Leadership Works 2019 Wrap Up Meetings

Meetings. What should be done about them?


They are the most common of all business activities, yet also one of the most troubling.

There’s hardly an organisation we know who does not wish to improve the quality of their meetings.

It’s a real source of pain.

Why are they so troubling and what should be done about it?

Our first post in early 2020 will tackle this question.

Also in the New Year

  1. Launch of a new programme – Tracking Success.
  • We are excited to launch a new programme in 2020. It’s designed for your next team offsite or large company conference.
  • Tracking Success will inject energy and a fascinating new metaphor into your way of thinking.
  • Watch the short video to find out more.

  1. We’ll be traveling to Dallas in March to participate in Patrick Lencioni’s annual UNCONFERENCE.
  • It’s a unique event that celebrates the importance of Organisational Health.
  • Patrick Lencioni will talk on what motivates leaders to become CEOs. Are they leading with the right motive? For the reward? Or the responsibility it’s intended to be?

Meetings LeadershipWorks 2019 Into 2020

  • And then the piece I’m most excited about.

Southwest Airlines – one of the healthiest companies in America.

The Chief Learning Officer, Elizabeth Bryant and other SWA executives will talk about how they have sustained the culture and heart of Southwest Airlines, over so many years.

There will be much to learn and we will write about all of it. Please stay tuned.

Finally, in case you missed it, our most-read article in 2019 was The Power of Relationships.

It’s about an unusual friendship between two people, Alex and Renias. Their story is the inspiration behind our new programme, Tracking Success.  Click here.

Thank you for your support this year.

It’s highly valued. We wish you a wonderful holiday and great blessings over the festive season.

Best wishes,


Leadership Works November Who is the most important person in your organisation

Who is the most important person in your organisation?

The Team Leader is at the frontline of organisational culture.

The macro-culture gets set at the top. This is important but there are limitations. The problem is that even with the best intent, executives are distanced from most people’s actual daily working experiences.

The micro-culture is what’s key.

This is the team you work in. The 6 to 10 people you spend the most time with every day. It’s here, in the micro-culture, on the watch of the Team Leader where the culture gets realised.

The Team Leader’s actions, motives and personal energy makes a huge difference to how much people care about their place of work.

This is a big responsibility.

It’s why the Team Leader is arguably the most important person in your organisation.

So what is the work of the Team Leader?

Ultimately it boils down to two things:

  1. Create conditions for people to perform.
  2. Make work a dignified experience.

Performance matters. It’s obvious. But it’s surprising how often this gets lost in the activity of a business. Results matter. This is how value gets created. Results establish the legitimacy of the team and the sustainability of the business.

But dignity matters too.

This shapes how people feel about their work and the organisation.

If people are your most important asset, as I hear many executives say, then dignity matters. Dignity is how people are treated. It allows for people to belong. To feel loyal and want to do more.

Together, performance and dignity ensure that not only the business grows but the person does too.

The Team Leader has a big role to play. One of their first actions is to create clarity.

Practically this means working with the team to create a Team Charter. A charter is a ‘contract’. It bonds people’s actions together and releases energy towards a common goal.

Keeping it simple and on a single page is important.

Answering the following 7 questions is key:

  1. Why do we exist as a team … our core purpose?
  2. What do we do?
  3. How will we behave?
  4. How will we succeed … 3 things we have to always get right?
  5. What is most important right now … our team’s single most important near term priority?
  6. Who must do what and by when?
  7. What will we measure?

A Charter clarifies the team’s reason for being. It provides focus and it avoids the morale-sapping effect of confusion and the inevitable frustration which follows.

Yet most teams have not answered these questions!

And they certainly are not written up on a single page and kept visible and accessible. Neither are they referred to in meetings and consulted weekly as the basis for making decisions and evaluating success.

This is a powerful tool in the hands of the Team Leader.

So too is working with each person to identify their strengths. This builds the spirit of the person and it grows trust. The best team leaders work very hard at this.

In a May 2019, HBR article, The Power of Hidden Teams, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall wrote:

“We discovered that strong agreement with two statements, ‘At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me’ and ‘I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work’, corresponds with a high level of trust in the team leader.

Trust in the Team Leader is the key to the performance of the team.

Creating clarity builds this trust.

So does helping each person on the team to get focussed and feel understood.

This is the essential work of the Team Leader. The best ones show up every day to do this … over and over again.

There’s more of course.

But it starts with performance and dignity on the frontline of your business.

We love hearing from you. Please comment below.

+ Do you agree that performance and dignity are vital?

+ Has your team answered the 7 questions?



The (simple) key to building a great organisational culture

Last time we wrote about culture.

It’s the least professionally managed part of any business activity. Yet culture, that which shapes and forms the way people think, feel and behave, is the real work.

The wise executive knows this and wants every person in the organisation to be fully engaged.

An engaged person demonstrates passion, initiative, imagination, and resilience.

People with these qualities serve customers better. They solve problems faster and design products quicker. They support each other in ways that unhealthy organisations can only dream about.

Cultures that nurture these qualities are precious.

Yet research tells us they are also rare.

What’s more common are people who are not 100% engaged – even at the most senior level.

More and more people are going through the motions. Sleepwalking through their daily working lives. Bringing less of themselves to the workplace every day. Disengaged.

What a cost! What a waste! What a missed opportunity!

And it’s not for a lack of trying either. Companies spend vast amounts of money to boost morale and improve their culture. That’s ok (to a point) but money spent on benefits and campaigns does not make the biggest difference.

What does?

