Welcome to the JWC blog

Who do you admire as a leader?

When asked this people often name political or business figures, for example

Winston Churchill – tough in a crisis, stirring orator.
Nelson Mandela – visionary – changing his approach – tolerance of his incarceration.
Elizabeth 1 – “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman but I have the heart and stomach of a king” – her own quote.
Alan Sugar – “You’re fired!”

What will people say about you?
What do you want people to say about you?

Try rating yourself against these questions on 1-5 scale, 5 being high and 1 low

  • Can you be tough and give clear instructions when facing a crisis?
  • Can you inspire other with a clear vision and ensure they are part of that vision?
  • Are you democratic? Do you consult and listen to feedback and ideas from others?
  • Can you bring people together around a common goal, especially from different starting places?
  • Can you lead from the front, modelling good behaviours – and know when to do this and when not to?
  • Can you engage in a dialogue with people and ask them about their perspective, avoiding telling and advising?

What’s your score?

These questions relate to Daniel Goleman leadership styles model.

Give priority to the areas in which you score lowest. If you feel brave ask trusted colleagues in your team to rate you and use the feedback.

How to become resilient as a leader

A New Year – made any resolutions? Not kept them just briefly into the New Year?

It can be hard to keep resolutions once the demands of the job keep coming along.

Being really clear about goals is a key starting point

  • What do you want to achieve for the organisation?
  • How do you need to lead in order to achieve these goals?

Sometimes the goals are externally set and you might feel there are too many of them and they are not realistic. Be clear in your own mind about what can be achieved and articulate these goals to yourself first – before sharing with others. Pin them up on your notice board or in your wok journal – whatever you use. Whatever way you use keep them simply stated and manageable.

Check your progress against them regularly.

Be firm with others about their roles in achieving the goals. Firmness is part of resilience but is not to be confused with rigidity or lack of flexibility.

Resilience also means staying calm emotionally when people around you are not delivering, behaving as you would hope or being challenging in a myriad of ways. Firstly it is important to recognise how people make you feel. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on these feelings, write things down if this works for you.

Leave the reflection in the office and go home or to the gym or wherever, leaving those feelings behind. You can’t deal with issues until the next day.

Parking feelings takes some discipline but will help your emotional resilience considerably allowing you to focus on issues rather than personalities and behaviour more clearly and from a slight distance.

You know the quote “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

How do you rate your resilience?

Leadership Ideas for busy People – Changing yourself!

Leadership Ideas for busy People – Changing yourself is the way to change others


If only person X wouldn’t do this or if only Person Y would do the other; in other words if other people behaved as you want them to your life would be much improved. It’s always somebody else’s responsibility or fault. They are the reason things are not as they should or need to be. Simple – and nothing to do with me.

Or is it?

Can we make other people change their behaviour? Whose behaviour can be changed?

The answer is easy; only our own.

And changing our own behaviour is the way to change other people’s behaviour. As a leader your behaviour models the behaviour for others in the organisation. If you are easily irritated, then it is OK for others to be so too. So this is first about acknowledging your own behaviours and being prepared to and able to manage them.

If people are not punctual or prepared for meetings, make sure you are on both counts – start on time, even if it’s the Chair who is late and be consistent about this. The message is powerful.

If someone is rude and overbearing – work at staying calm and being quietly assertive in response until they adjust to your tone. If someone shouts the likely response is to want to shout back. It is more effective to stay cool and dignified. They may not immediately recognise their behaviour is unacceptable but it is hard to go on shouting at someone who is calm and collected.

Managing your own behaviour needs you to be in touch with your own triggers and responses. You may not manage this level of self- control all the time but acknowledge that to the person if possible; “Sorry I was a bit short with you yesterday I was feeling rather pressured I’ll make sure we have more time next time we talk.”

Focus on yourself and how you do things. You can worry less about changing the behaviour of others and concentrate on managing yourself. It is about what others see you do and what they hear you say.

It was Ghandi who said, Be the change you want to see in the world.

How do you know when what you do and say has impact on others?

Leadership Ideas for Busy People – 5 stages for Leading Change

Leadership Ideas for Busy People – 5 stages for Leading Change


We live in complex times and change is the only constant. But it doesn’t have to be random and as leader you can scaffold the process. There are many models; Kotter has an 8 step one. Here’s my 5 step version if 8 is too many to remember, as it is for me.

  • Prepare
  • Plan
  • Implement
  • Review
  • Embed

1. Prepare the ground.

If a need for change has been identified, or even imposed externally, signal to all parties that changes are coming and importantly why they are happening. Prepare and use rational arguments to support the need for change. Model relishing change rather than seeming put upon. It presents an opportunity even when it does not initially appear so.

