Phil’s Picks for March – Morrisons Marketing Director recommends my book

Mike MorrisonsHoban, Morrison’s Marketing Director, has just recommended my Seven Secrets of Inspired Leaders book, along with The First 90 Days. Mike says there are too many books out there and that these are the two books marketers should be reading.

Here’s the link >>

Glad to see that leaders are still finding the book useful, as it’s 12 years old now. The community behind that book – the Inspired Leaders Network – brought together leaders who were achieving extraordinary results, from Body Shop founder Anita Roddick to First Direct founding CEO Mike Harris.

That ‘share great and emerging practice’ principle is what underlies our online communities now. >>

Seven Secrets Book

If a book of collated learning from 12 years ago is still invaluable to these senior leaders, it’s just another reminder how powerful emergent peer-to-peer learning is.



How to build an online Leadership Community of Practice

In these short videos, leadership development expert Phil Dourado explains how to build a leadership community of practice.

How the Leadership Hub's current corporate platform works

One-minute Videos

These links take you to the Hub, where you can find the videos.

The problem with existing Leadership Development

What is a leadership community of practice?

How to set up a leadership community of practice

Learning in real-time from each other

Small bites of learning to prompt action

A behaviour-led community

Emergence: how the content is generated

We reversed the time-paradigm for learning

Security & Confidentiality

To ask about setting up your own leadership community of practice:

Phil’s Picks for February: Drive for Diversity, and ‘Dyad’ Leadership

1. We recently featured a guest post on the Leadership Hub from a leader we have admired for quite a while.

Dame Stephanie Shirley came to us offering an article for the site and introducing herself, but our team already knew of her since my colleague Zara had pointed us at her TED Talk. We really admire her drive for furthering diversity.

Dame Stephanie Shirley

Worldwide probably the biggest cultural difference between leaders is gender. This has the most profound implications. Because equality will only come when men share leadership equally with women.

I’m an entrepreneur who, back in 1962, started a computer software company of women, for women. Leaders – men and women alike – often start things. They also then invariably determine the criteria for leadership in their own organizations and beyond — and thus who will, and will not, lead in the future.

 Here’s that Hub link again.

2. An interesting approach gaining attention in healthcare: ‘dyad’ leadership

…brought to our attention by this article in Cardiovascular Business.

What is ‘Dyad’ Leadership?

Essentially a leadership partnership.

An administrative or nurse leader collaborates with a physician leader, with the goal to bring out the best in both and to cover what the other is missing. ‘Dyad’ supporters tout that it reduces leader burnout and improves cross-division communication.

Dyad Leadership

And it dispels the core myth of leadership that a single leader is at the top. That alone is promising.

Having written before about the power of co-leadership outside healthcare (here on, I’m interested in the improving results being shown in the US, and whether it’s transferable to the NHS and other countries.

See you in March!

– Phil

A new model for leadership development in large organizations

Head of Global Leadership Development for Specsavers Jennifer Alexander and her team are six months into an experiment that could be a game-changer: a global, online community of practice for her company’s leaders and partners. She explains in an interview with Phil Dourado

Specsavers logo

In this connected world, much of our thinking happens collaboratively and ‘out loud’: it becomes formed during conversations, in real time.

Yet when we get to work, we revert to what we feel are more formal, and therefore acceptable, ways of communicating and working together. For the most part, that means we revert to email.

Our Leadership Hub is partly about bringing connected behaviour into the workplace, and helping evolve work from the assumption that this kind of social connection is informal and therefore somehow invalid or the equivalent of unstructured play.

Social Learning (Leadership Development)

How we started

The concept was endorsed by our Global HR Director and Board Member Pauline Best, who encouraged the exploration of external and internal research around social learning.  We explored a number of papers produced by ‘Towards Maturity’ as well as our own internal white papers.  We knew we wanted the user experience to be powerful from the start and that we wanted to take a people focused technology approach.

We started with 360 members – leaders in the business and store partners (Specsavers is run on a JVP – Joint Venture Partnership – model).

When they go into our online Leadership Hub, the way in is through a Common Room. That’s where general interaction takes place. There are four classrooms leading off the Common Room, for our four programmes – Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Change, Leading Commercially.

Those rooms are where the users go into a deeper dive on one of those topics. Each room is led by a programme sponsor, a Specsavers Board Member who is an advocate for that stream of learning.

