So you want to be a leader? Be an evangelist/enthusiast!


Develop the habit of being all about what you stand for, what others can believe in. The bad habit is to be the critic who has become cynical – and can only be evaluated by all the things you are against, dislike or believe worthless.

I would need a sociologist or behavioural physiologist to fully explain the phenomena – but closely related to “Bad News Sells” is the fact that crowds, groups, choose to pay attention to the cynic, the knocker over the evangelist, enthusiast. However, don’t be fooled by that attention – who and what they follow is rich, wholesome and creative when it is the evangelist, enthusiast.

We only need tune into twitter or the TV to find a deluge of folks purporting to lead but with nothing other than bile and negative intent for us to consume because it can be

  • entertaining in small doses,
  • readily available,
  • no doubt cheap
  • a quick road to ‘fame’ if you are shallow enough to buy it.

However, we also find hidden gems, little nuggets of the human spirit making a different choice, to stand up and be counted as being for something we can build or create together – how refreshing and energising is that?!

I talk of this in terms of habits and it is important to think of it thematically that way, since it’s easy to fall into this bad habit everyday, in every meeting or communication. There are tips and tricks, and I’m as sceptical as anyone when they stray toward the politically correct, such as ‘find and replace’ problem with opportunity for example – but that is not what I am talking about here. What I am talking about is an authentic belief in something or someplace that you describe again and again and again.

Good would be things you are going to create, transform, build or become. Bad would be things you would beat, destroy, marginalise.

bottom line – The cynic drags crowds to the bottom – The leader draws followers to the top

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What does ‘Trust’ mean?


Within the context of Leadership – trust means your actions are:

Predictable, dependable, & repeatable

Copyright (c) 2011 James Stanbridge Picture of Trust

A Picture of Trust

As I look back on my own career, the consistent complaint is that I “randomize” the team – what they are telling me here is that I am “unpredictable” and no matter how hard I try (and I do) to tell myself that constant unpredictability is really predictable, this has been a struggle and a challenge for me personally and one that I pay a lot of attention to. What works for me is to try to connect through my communications a predictable cluster of goals and methods. Caring about the same things week in week out.

If in January I stated the goal to be raising by 20pts service quality for the consumer – in March, July and September this must be my headline too. And I need to be authentic to sustain this effort. Picking service quality for the consumer would have been totally fake if it did not make my blood boil and rage when I see it drop or ignored.

There is a lot in common here with the themes on focus vs priority – and in parables of great leadership and that is: members of your constituency, your followers must be able to predict accurately your stance. You can’t hope to be everywhere and in every meeting – so you should expect and create opportunities for your leadership to become a thing others can put in their pocket and pull out when they need it – “Stanbridge would say… ” or “I was chatting to Stanbridge about blah and he believes…” . Do watch out for your own ego here – there is a real trap you get far to impressed with yourself here and I’ll write a post about how you need your circle of influence to help you ‘keep it real’

Dependable is a nuance of trust that is deeply important to you followers – when they see a broad email thread for example, they must be able to depend on you paying attention, diverting, burying or what ever action they depend on you to take. In order to achieve this you must regularly talk about what matters to you and as importantly – what does not. For example – I don’t chose to spend all day reading and replying to email, so I have to chose large swathes of email not to read or pay attention to. Most of my team know not to cc me on email if they want it acted on. Either you are having a dialogue with me or you are not.

Fanatics make surprisingly good leaders (well, not so surprising if you apply what I said above)

fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. Churchill

It is a good test to ask yourself

Do my team think I am a

  1. Good Leader?
  2. FANATICAL Leader?

if the answer is 2) then you will be able to spot that you are inspiring Missionaries and not Mercenaries (thanks to Martin Walker for that quote!)

I’m suggesting here that you can’t invest heavily enough in developing your authentic, led from within leadership. Go! start now

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how people and leaders embrace corporate change (or not)


change = opportunity; If you are not willing to fail, you won’t get very far.

All very easy to say but so much harder to do. I like to differentiate my blog as practical tools and coaching for leadership, so here are some thoughts on how people deal with change.

In my experience there is a 3 stage process that folks typically go through
1) can I simply ignore this?
2) who won, who lost?
3) what now (for me)?

1) in figuring out if this is something that can safely be ignored, the organization is viewed in hierarchy terms – did we shift the chairs on the deck of the Titanic? Are we addressing something fundamental and acknowledging a revolutionary change in direction? are we dressing up ‘status quo’ as change? At it’s most basic “so what?” needs an authentically compelling answer.

As leaders driving change – answer these questions with integrity, and perhaps revise your change plans accordingly! the default for all our staff is to find a way to safely ignore the change. Just because you sent email, held all-hands etc. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have communicated change – you merely broadcast it.

2) Who won? Who lost? I’ll leave it to qualified analysts to explain the Psychology but I know for sure this is the most vigorously debated around the water cooler and between the thought leaders in your teams. Don’t shy from this fact. Folks make accurate judgements about leaders who pretend a loser won. Thank someone for their hard work, dedication etc if that is true – but anything more is nauseating and will mark you down from potential followers perspective.

Mine for opinion here, you might find an opportunity to correct miss-perceptions or amplify correct assumptions. The bottom line here is that the decisions the organization makes are a clear indication of prevailing culture and intent. For better or worse, pay attention to that fact.

We are often too squeamish to call out the winners – yet, our tribes like to be on the winning side – I mean, who doesn’t? so set up your new leads or strategy guardians for immediate success by identifying their wins and successes in recent work and influence. Help establish their constituency.

3) What now? Critical question, but be prepared to answer “what’s in it for me?” at a micro level. Yes, as a leader you need to be able to talk at a macro level, say “share holder value” for example, but truly great leaders will personalise the message so that every single individual feels like they are on the vital mission of the corporation. Impossible to over invest in the importance of this last piece and it takes a lot of energy from the teams managing the change – but, if you can tell the story of “what’s in it for me?” at the most atomic – your changes will be compelling and sticky.

When you fail to properly tackle any of the above you invite folks to ignore the change you hoped to drive, worse, you reinforce their ability to do so with weak or low authenticity messages.

A more general observation here would be to avoid grand sweeping statements of change if for the audience you are addressing, not much in their day job changes. Again, you must bring rigor to your change in clearly identifying who there is going to be a change for and not get carried away in your own importance by implying that shuffling the pack will create a new suit or extra picture cards etc etc.

Finally, most change is long overdue – so all the above not withstanding, go! start now.

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