Consult as widely as possible and be prepared to use good ideas. Be clear about the status of consultation; enabling people to contribute to the new future rather than negotiating the best deal.

Expect resistance – this is natural but don’t be moved off track if change is imperative. Be prepared to make shifts where feasible.

2. Plan by creating a clear timed route map.

Use a Change Team with staff from different levels across the organisation to prepare and deliver the plan. Decide whether you are going to start small, working with willing participants or involve the whole organisation.

Publicise the plan well so that everyone is in the know.  Build in early reviews – see stage 4

Be realistic about timing. It always takes longer than you think.

3. Implement as agreed and deliver the promises made.

Use the Change Team to monitor implementation and to gather feedback. Give praise for people’s efforts to adopt new practices. Keep the momentum so that it is not possible to revert to old practices and default behaviours. Expect an implementation dip early in the change process. Be prepared to regain the momentum.

4. Review progress regularly.

Take feedback early and frequently and make adaptations in the light of experience if necessary. Recognise and reward good progress towards the changes required. Be prepared for glitches and respond productively.

5. Embed new systems or procedures.

Really this is about new behaviours and changing the culture of the organisation. Changing the way people do things. This takes times and like all big life changes needs a minimum of 2 years . Focus on the outcomes you want to achieve and what you want people in the organisation to think, feel say and do differently as a result of the changes to procedures and practices. Enable them to change overtime rather than overnight.

Look out for a forthcoming blog about dealing with resistance.

Michael Fullan (Leading in a Culture of Change) talks about seeing results as;

More good things happen

Fewer bad things happen.

How far can you live with change outcomes framed in this way?



Leadership Ideas for Busy People – 4 ways to build anad maintain an effective team

Leadership Ideas for Busy People – 4 Ways to build and maintain an Effective Team


Here are 4 ways you can use to build and maintain an effective team:

1. Be absolutely clear about core goals and have no more than 3 at any one time.

More than 3 and people can’t keep momentum at any one time.

Ideally do this through consensus building. Involve team members in identifying goals and give them a priority order.  Display the goals, share them with other relevant groups.

Keep revisiting your goals and assessing progress. If your goals are SMART goals reviewing is easier. Goals drive the business and clarity is essential.

2. Make sure all team members know what they have to do to deliver the goals.

This is not about job descriptions but what people actually do in practice.  Team members also need to understand what roles other people have and how they might work together and support each other and avoid overlap where possible. In other word team member roles are clear and transparent and regularly revisited to make adjustments where necessary.

3. The team needs good processes to do their work.

Efficient systems, structures and resources need to be in place to enable team members to be effective.  If the infrastructure is still to develop acknowledge the challenges and adjust requirements where practical. Ensure systems are reviewed and be prepared to ditch old ways and try new approaches where feasible. Team meetings especially need to be efficient and productive use of people’s time. Look out for a forthcoming blog on improving team meetings.

4. Work hard to build team relationships.

This is really crucial. It’s not about everybody liking each other and being chummy. It is about good professional inter-relations where differences of perspective are valued but do not become personal. Ensure members get equal air time and invite them to take on different positions in the meeting; summarising a discussion, presenting the case against an idea or proposing ideas about how to overcome some barriers. Celebrate successes no matter how small and try to recognise everyone’s efforts regularly. Start team meetings with each member sharing some current success. Plan some team time with treats according to your circumstances. Promote a can do culture within the team.

Richard Beckhard’s research identified 4 key aspects of effective teams and they provide a useful mantra.

  • Goals
  • Roles
  • Processes
  • Relationships

How do you rate your team under those 4 headings?

Leadership Ideas for Busy people – Two things to do to keep a project on track

Here are two ideas for you as a busy leader to keep a project on track. Starting a project is easier than keeping the momentum which can be challenging.


The first is to be absolutely clear about what you want the outcomes to be.

  • What will be achieved?
  • What will the new situation look like?
  • What will people think and feel?
  • What will people say and do?

Answers to these questions are your touchstones and as you build in reviews start each time by revisiting the desired outcomes. Regular reminders for you and the team of what you are trying to achieve helps keep the key goals to the fore. Being able to adapt your strategy to meet your goals may be necessary though your intended outcomes should remain constant. So start with the end in focus.

The second is to expect and anticipate setbacks.

Few projects move in an upward trajectory without some hitches. Change theorists , Michael Fullan for example, recognise an implementation dip even in the best  teams and the easiest of circumstances. Being alert to potential gremlins or loss of momentum enables you as leader to schedule timely and regular review points, both informal and formal, where starting with successful progress and milestones achieved means the focus is positive.

