Archive Page 3

Discussion Topic: ‘Sod 70’: lifelong education and the highly experienced executive

Duncan EnrightLeaderShape Director, Duncan Enright,  Head of Healthcare Practice and Head of Publishing Practice, regularly hears concerns in his leadership development work about the demographics of the workplace.  LeaderShape works to unlock the potential of experienced workers – ensuring they continue to be an asset to their organisations. Although often perceived as a male problem, the density of women in the 50–59 age group causes particular issues and can, with the right leadership, have very satisfactory outcomes for teams and managers.

His blog is published here:

257839464_640“IT’S THE TALK OF HRDs: companies are failing to encourage employees over 50 to stay, train and develop within the business. In a recent survey of over 1400 managers, the Institute of Leadership and Management found they ‘scored workers over 50 at 46% for attributes such as keenness to learn, develop and progress’. This supposedly ‘unmotivated’ group could be the solution to the predicted problem, identified by Government, that 13.5 million jobs are likely to be created in the next year, yet only 7 million young people will enter the work force.

Sir Muir Gray, knighted for services to the NHS, understands this gap between the ’40-50 something’ worker and older colleagues; he calls for all involved to take control of any ‘limitations’ in his recent publication ‘Sod 70!’. When talking to the national press, Gray poses the questions: ‘What groups can we distinguish within this huge age range and how should we refer to them.. to us? The use of a single attribute is fraught with danger because people differ from one another in many more ways than they are similar’.

LeaderShape is a company built on the appreciating the value and emotional intelligence of all employees. LeaderShape faculty’s senior directors constantly seek to develop, either through additional experience or further qualifications within the workplace. Organisations that refocus on developing the emotional intelligence of leaders and employees will motivate everyone, including employees aged over 50. Unlocking the potential leadership qualities of staff helps everyone succeed.”

LeaderShape’s CEO, John Knights, comments :

“As a ‘closer to 70’ executive who is passionate about developing leaders for the future, the problem with many over-50s is that they have stopped learning and developing. When that happens they are no longer suitable for leadership positions. On the other hand 50+ executives who are interested in continuing development and open to learning can make the best transpersonal (beyond the ego) leaders because of their experience and level of human development.”

There is an identified need for employees over 50. Public advocates such as Muir Gray see their value and potential; organisations such as LeaderShape can help unlock the potential of the older employee and the older leader.

Coalition Leadership – 21st Century Collaborative Leadership

Finally it is election day. The British political system and hierarchy is still very 18/19th Century. It is amazing that in the 21st Century it remains so directive and adversarial. Likewise, the UK’s Civil Service holds back and resists change effectively. But things are changing, and coalition government may just be a vehicle that provides the change. A coalition is not sustainable and can not succeed on adversary!

And to give the Tories and Lib Dems credit for the 2010 – 2015 coalition I think they have worked pretty well together (the extremists of both parties have been kept at bay) and I would say much of the progress over these last five years has been as a result of a coalition that needed to follow a middle way.

Management Today has written a good article on Coalition Leadership listing and describing 5 tips to success:

  1. Relationships
  2. Prioritise
  3. Set “No-go” lines
  4. Engage the troops
  5. Look outward

In essence this requires moving from an adversarial culture to one of collaboration. This is much the same as the more advanced move in the commercial world from “competitive” to “collaborative” strategies, leadership and cultures.

Let’s hope the potential coalition parties of the next UK government have read the article.

John Knights



Transpersonal Leadership – what organisations need for the 21st Century

A summary of LeaderShape’s ground-breaking approach to the development of leaders

A lifelong journey that has distinct core elements linked in a unique way

Transpersonal leadership is about leadership excellence beyond the ego. Developing a future (vision, strategies and decisions) that is in the best interests of all the stakeholders connected to the organisation the leaders are responsible for.