What makes the biggest difference to whether people are more engaged? More productive, customer-focused, innovative and more likely to stay?

The answer lies with the team. The team you work in … the 6 to 10 people you interact with most every day.

The idea is simple.

Improve the team you work in and you will change how you think about your organisation.

When people around you are supportive and authentic it transforms your working experience. Trust, respect and accountability are the basis of teamwork. When people on your team behave in this way, morale improves. You have more to give and your feelings of belonging for the organisation change.

You’re even more likely to overlook many of the larger (and harder to solve) problems of the wider enterprise. Poor communication, silo thinking, negative internal competition to name a few.

It’s simple and it’s true.

As the team gets better so does the business. And the culture becomes healthier, stronger and more resilient.

This is the most powerful lever for improving employee engagement.

In conclusion – when you build a well-functioning team you are doing two very important things at the same time.

  • You are ensuring the business delivers on its goals. That’s a non-negotiable.
  • And you are improving every single person’s working experience. So vital for productivity and morale.

 So, where can your team improve?

To get you started, reflect on the 10 questions below.

  1. Do the members of your team trust and respect each other?
  2. Do team members speak up and share their opinions, even when they disagree?
  3. Does each member feel 100% committed to the team agenda?
  4. Does the team have a purpose and a primary goal that inspires and challenges?
  5. Do team members admit to mistakes, weaknesses and insufficient knowledge?
  6. Does your team come to decisions quickly? Does it avoid getting bogged down by over-analysis and consensus?
  7. When a decision gets made, does everyone support it?
  8. Do team members confront each other on behaviours that don’t serve the team agenda?
  9. Are your team meetings compelling and productive?
  10. Does your team accept the leader?

Next time we’ll talk about the leader.

If you’re the team leader you make a huge difference. Creating an environment of success is your ultimate responsibility. In the next post we will discuss how.

We love hearing from you. Please comment below.



Is Your Culture Getting The Attention It Deserves

Culture is a hot topic.

Every leader talks about it. But very few are successful at building one that is distinctive and long-lasting.

This is a problem. For most companies, the only real differentiator is the productivity of the people who work there.

Culture makes the biggest difference to productivity.

It’s the intangible that defines what people feel and how they behave. It’s what dictates how much of themselves people are willing to give.

Yet it’s the least understood and almost definitely the least professionally managed part of any business activity.

In most companies culture is left to develop by itself. And like a garden without a gardener it takes on its own shape and form.

This is risky.

Left to its own: you still have a culture. But it may not be the one that you want!

Hit Refresh Book Company Culture Organisational HealthThese thoughts were on my mind as I began reading Satya Nadella’s excellent book, Hit Refresh.

In 2014 he became only the 3rd CEO in Microsofts 40 year history. In the beginning, Microsoft was a speedboat. A lean competition machine that was at one time the world’s most valuable company.

Over time it lost its mojo. When Nadella took over many believe the company was sliding towards irrelevance.

Its competitors had gone mobile and were using the cloud for most of their software. Microsoft had failed in every new thing it tried.

Insiders described the culture as toxic. Fiefdoms and power struggles were the order of the day. Mastering the political game was the way to get ahead. The company had turned in upon itself and away from the customer.

Nadella had a massive turnaround on his hands. His job was to get this huge organisation of 120 000 people sprinting in the right direction.

Where did he start? Where would you start?

In Nadella’s words, “I put the company’s culture at the top of our agenda. We need to rediscover the soul of Microsoft, our reason for being. My primary job is to curate our culture so that 100 000 inspired minds – Microsoft employees – can better shape our future.”

He started by converting the intangible into future success for the company.

A new purpose andvision came into being.

To empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve moreand to thrive in a mobile and cloud-first world.

This challenged them to leap out of their comfort zone and to start winning in new areas. It led to a resurgence of innovation and new partnerships with old enemies.

Then they developed a clear connection between their mission and the culture. They sought to build a culture of leadership that encourages people to take risks and inspire innovation.

The growth mindset became an anchor.

Satya Nadella - Is Your Culture Getting The Attention You Deserve

As Nadella says; “we had to go from being know-it-alls to learn-it-alls. To not to have to put on an act of knowing everything, but to be curious and learn”.

They also got specific about what culture they wanted. To establish a growth-mindset in 3 distinct ways: To obsess about our customers, to actively seek diversity and inclusion and to act as 1 company.

And then the 3rd big anchor was Leadership – the right people on the bus at the top to lead the culture.

He built a team at the top of one mind on mission, strategy, and culture. A team whose actions declared what kind of behaviour was no longer required. Leaders who would model the change.

As they progressed they had to pay special attention to the middle managers.

This group went backwards initially.

As in every large organisation, the ‘middles’ are sandwiched between the top and the front line. They experience unique pressures that are often ignored or underappreciated. They required special tools and support to make the transition.

Fast-forward to today, 2019 and Microsoft is back!

They were a company frozen in time. Now they are leaders in the new era of artificially intelligent cloud computing. Some even describe them as a cooler company than Apple.

I found the story engrossing and fascinating.

Being intentional and resolute about your culture is not a nice to have.

Nor is it to be delegated or delayed. It must get deliberate attention.

The wise executive knows that culture – that which shapes and forms the way people think, feel and behave – is the real work in an organisation.

Satya Nadella knew this. He chose to harness the power of this intangible force when he started out as CEO. It has produced rich rewards.

What about your organisation? Are you being deliberate about your culture? Is it getting the attention it deserves?

We love hearing from you. Please comment below.