  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working so well?
  • What can we change or adapt?
  • When do we next need to make an input to maintain momentum?

There are plenty fancy project tools to capture all this but a low tech version works just as well:

Brown Paper or Lining Paper is durable. Start with a time line along the top and show the strands perhaps person related in lanes down the side. Start with the intended outcomes at the furthest right hand side using the questions as above to ensure clarity about what the goals will look like. Team members then populate the planning grid with Post Its for actions indicating key milestones where necessary. The use of sticky notes enables you to be flexible and shift plans to provide more time or speed up actions as needed.

Michael Fullan says in Leading in a Culture of Change that effective leaders “appreciate the early difficulties of trying something new” and by combining clarity of outcomes with an understanding of the impact of change processes leaders help the team achieve success.

How do currently respond when energy loss or interference disrupts the progress of your plans?

Leadership Ideas for Busy People – 3 Ways to Motivate your Team

Leadership Ideas for Busy People – 3 Ways to Motivate your Team


Here are 3 suggestions for leaders to implement to improve team motivation.

1. Ask your team individually to rate the team’s success in answer to the following questions.

Goals - Is the team really clear about what we are trying to achieve?

Is everyone in line behind these goals?

Roles – Is everyone absolutely clear about what you each do and are expected to achieve to deliver the goals?

Do team members understand how their roles fit together?

Systems - Have we got effective systems to making working together productive?

Try a stand up exercise Agree / Disagree asking people to stand on a line to express their view with Agree at one end and Disagree at the other. Encourage different perspectives and allow individuals to talk openly. Moving around creates some energy.  Really listen to what people have to say. Critical comment is welcome and should never be taken personally.

2. Starting with the position that practice should be always developing and can always get better plan regular team review sessions.

Use a suggestions box as a live activity with the team.  Each team member is asked to put up to 3 suggestions, anonymously, into the box. The suggestions are ideas to improve working together. Doing this anonymously removes a possible personal element.

Appoint a chair to take each suggestion out and using a flip chart process each suggestion quickly – what would work if we tried this and what might get in the way?

Ask each person to vote for their top 3 workable suggestions.

Be prepared to implement ideas contributed and if necessary invite team members to lead implementation.

3. Focus on one team member each meeting and ask them to bring something to the meeting – an artefact or a picture to use to talk about their work – why they are doing what they do or how they do it and how it is going.

Do this informally rather than as a presentation. Ensure everyone gets their chance to share their work without being competitive. The goal here is to improve communication and mutual recognition and support.

Henry Ford said:

Coming together is a beginning

Keeping together is progress

Working together is success

Your aim as team leader is achieve working together for success.

What team review processes do you currently use and how effective are they?

Leadership Ideas for Busy People – One Thing to do this Week

Leadership Ideas – One Thing to do this Week


One leadership idea busy people can use this week is to give praise and recognition to team members. This will improve your leadership profile and help the team work more effectively.

The one thing you can do to make a difference is to give praise and recognition to all your team – in person. This is not e-mails or notes or cards. This is face to face.

Surprisingly some people find that more difficult than you might think, both to give and to receive. Embarrassment takes over and people can get flustered. You, as leader, need to be the one in control. KISS – Keep It Simple and Straightforward.

Team of two or twenty, the principle is the same – find something for which you can genuinely say thank you or well done to each and every individual and seek them out and do it. It is the most basic form of respect and opens many doors. Apply the KISS approach and move on.

So find the person at the water cooler or wherever and just express your thanks, appreciation or recognition.

E.G. “Dealing with that visitor last week was really helpful. Thanks a lot”.

“I appreciated you staying behind last night to get things finished.”

“Good work on that presentation Chris.”

“I know you’ve had to spend time reworking that paper. I appreciate that.”

We mean to say these things but do not always get round to doing so. It can seem over the top to give praise for something small, and furthermore, something that person should do anyway. However, we all grow in a climate of recognition and success and a leader’s contribution is to note the small achievements which contribute to the larger whole.

Praise and recognition in large measure enables constructive and, perhaps critical messages, to be taken on board.

It can help to keep a list of the people you have spoken to just to make sure your recognition is even handed. The comments have to be genuine and authentic and should be regular, part of the culture of the organisation.

In discussions with team members about leaders they rate and ones they don’t, direct and personal thanks and recognition always features very highly as a leadership behaviour that people value significantly.

So start by saying something to everyone this week.

How does saying thank you make you feel?
And who says thank you to you and recognises your efforts?



Distributed Leadership – I was recently part of a recorded session for NCSL chaired by Sue McGregor about this topic. What is distributed leadership and how does it work in practice.
Click on the link and listen in