Archive for February, 2015

ABC of Leadership is Not so Easy

A, B , C ……………… Awareness, Behaviours and Consciousness!  These are the fundamentals for excellent leadership.

You can forget strategy, vision, mission, organisation and culture if you don’t have the “ABC of Leadership”, because all those plans, process and structures will never actually come to full fruition.

AWARENESS: For you to be effective as a leader you need to become as aware as you possibly can: of yourself, of the people around you, and of the changing world. Connecting with yourself and understanding the impact you have on the people and world around you might fundamentally change how you lead.

BEHAVIOURS:  Only the best leaders effectively manage their emotions so that their actions and communications are freed from their default instincts and learned prejudices. Mastering this aspect of leadership will have the greatest sustainable impact on your own productivity and of those around you.

CONSCIOUSNESS: We all have deeply held values and the vast majority have good values. The problem is many leaders keep those values hidden, out of sight, or left at the office door. Excellent leaders bring their values to full consciousness so they are a touchstone for everything they do and every decision they make. This enables organisations to go  beyond ethical compliance towards embedding ethical behaviour into  the organisational culture.


John Knights, Chairman LeaderShape

Tanzania – Chairpersons’ Leadership Retreat

OVER 20 LEADERS OF some of Tanzania’s most important organisations, including banks, publicly owned corporations, permanent secretaries and private companies, participated in a 2-day “Chairpersons’ Leadership Retreat.” The Institute of Directors in Tanzania (IoDT) invited John Knights, Global Chairman of LeaderShape, as the main facilitator.

Participants explored the Transpersonal leadership development journey as a way to produce Radical Ethically Authentic Leaders that operate for the benefit of their organisations and country, rather than their ego.

Tanzania is fast becoming the hub for East Africa and is one of the most stable and high growth (7%) countries in the continent with huge potential from developing its natural resources.  Said Kambi, CEO of IoDT, explains: “Leadership is a key issue in Tanzania if the country is to realise its potential. It is recognised by the major influencers in the country as the most important issue for the country. To integrate with the global community on equal terms, to further encourage international trade and investment and to manage its own growth, the leaders of Tanzanian companies must be world class and even more importantly they must develop the next generation of leaders. After a very successful initial event we look forward to continue working with LeaderShape to help make this a reality”.

As John Knights adds: “Leadership excellence needed for the 21st Century is not developed at top business schools where they will learn to administer, strategise and manage (all very important, but not leadership). Leadership is about learning to use the right behaviours and bring values to full consciousness in the workplace. It’s about understanding which leadership style to use in different circumstances and how these will impact the culture and performance of the organisation. Most importantly,  we must choose leaders of the future who are ethical and live their values.”

Said Kambi concluded: “The overwhelming view of the Chairpersons at the retreat was that this approach was exactly what Tanzania needs and would speed up the development of excellent leaders in the country”.


The natural resources available in Tanzania include oil & gas, gold, diamonds, uranium and copper. Tanzania also has huge potential in tourism with iconic locations as Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti and Zanzibar as its foundation. Currently a low income country, it has the potential to become a middle income country within the next 10 to 15 years. Any visitor will see that the Tanzanians are welcoming people; they have a unifying national language and harmony between Christians and Muslims.  Women seem to have more potential to develop a career than in most other low income countries. It is a country where support will benefit of the whole of Africa and the world.

Of course, things are not perfect. As everywhere there are scandals and areas of corruption created by ego-based leadership but at least they are being discussed openly in parliament and shown live on TV. A post-colonial history of an authoritarian single party that is moving towards a genuine multi-party system creates hurdles that need to be overcome. Next year’s presidential election will be the most open yet with opposition parties continuing to mature. Tanzanians expect the election to be peaceful, fairly open and honest.

The global community is now recognising Tanzania as a key African destination for investment with the Chinese and South Koreans taking a lead, closely followed by the USA and the EU. Investment from the global oil & gas industry is now giving a kick start and the government has a substantial infrastructure investment programme. There are also major international aid programmes throughout the country. Development of a strong local private sector will be key to sustainable progress.