A useful mantra to learn as a guide to development as a transpersonal leader is:

1 word:           Awareness

2 words:          Emotional Intelligence

3 words:          Understand your Brain

4 words:          Live beyond your ego

5 words:          Touchstone “for the greater good”

The basic problem about leadership is that our brains are designed to lead in an environment of stone-age man – one of crisis, danger and survival. This is not appropriate for leading an organisation in the 21st century where organisations and the people within them have moved beyond a primitive lifestyle. Our brain’s natural impulse in today’s times is for leaders to want to change everyone and everything else (ie. new structures, processes and training for the troops). It wants to retain control through a hierarchy. In a society that is changing at an ever increasing rate globally this is not effective or sustainable.

The only way we can lead effectively in a fast changing world is to learn better ways to produce high productivity in a sustainable way. It means letting go of authority and decision-making, and then delegating and trusting others – while still remaining responsible. To achieve this we must learn how to reconfigure our own neural networks in our brain. This might sound threatening but actually we do just this when we learn to swim, to ride a bike or drive a car.

The first we must change within ourselves are our behaviours. We must learn to become more consciously aware of ourselves and the people and the world around us so that we can understand what behaviours we need to incorporate to improve our own performance. This is about developing Emotional Intelligence. Then having decided which behaviours to change we must learn them as habits. Most leaders have one preferred style of leadership but to operate successfully in this more complex world we need to use six styles (each requiring different behaviours) and know when to use each (awareness).

Having achieved that, the next step is to understand how we can use these different leadership styles to develop the organisational culture we desire. We must learn to flex our leadership styles to balance the cultural parameters of power, structure, achievement and support, and ensure a “contract” of mutual expectation with every individual.

Having developed a high level of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership the leader is now ready to embark on developing their judgment and bringing their values to full consciousness. Good judgment, which is critical for excellent leadership, depends on five decision-making processes; rational, instinct, insight, intuition and ethical philosophy. In general, we humans are only trained to use the rational conscious process. Yet most of our real decision making uses the other four sub-conscious or unconscious processes. These inherently have bias and prejudice built-in, so for improved judgment it is really important to bring them to full consciousness and link them more clearly with the rational process.

As a leader we need to look at Values as two separate domains. First of all our Personal Conscience – who we are – and secondly our Self Determination – what we as leaders are going to do with “who we are”.

We all have an ethical philosophy though we may not have thought much about it or consciously use it in our decision making and as a leader. Yet this is the essence of Transpersonal Leadership. Bringing our values and ethics to life by bringing them to full consciousness and using them as a touchstone for everything we do is the final step.

This journey is not linear, is not easy, and has no end. But if you are driven by an ultimate desire to do what is best for humanity and the world – as well as yourself, you can achieve it.

John Knights, Chairman LeaderShape


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

The Arms Race in Journals Publishing Heats Up

Joe EI ALWAYS LOVE veteran author and publisher Joe Esposito’s thoughts. He is a witty and astute observer with the valuable eye of an experienced and passionate participant in research and scholarly publishing.

This year Joe has done a lot of work looking at society publishing, which is all well worth reading. The extent to which a professional or scientific society relies on publishing as a way of fulfilling its mission can vary greatly; some societies see their journals and books as the very core of their offering, whereas for others they are cash cows to support other member activity. Either way there are a bewildering range of options and new challenges thrown up by the digital shift. Commercial publishers have a lot to offer.

In this article Joe describes neatly what commercial publishers can and do offer societies (in addition to the obvious: sometimes enormous sums of money).

Looking at this from the publisher’s point of view, there are also untapped benefits (as well as the obvious financial return, “bulking up” and niche domination) from associating with societies. These include acquiring credibility, access to domain expertise, the creation or strengthening of communities or networks of authors, and perhaps strategic growth into new geographies and subject areas.

Of course there is also a very human side of this. Staff in publishing companies often come from academic backgrounds and look for the personal validation that comes from rubbing shoulders with society grandees. For a while I was, though a pretty humble physics grad, the publisher of the outstanding Landau and Lifshitz series of textbooks – The Course of Theoretical Physics. It makes me proud still, though all I did was keep them in print for a few years.

Club Elsevier, as mentioned at the end of Joe’s blog post, is much more fun when the disco floor is full of big-name society people and famous authors.

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