far from my thinking and I gladly share some of my insights with you.

In the beginning of the study, I was curious about how some leaders were able to hold a high degree of social awareness placing human concerns as primary in their decision-making. I looked at the current state of leader development in relationship to the complex challenges that leaders currently face. I questioned the models that portray leadership as hierarchical, formulaic and simplistic. I also believed that there exists a great hunger for leadership and a need to radically dissect our traditional perspectives in light of sweeping changes globally in philosophies, values and narratives.

When I talked with leaders about their exceptional moments in leading, they told me stories of leadership from the standpoint of relationships and interconnections rather than steps or techniques. From this perspective, I began to understand leaders and leadership not as disembodied traits, characteristics and steps, but rather as social practices embedded in webs of significance and interdependency, where story-telling is the primary means of relating with others. It became apparent to me that leaders grow through experience rather than by experience and that they create lives of meaning for themselves and others through the sharing and integration of their stories.

How did this experience change me as a leader? I came to understand leadership not as something that resides within me as an individual leader but rather as the product of people coming together to share their stories, understandings and experiences. My research findings underscored the idea of leadership as a possibility that exists between people rather than a set of traits or behaviours belonging to an individual. It arises from our collective thinking when we ask the hard questions about who we are and how we want to be with others. Leadership, as a property of the group, emerges when we respectfully listen to others, when we speculate with others about the kind of world we want to create and when we see the future as one of infinite possibilities. It is much more about who we are being rather than what we are doing.

Today, messages fly at us fast and furious; underscoring that what is rewarded is the quick completion of tasks from the check-list, not the slow contemplation required for a deep understanding of what we most need.

In complex times, merely handing down the tried and true will not help us to be more ethical and moral leaders; for that, we need others, contemplation, practice and epiphany.  Use the comment box below to respond to Christine’s insights.



Leadership Secrets

Woman-with-finger-on-lipsLeadership Secrets

This leadership secret is probably best illustrated outside of work.

How do you know that your parent, spouse, child or partner loves you?  What makes you sure and what causes you to doubt?

There are many visible things they do and say that point to their love for you.  But that’s not what really clinches the deal. While they are an important part of your knowing, they are far from being the whole picture.

What really makes you sure of their love is the way in which all the visible indicators are matched by the invisible aspects that accompany and validate the visible.  Pause and think about that…unless the invisible validates the visible we instinctively know we’re being duped.

The same is true in leadership.

As a leader, you can say and do all the ‘right’ things, but unless the invisible components are there to validate your words and actions, they will backfire.

The invisible components cannot be layered on to who we are, we cannot manufacture them.  They are a result of who we are at our core and how we view the world and others.  You cannot fake genuine interest – the invisible gives you away.  You cannot force yourself to be genuinely interested – the invisible will give it away.  If you want your team, your boss or your peers to believe you are genuinely interested you are going to have to pause, open your mind and find what genuinely interests you about them.

The same is true for all the other invisible pillars of leadership such as commitment, belief in someone and trust.  The unexpected advantage of ‘finding instead of faking’ interest, belief or commitment is that the hard work of ‘creating connection’, ‘building open communication’ and ‘giving tough feedback’ all becomes much easier.

Try it and share your insights with us.

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Vulnerable Organisations – Successful Organisations

If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.  Brené Brown is a researcher who believed this to be true.  In our organisations we have many who hold to this maxim.  Yet, on another level, we know that there are things – messy, intangible things – that can’t be measured…at least not quantitatively.

Brené Brown started her research looking for a way to measure the intangible and ended up with some surprising insights that are not only useful to life, but also to organisational life.

Watch this video and let me know what your thoughts are.


Below are a few questions to stimulate your thinking:

As a leader, be vulnerable with yourself and think honestly about the following:

How worthy am I of love and respect?

Am I enough?

How true does the following statement appear to me “Vulnerability is the birthplace of strength and creativity.  Denying vulnerability is to deny creativity”?