The UK is still the largest single investor country in Tanzania and, due to its common heritage and membership in the Commonwealth, foundations are there for maintaining this position. Unfortunately, it seems that for many UK companies Tanzania has not yet been identified for potential investment. For example, many European and Middle Eastern airlines have direct flights to the capital Dar es Salaam, but there are none from the UK. And although the UKTI (United Kingdom Trade & Industry arm of the government) see Tanzania as a priority country, especially because of the Oil & Gas industry, it has increasingly damaging visa regulations for Commonwealth business people and students.

Our relationship

LeaderShape Global’s partner in East Africa is Noesi Strategic Institute, a premier training organisation. Its CEO, Murtaza Versi says: “We chose LeaderShape because they offer the most advanced and suitable programmes for developing leaders in the 21st century that focus on improving behaviours, operating ethically and living beyond the ego. Traditional leadership programmes are no longer appropriate and do not embed the required change. Our shared goal with LeaderShape is to train local senior executives as facilitators, so our ability to develop leaders in a cost-effective way will be significantly increased,  blending the use of local and international experts”.

Where in an organisation should leadership exist? Reflections from the Windsor Leadership Dialogue

The Windsor Leadership Dialogue (WLD) is an annual two day event that was started in 2001. It takes place at St George’s House in the grounds of Windsor Castle and is for invited senior leaders ** from a broad range of organisations to discuss the leadership needed to sustain a successful future. The whole event is run under Chatham House rules – .

I have had the honour to be one of the  custodians of the event for the last two years which is facilitated in a very collaborative format. The broad theme is “All Change for Leadership” and at this year’s event (26-27th January 2015) we focused on “Collaborative Leadership in a World of Increasing Complexity”.

On reflection I cannot get my mind away from one very important paradigm that even progressive leaders struggle with. It is “where” leadership should  exist in the organisation. Should it be at the top as in a more traditional hierarchical organisations (including the “uniformed organisation”), should it be shared, should it be inclusive, should it be delegated? How do you avoid abdication? And what kinds of decisions should be made by whom (singular or plural) and when?

And once you have decided this then there is the question of how does everyone develop the awareness, behaviours and consciousness to operate in the chosen way. Should there be proactive development of all or some individuals and/or teams, or do we assume by having the appropriate systems and working together within them, everyone will operate in the correct way?

And, are we really talking about devolved leadership or just devolved decision-making – or a bit of both – to the place where the accumulated knowledge is. And has the “leadership” role changed from being “knowing everything and telling people what to do” (ie making decisions based on their own knowledge) to being one of creating the right environment (climate and culture) and enabling the development of people to function most effectively in that environment? And finally,  in this new world how do we choose those senior leaders?

I believe the solution lies in the people within the organisation- but there is still an important role for the top leader(s). It is not rocket science but it is not easy to implement either because it is counter-intuitive (ie. not natural thinking for our conscious brain).

I strongly believe Leaders need to learn and embed the 6 leadership styles identified by Goleman and Boyatzis in their book of 2002 “Primal Leadership” (the New Leaders in the UK) and know when to use them. Most leaders use one style all the time because it is their natural brain default and well developed leaders may use two or at a stretch, three. To learn and use the other four or five styles requires developing new behaviours. LeaderShape’s experience and research with hundreds of senior leaders is that learning and implementing just three granular behaviours can have a major impact on their performance and ability to engage all staff in the leadership of the organisation. The most common granular behaviour that has the single biggest impact is to proactively and authentically “demonstrate an awareness of how others are feeling”.

This then enables leaders to establish a climate and culture that frees everyone in the organisation to mobilise and maximise their individual and combined performance. When at its best, the leader’s responsibility is primarily to provide the right environment and to develop the people in the organisation while still being ready to take an active role in decision-making.

That requires courage and a whole range of other “self determination” values .

You can read much more about the journey of leadership development that can create these outcomes in  “Leadership Assessment for Talent Development”, published by Kogan Page

** If you would like to be considered for invitation please contact me at

John Knights, Chairman, LeaderShape