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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: phildourado@theleadershiphub.com

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 phildourado.com), 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: phildourado@theleadershiphub.com

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

Phil’s Picks for December: New articles for HR Director, and an impressive leader…

1) Online leadership communities: where are we at?

I’m writing a series of three articles for HR Director on the state of play in using in-house online leadership communities to develop leaders in a ‘community of practice’, as an alternative to, or to supplement, existing leadership development.

The articles are based on eight years of running such a community of practice for one of the largest companies in the world.

Article One: Open Source Leadership – The Future of Leadership Development?

Article Two: The Problem – And Possible Solution – With Leadership Development

2) A leader who really impresses me

One of the joys of running an in-house leadership community is you get to spot wonderful leaders who may not be known as such to the outside world.

These are every day leaders who do it right, in the moment, consistently, and lead by example.

After eight years of running IHG’s Leaders Lounge – their leadership development platform that we built and facilitate for them – I am so impressed by this leader and want to quickly share, as I think she models 21st century leadership for the rest of us.

Emily Chang, Chief Commercial Officer, Greater China, IHG

Emily Chang

Here’s what her colleagues said about her in the community when I asked them to identify great leadership within IHG and describe what it looks like:

“I would like to nominate Emily Chang, the Chief Commercial Officer of Greater China.

I think she is the only female CCO in our company as well.

Five reasons why Emily is an example of how to lead at IHG:

1. She is a smart learner. She joined IHG China from another great company (Apple) last year. She has worked for P&G before but IHG is her first hospitality experience. She learned very fast not through others but her own first hand experience. For example she went to “sleep with the enemy” herself for our competitor hotels. She set an example of how we can develop insights quickly from doing ourselves, not only listening.

2. She is a bold change agent. The first task when Emily started her current role was to tackle the decline RGI/market share challenges in July last year. She has implemented a new organization structure in sales marketing and put together an integrated action plan. She is daring to implement the changes under the performance pressure. The result? The whole team has turned around the RGI after 4 months in November. No risk, no gain. Courage is the first step to build a high performance team.

3. She is a great teacher. Despite her busy schedule, Emily organizes regular “Lean in Lunches” with the women in the office to talk about various topics on how to help them advance their career and life. She will collect the topics and put together the content by herself. Some topics cover, for example, “how to manage your energy to achieve work life balance”, “How to enter the boy’s club?”etc. She shared her knowledge and experience and I was often inspired by the conversation. She also set up a little library beside her office to share great books with us.

4. She brings energy. Energy is the new leadership. I was amazed often by how she can be a caring mother for 2 babies while managing such a big team and responsibility. She brings laughter and injects energy into every single conversation. It takes energy to inspire, motivate people during the change process.

5. She is a creative storyteller. Emily communicates in a very effective way. She can make complicated things simple, make simple things meaningful, and make meaningful things fun. She can not only explain well, but also draw well!

What I appreciate about Emily: she will always make the efforts to share her thinking from those senior meetings with everyone in her team (normally it’s live broadcasting as she does it right after the meeting; see below for example).  She prefers to build a flat, transparent communication instead of following the hierarchy.”


Here’s a link to Emily’s micro articles on LinkedIn, which are brilliant. You can find them here.

Look at how simple drawing can be used as a powerful leadership tool, not just words, in Emily’s micro-articles.

Congruency: Do you experience this every day? >>

Phil’s Picks for November: The Greatest Leadership Speech of All Time?

The level of speechmaking and public pronouncements in the US election by one of the candidates in particular has been breath-takingly unpresidential.

Which reminds me of this wonderful, moving speech by a nearly-President who was lost to us too early.

Now, THIS is what being Presidential and Statesmanlike (or Stateswomanlike) is really about:

Robert Kennedy

Robert Kennedy: The greatest leadership speech ever made? 

On April 4th 1968, Robert Kennedy stepped off a plane and gave an off-the-cuff speech below, from the back of a flatbed truck in a poor black part of Indianapolis. He knew, but the crowd didn’t, that Martin Luther King had been killed that night.

There were riots in 100 US cities this night, in outrage at Dr. King’s murder. But, there was no riot in Indianapolis, where Robert Kennedy gave this speech…

Phil’s Picks for October: Defensive Behaviour / Behavior

“Leaders should want to be wrong.”

I love that, from this TED Talk by one of the new breed of up and coming young workplace psychologists who are making us all rethink how leadership actually works.

Preview for TED Clip

Click Here to watch this essential 60-second clip >>

Phil’s Picks for September: The God Complex (Do you have it without realising?)