What would change in how I manage/lead my team if I see us as ‘enough’?

What is our global footprint?

Bigger than us

How much thought do you give to the footprint you leave?  In your family?  Your circle of friends?  Your business or place of work?  Your community?  What about the footprint we leave as an organisation or a country?

Ease of global travel and trade, whether actual travel by car or plane or virtual (via the internet), means that we leave our footprint in places we may not even think about.  If the world is becoming a virtual village then what we see as our community must include all the places we connect with.  Including connections that feel more removed like those through the internet and the places we trade with (directly or indirectly).

With nearly half the world’s population living on less that $2.50per day , something’s not right.

High poverty levels in one sector of society, spell disaster for the whole country.  With country boundaries blurring (eg the bit-coin) none of us can escape the impact of poverty in other parts of the globe.  It is no longer something that only affects the developing world.  The developing world is part of our world and what happens their will impact all of us, increasingly  over time.

% of population living on less than $2 per day.

File:Percentage population living on less than $2 per day 2009.png

Your Footprint IS bigger than you

15% of all our fees goes directly towards uplifting those in the poorest countries in our global village.  Just in this last year we spent over $16,000 towards economic empowerment.

This means that, through the simple act of choosing us as a service provider, all our clients have helped uplift those in the poorest sectors of our global market.

Here’s how:

Freedom through Business Development

Our aim is to end economic oppression, one family at a time, by giving families the means with which to participate in capitalist economies.  As business leaders, we understand the advantage we have is largely due to an accident of our birth and desire to create opportunity for potential business leaders born to less fortunate circumstances.  To this end over $7,000 of the $16,000 has gone directly as loans to individuals to aid them in starting or expanding their businesses.  ($5,100 to Hope International and $2,066 in loans through Kiva.org)

Since Oct 2014 (when we started our CSR program) we have lent $4,557 through Kiva and we keep re-lending it as it is paid back. It has now financed $13,825 of loans to 64 small businesses in 18 countries.  If you’d like to contribute directly to it, please join our lending team or choose someone to lend to on your own.

Freedom through Education

South Africa has some of the worlds best schools, yet the majority of its schools are under staffed and under resourced.

In 2013 we began supporting the leadership development of school principals in disadvantaged schools in South Africa.  We are partnering with an amazing organisation Partners for Possibility (PfP) who are equipping the school principals to turn the schools around. They partner with a business leader who mentors them and develop skills to engage their staff, the parents and the local business community.

They are taught leadership, community engagement, strategy and so much more.  Some of their schools are seeing their pass rate go up from 30% to over 80%.  I have seen their work first hand and am seriously impressed.  It costs $6,000 to sponsor a school and in 2013, we set aside $8,900 of our CSR towards it.

There is a direct correlation between quality education and ability to partake in a capitalist economy.  We see this as investing in the next generation’s ability to participate in the economy.


A big thank-you to all our clients who have contributed, through our fees and, perhaps without realizing it, directly to improving the quality of life of hundreds of people around the globe.  Not through once-off hand-outs, but by helping us fund their access to the tools for self-improvement.  Thank-you for helping us leave a positive footprint.

Something Fun

Below is a very entertaining and interesting video on how the world has moved in 200 years. I would be very interested in what thoughts it provokes in you.  Please use the comment field to leave your thoughts.

Interesting Facts

  • Hope International is “home grown in BC” and was recommended to me by a friend who works in a similar field in South Africa.
  • 100% of money loaned through Kiva.org is used to fund the loan.  They rely on donations and volunteers around the globe to keep running.
  • PfP started 4 years ago with one school and now has over 150 schools with more on the waiting list – driven mostly by the impact both business and principles are seeing.

Thought Provoking TED Talk

I found this TED TALK on The Danger of a Single Story very thought provoking.
I wonder what single stories we live with that
 give us myopic vision in our lives and our organisations?