Posts Categorised: Leadership Development

Remaining Objective Is Hard, But the Best Leaders Figure Out How to Do It

“There is no single leadership trait that guarantees success in any profession, but there is, based on my experience, one that many of the best leaders share: a fierce commitment to objectivity. And yet I realize it’s often not easy for leaders to remain objective.

In my nearly three-decade career in the intelligence community, I have worked for and with 11 Directors of CIA and all five Directors of National Intelligence. Each has brought their own personality and skill set to the job, and each in their time has faced their own set of challenges, from deeply contentious relationships with the White House and Congress to unforeseen terrorist attacks on the homeland and U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas. I think each would agree that leading in the intelligence community is a daily exercise in crisis management, whether at the helm of CIA with its global analytic and operational responsibilities, or at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with its oversight responsibilities for the entire intelligence community.”

Source: Michael P. Dempsey (2018). Harvard Business Review, available here (open access).

To Sound Like a Leader, Think About What You Say, and How and When You Say It


“Whether you are an associate manager or a senior executive, what you say, how you say it, when you say it, to whom you say it, and whether you say it in the proper context are critical components for tapping into your full strategic leadership potential. If you want to establish credibility and influence people, particularly when interacting with other executives or senior leadership, it’s important to be concise and let individuals know clearly what role you want them to play in the conversation. It’s also important to demystify the content of any message you deliver by avoiding jargon and being a person of few — but effective — words.”

Source: Shambaugh, R. (2017). Harvard Business Review and available from this link (open access, with personal registration).

The Navigator: Your guide to leadership for social purpose


“The guide draws on a wealth of resources including the latest and seminal ideas on leadership. It is intended for emerging and established leaders across the social purpose ecosystem, from not-for-profits through social enterprises to socially responsible businesses. The guide is an accessible publication for anyone who wants to be a catalyst for social purpose and effect change at a complex, systems level. You do not need to be in a position of formal leadership or power to use this guide; it has been developed for everyone working towards the creation of positive social impact in Australia. We believe that everyone can develop the leadership capacities to make a difference.”

Source: Walker, A., Wilcox, T.,  Powell, A.,  and Muir, K. (2017) Center for Social Impact and available from this link (open access).

Leading together: A leadership film


Leaves in sunshine

“The film includes interviews with leaders from the United Nations, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the United States Navy, Australian Army and the World Food Program, and non-government organisations. Watch now for a preview of practical leadership advice from some of the world’s most prominent and experienced leaders. ”

Source: Australian Civil-Military Centre (2017). Available from this link (open access). 

Succession Planning: What the Research Says

Blue Groper

“So what can directors do not only to prepare for succession events but to ensure they make a winning pick when the time comes? A first step is to integrate executive development programs with CEO succession planning so that the best internal candidates are identified early and flagged at the board level. The proof that such an approach works can be found in companies with prestigious leadership-training programs.”

Source: Harrell, E. (2016). Harvard Business Review, and available from this link (open access, personal registration required).

Sharpening the Sword of State: Building executive capacities in the public services of the Asia-Pacific

North Head/M. Hardy

“Sharpening the Sword of State explores the various ways in which 10 jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific enhance their administrative capabilities through training and executive development. It traces how modern governments across this region look to develop their public services and public sector organisations in the face of rapid global change. For many governments there is a delicate balance between the public interest in promoting change and capacity enhancement across the public service, and the temptation to micro-manage agencies and be complacent about challenging the status quo.”

Source: Podger, A. & Wanna, J. (2016). ANU Press (ebook ) available from this link (open access).

Effective leadership today – character not just competence



“Three recent publications by noted authors offer valuable insights into the new directions that leadership development thinking and practice now need to take, with all of three books placing particular emphasis on the importance of character, identity and values, not just competence. Organizational psychologist Fred Kiel’s book, Return On Character sets out to show that the strength of a leader’s character is an important driver of business success and to examine the implications for leadership development. Discover Your True North by Harvard professor and former CEO of Medtronic Bill George examines why the self-development process of discovering one’s core values and passion (authenticity) to lead is essential to becoming an engaging and empowering leader. The theme of leadership as a life-long developmental challenge is Robert Kaplan’s primary focus in What You Really Need to Lead.”

Source: Leavy, B. (2016). Strategy & Leadership, 44/1, and available from this link (subscription journal).

Leadership and organizational ambidexterity


“The analysis identified three key organizational mechanisms (training, performance management, and knowledge management) that leaders use to promote exploitation. As the focus is on reducing variation, reinforcing institutionalized learning (the status quo), reliability, refinement, efficiency, selection, implementation, and execution, the mechanisms deal with how these objectives may be accomplished.” The findings presented in this paper are based on semi-structured interviews with 11 senior leaders in Australian Defence.

Source: Baškarada, S., Watson, J., & Cromarty, J. (2016). Journal of Management Development, 35/6, and available from this link (subscription journal).


Authentic leadership and mindfulness development through action learning

Processed with MOLDIV


“The results suggest that a leadership development program based on action learning principles can foster the development of AL and mindfulness. The core elements of action learning (i.e. working on real problems, gaining new insights in a supportive and confrontational environment of one’s peer) appear to be key to bringing about real changes in the behavior of participating managers and maximizing the chances of generating lasting effects.”

Source: Baron, L. (2016). Journal of Managerial Psychology, 31/1, and available from this link (subscription journal).

Leadership At Work

Rocks at Manly/Flickr

“The Study of Australian Leadership is a national survey that provides a comprehensive picture of leadership in Australian organisations, allowing us to assess how leadership impacts workplace performance, innovation and employee outcomes.” Study leader, Professor Gahan said organisations often promoted people into leadership roles because they were very good at certain specific tasks, not because they were adept at managing others. “Based on their technical performance, they’re thrown into roles where they have to exercise very different skills, and they don’t have the experience to be able to manage those roles particularly well,” he said. “I think this partly explains that gap, but also tells us why investing at the frontline in leadership capability is critically important.”

Source: Centre for Workplace Leadership and available from this link (open access).