Podcast: The God Complex

We’ve been experimenting with podcasts in the online leadership development community we run for a FTSE 100 company, but most of them are too long and rambling.

Make or curate?

We don’t see the point in making them if we can ‘curate’ them: find great ones that are relevant to the organization’s leadership competencies and what the community tells us they want to focus on, and point them at the podcast.

Our proposition is ‘micro-lessons’ for leaders who don’t have time; so they come into our community for just a few minutes to pick up a ‘micro-lesson’ several times a week.

Enough 70/20/10 already: it’s old news!

We think 70/20/10 is ridiculously old news and describes what was not what should be. This is the new way to go: picking up lessons a few minutes at a time several times a week, then trying it at work on the fly.

We need to break the barriers – the lean-to-the-right slashes – in 70/20/10; not assume you have to work with those barriers.

We use a development approach of ‘pick up a new thing, try it, see if it works, add it to your leadership toolkit and tweak it if it does, reject it if it doesn’t and try something else tomorrow or later in the week’ .

This approach busts 70/20/10 and consigns it to history, where it belongs.

Stop trying to work within 70/20/10 confines: that was last century for crying out loud.

Anyway, enough preaching.

The great short podcast segment I’d recommend – and we’re using it for our online leadership community we run in an intranet for a FTSE 100 company’s global community of leaders – is economist Tim Harford’s ten minute segment on…

Complex systems thrive on trial and error

It’s perfect for the community we facilitate, as Harford leads in with describing The God Complex : the inability of leaders to admit mistakes or say ‘I could have done that better’.

Until leaders can openly do that, the people they work with won’t either. And it has to happen if Senge’s old Fifth Discipline – the constantly learning and improving organization via Systems Thinking – is to be achieved.

We use tabloid-style headlines like “The God Complex: Do you have it without realising?” to grab the attention of busy executives and get them to buy into spending a few minutes examining that thought, reflecting on how they lead, and testing it.

That’s the key first step – grab their attention for just a few seconds, pushing everything else aside – in an ‘Attention-Based Learning Model’, which is what we use in our online leadership development communities of practice.

So, thank you Tim Harford!


The most pointless label in the world?

The Most Pointless Label in the World?

This label is on the ’emergency contacts’ page of my new passport.

Actually, it’s very clever.

It’s ‘nudge theory’ in action.

How to change our own and others’ habits is a big theme in leadership.

‘Changing behaviour’ is the goal of any leadership development work.

And of all ‘change programmes’.

But, most work to change behaviour or win hearts and minds or whatever, doesn’t.

Because most change work is too apparently intent on communicating “Look, I’m doing change work” or “Look, I’m developing leaders” rather than actually triggering a shift in behaviour.

Most change work is more concerned with raising awareness of its own existence, of its own process – with being seen to be doing something – and is then surprised at its lack of actual output.

And then has to make up metrics – all in good faith, I’m not suggesting conscious deception – that appear to show the desired change happened.

But don’t really.

As Allan Leighton once said of communicating change (not his actual words, I’m paraphrasing):

“Saying ‘We spent x amount of money on making and distributing a video to champion the change. We made everyone sit in town hall meetings and watch it. It was watched X,000 times by X,000 people…”

… may give you an A for effort. And a lot of input activity to report upwards: metrics or measures.

But it gives you no evidence that you have communicated properly or achieved any change at all.

Virtue signalling

Most change efforts are what is increasingly called virtue signalling – “Look at what I’m doing to further the cause.”

All you do with most change programmes is pass on the latest language or slogan. People, who aren’t stupid, pick it up and start using the new language, to virtue signal back to the organization that they have got the programme and are with it.

But, what I love about ‘nudge’ ways of changing how people behave is it doesn’t care if it looks stupid.

It isn’t trying to impress anyone.

The clue that the label, above, isn’t stupid, is the black on yellow. That’s what attracts the eye in marketing or advertising, psychologists tell us. So, someone put thought into that stupid-looking label.

Think about it for a second or two and there’s only one reason it can be there;

too many people don’t fill in this page with next of kin details.

Remove the label and you see the word ‘Emergency’.

You are reading the top of the page and you have already started doing something with that page – interacting by removing the label. You are engaged.

They’ve got your attention and made you do something. You are ‘in’ the page. And therefore more likely to pick up a pen and fill in the details.

They’ve changed how we behave. Without worrying about looking stupid.

No, I haven’t filled in the next of kin details: I wrote this instead. But, I will now. Honest.

More on using Nudge Theory to make change happen

TED Radio Hour: Nudge theory