Online Learning (Leadership Development)

So, they come into the online community and into the relevant classroom to access the learning materials before and after their programme workshops, for prep in advance and then post-session follow-on work. The classrooms initially acted as a repository for the materials and a place to work with those materials in your own time.

That ‘help yourself in your own time’ element was primary. The social collaboration tool was secondary to that. One thing I’ve observed is that we now have over 550 users and they have used our Leadership Hub predominantly as instructed; to access the pre-work and leadership resources available.

We need to remember that the members are essentially non-digital natives for the most part. So, any assumption that they might intuitively go in and play … well, it wasn’t going to happen naturally for everyone.

What we have learned

Looking back, we should have made the social collaboration side the primary purpose, with the resource access secondary. And for 2017 we are taking that learning and applying it.

Bright Ideas (Leadership Development)

Some cohorts where there is strong sponsorship do collaborate more in The Hub. We learned that strong sponsorship leads to 20% more activity than in groups where the sponsor is not actively leading the collaboration.

That learning about how the users behave and what prompts most participation will help us evolve The Hub: so, for example, with the next generation of sponsors we will make it explicit upfront that part of their responsibility is to lead the collaboration in their group, as we now know that’s what works.

Where we are now

Thanks to the work of some who have taken the lead in the community, I know what good looks like now. This gives us a blueprint to build on.

The sponsors will fill the role of agitators or ‘nudge’ action from participants (nudge theory recently emerged from studies in behavioural economics).

The facilitators – the experts who created and ran the real-world workshops that make up the physical side of our leadership development programmes – also nudge in the community. We give them log in rights and they participate in the community, some more than others.

Sukhwant Bal, for example, facilitated the Leading Others workshop and he recently dropped in a little nudge on self-limiting beliefs and how do you overcome them, to spark off follow-on thinking and action from the workshop itself.

Graham Wilson, who facilitated the Leading Change programme for our Partners, regularly posts short videos with real tips and techniques – they are captured on his phone and are great examples of using technology to share ideas and leadership thinking.

These nudges and prompts create a continual drumbeat to the self-learning journey within the community.  Instead of the usual model of ‘here’s the workshop, tick the box when taken, roll out and deploy’.

Jen Alexander was talking to Phil Dourado. This is an edited version of a fuller article in which Jen goes into more detail with Phil about how in-house leadership communities of practice are the way forward for leadership development in large organizations.

For a copy of the full 3,500 word case study written by Phil, where Jen goes into more detail about how to build a community of practice for leaders, email:

Phil’s Picks for January: Growth Mindset resolves a leadership paradox

1. We are not alone!

I have been a bit worried, I have to admit. I mean, 10 years after setting up the world’s first online global community of practice for leaders, and eight years of running one inside a FTSE 100 company, winning awards and all that good stuff, a big bit of me was thinking … If this is indeed the future of leadership development, why are we the only ones doing it?

Growth Mindset

And now we’re not. Phew. I’ve been talking at length with Jen Alexander at Specsavers and they have created a very clever global leadership community of practice. Which has re-convinced me (if that’s even a word) that we are right to have started this.

And the rest of the leadership development world is just taking its time to catch up.

I’m writing an article about Specsavers’ community and the transferable lessons. Watch this space.

2. Authentic means ugly

Wonderful talk on ‘The Ugly Room‘ and how authentic leadership means embracing the ugly, and how to do that, spotted by my colleague, Danny.

3. Nice reminder of the work of Carol Dweck

in this article spotted by another colleague of mine, Clement, ‘The Impact of a Growth Mindset on Employee Engagement’.

The ‘Ugly Room’ and ‘Growth Mindset’ need to be taken together, if possible, as they help resolve a leadership paradox.

I’ve stuck 2. and 3. together here, as they help resolve the apparent paradox between positive psychology (where you can end up ignoring the blemishes in the drive to keep everyone motivated and upbeat) and negativism or over-criticality of individuals, team or organization, which can go under cover as a ‘sub-culture’ for lack of any other outlet, and/or can undermine the team or organisation

Jim Collins’s Stockdale Paradox and Gramsci’s ‘Pessimism of the Intellect and Optimism of the Will’ are, neither of them, a solution to the tension between optimism and pessimism or positivism and negativism. Confront reality, as Larry Bossidy said. Warts and all. But remain inspiring and keep people inspired.

Hey, no-one said this leadership stuff was easy: it involves taking apparent opposites and reconciling them in many cases.

Phil Dourado