Leadership Blog

Leadership Comes from Every Corner

The potential for leadership lies in every corner, including two small towns taking action as a whole community[1].   This is a story, reported in the Guardian newspaper about two French towns that have shown social leadership by initiating a campaign to tackle rising obesity in their children.

Seek Leaders With Empathy

Leader Manager Exchange (LMX) theory says that the quality of relationships a leader builds is reflected in the performance of the team he or she leads and the business results they get.  So start building.

Leadership Under Fire

Those relying on leadership will have their say.  Should leaders listen?  The following comments are reported from investors who rely on the leadership team for results.  They commented at the recent Tesco AGM.

"Sir Lippy Leahy was paid millions for losing us billions."  A reference to the Fresh & Easy disaster in the US.

Charity Leadership Teams – Is Six the Magic Number?

We have always said that the ideal number for a senior team is five, plus or minus two.  A new third sector report, Building Outstanding Leadership Teams, has found that half a dozen is the optimum number for top managers.

Bigger is not better at the top of charities: the strongest leadership teams have an average of six members, at least half of whom are appointed from outside, according to a new report.

Vision Will No Longer Be an Option

If the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) gets its way, leaders will have to predict the future under a new governance code. They will have to advise boards to answer what appears to be an impossible question  - how long will your company will remain viable?

Directors will have to tell investors how long they think their company will remain viable under a new corporate governance code that could come in from October 2014.

One Big Task for Leaders of Boards

It was written recently (The Times, 4 June 2014) that Tesco’s shareholders are demanding the chief executive’s head due to consistent under performance relative to competitiors.

We have said before that there is one big task and one big risk over others that a chair and the board needs to get right - making sure the company has the right chief executive. In this case, it is not just the board but shareholders also who need to be convinced that they have got this right.

Strategic Planning is a Risk

Roger L. Martin of Harvard recently wrote of the “big lie of strategic planning”.  He says that everyone knows that strategy is important, but it can be scary in that it forces managers to confront a future they can only guess at.  Managers tend to want more certainty than this offers when called on to advise their board.

Choosing a strategy means making decisions that explicitly cut off other possibilities and options.  A manager may well fear that getting it wrong will have a personal impact on their standing.

Fancy a Dance?

Leadership is more of a dance than a dash

At Stellar we like the metaphor of a dance.  As Warren Bennis has reflected,

“[Leadership] brings to mind the idea of an energetic dance that binds the leader and followers, in which each side is fully present, active and able to shape the other”.

Context Requires Different Forms of Leadership

Non-executive directors (NEDs) have an independence that frees them up to provide a different form of leadership – one that is in between the chair and the chief executive.  NEDs can provide what can be a very effective balance of challenge and support in tricky situations.

The Strategy Tweet: Your Strategy Statement in 140 Characters

One of Roger Martin’s (Harvard) rules for avoiding common mistakes in strategy making, in fact his first rule, is “keep the strategy statement simple.”  Rather than a long, often vague document, the company’s strategy should summarise the chosen target customers and the value proposition in one page.

We would like to take the idea even further by asking you to summarise your strategy in no more than 140 characters. This statement must identify the target customer, the value proposition, and how the latter fits two requirements:

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