Executive Leadership – Can we Trust ‘Realistic Optimism’

There is much executive discussion around ‘realistic optimism’, which is the ability to balance out negative and positive things in situations, circumstances and people.
It is the courage to explore opportunities, where others are blocked by risk and failure, with the belief that the future will be better than the past.

Optimism bias is defined as the difference between a person’s expectation and the outcome that follows. If expectations are better than reality, the bias is optimistic; if reality is better than expected, the bias is pessimistic, according to Cell Press something that 80% of the global population possess to some degree.

Thinking positively is an evolutionary hallmark, because it facilitates envisioning what is possible, allowing us to be courageous and innovative. Levels of optimism bias vary according to our mental state and current circumstances, and there are ways to temper or increase it.

That’s good, because a surfeit of optimism can lead to underestimating risk. Understanding where you sit on the optimism spectrum can help you adjust for your bias – and maybe even make better choices.

At the root of optimism bias are two assumptions: first, that we possess more positive traits than the average person; second, that we have some kind of control over the world around us.

Despite unexpected negative events happening to us – or seeing them on the news – it is the positive events that tend to leave the biggest impression on our belief systems. We simply “learn better” from good things happening around us, which perpetuates the bias. Bad things tend to be given less credence, and some people ignore them altogether.

An overabundance of optimism, however, can lead to an inadequate assessment of potential hazards. A common example is planners underestimating budgets and timeframes. It could also mean failing to take out insurance, or not wearing a helmet while cycling – or maybe even catching illness through complacency or neglect.

Optimism bias occurs with equal prevalence across the global population, but culture plays a role by influencing how optimistic or pessimistic people consider themselves. In cultures in which optimism is considered a good thing, such as the US and Australia, people are more likely to self-identify as optimists.

Optimism is also linked to success in multiple domains, whether it’s business, politics, or sports. CEOs tend to be more optimistic than the average person, as are entrepreneurs, whose optimism increases further once they take the leap into starting their businesses.

American psychologist Martin Seligman teaches people to cultivate a more optimistic viewpoint by ascribing permanent causes to positive things and temporary ones to negative things. A person may say, ‘That project went well because I am a good engineer’ or ‘That project failed because I didn’t put enough time into it’.

The message is that good things happen for reasons inherent to the individual, while bad things are attributed to causes that can be remedied, such as last-minute preparations. This cultivates a positive self-view that makes us optimistic about our future prospects.

Many studies have been carried out about the effectiveness of optimism as a psychological phenomenon, leading to various theoretical formulations of the same concept, conceptualized as “disposition”, “attributional style”, “cognitive bias”, or “shared illusion”.

This overview is an attempt to explore the “optimism” concept and its relations with mental health, physical health, coping, quality of life and adaptation of purpose, health lifestyle and risk perception.

Positive and negative expectations regarding the future are important for understanding the vulnerability to mental disorders, in particular mood and anxiety disorders, as well as to physical illness. A significant positive relation emerges between optimism and coping strategies focused on social support and emphasis on positive aspects of stressful situations.

Through employment of specific coping strategies, optimism exerts an indirect influence also on the quality of life. There is evidence that optimistic people present a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or even pessimists.

Optimism may significantly influence mental and physical well-being by the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as well as by adaptive behaviours and cognitive responses, associated with greater flexibility, problem-solving capacity and a more efficient elaboration of negative information.

We have all heard the adage of the glass being half full or half empty to determine if someone skews toward being an optimist or pessimist. But perhaps there’s a third option: realist. While pure optimists and pure pessimists simply accept (or reject), realists tend to take action.

A realist looks at the glass and says, “Hey, there’s a glass with some liquid in it.” Where a pure optimist may be completely happy with the amount that’s in the glass, and a pure pessimist may be disappointed, pure realists don’t judge – they accept, observe, and question: “Is this the right amount for me right now?”; “Is this the right glass for me?” If it’s not, then they take action.

However, like most things, optimism and pessimism are on a spectrum, with realistic thinking in the middle. So, you can have realistic pessimists and realistic optimists the difference between the two is that realistic optimists have the ability to be hopeful that they can change things for the better. They believe they’ll succeed but understand that doing so will take work.

As human beings, we can practice integrative awareness before, in, and after the moment. Beforehand, we can visualize the expected external event and our potential internal response. After the event, we can reflect and process the experience, let go of stress, and gain insight. In the moment, we can observe ourselves while having the experience and regulate our behaviour at the same time.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger brought the process of integrative awareness alive when he landed his commercial plane in the Hudson River in 2009. After a bird strike cut both engines of his commercial flight soon after take-off, Captain Sullenberger demonstrated the ability to stay calm while facing fear.

Instead of returning to the airport as air traffic controllers were advising, he paused and assessed that he couldn’t make it, landing instead in the river and saving the lives of all on board. The balancing of emotions with a rational and deliberate thought process is something scientists call metacognition.

By practicing internal awareness on two levels (having the experience and observing it at the same time), you can catch early signals of distress, doubt, or fear without acting out a stress response. This is especially critical in times of crisis. While we can never be purely objective, we can try to reach that state as much as possible.

Without objective awareness, signals of distress can trigger “survival” behaviour, and we lose the ability to pause, reflect, and decide. For a leader during crisis, this survival state can present a huge risk, and in the case of Captain Sullenberger, it would have been fatal.

In a crisis, some leaders react to complex problems with polarizing opinions, quick fixes, false promises, or overly simplistic answers, often combined with a command-and-control leadership style. They lose their ability to be in dialogue, to continuously adapt, and to look for novel solutions.

In a situation where their experience falls short, but without the ability to practice integrative awareness, they may be guided by their fear and resort to habitual responses, often unconsciously biased, to unfamiliar problems.

Another risk of not being aware of our internal world is found in “sacrifice syndrome”: leaders who face constant pressure do not find time to take care of themselves, leading to reduced effectiveness and exhaustion.

Successful Leadership requires optimism and realism. While we need Leaders to not sugarcoat problems when communicating with Employees, any harsh realities need to be balanced with inspiring perseverance about the organization’s future.

But it’s not only our Leaders’ responsibility to balance reality and optimism … it’s something every employee should do. Really, it’s something we should do in every aspect of our lives. Why?

According to an article on WebMD, realistic thinking helps us be present by focusing on reality and not hypotheticals. It’s also shown to improve overall wellbeing because realistic thinking allows you to create “reasonable expectations for yourself and those around you that will help you live a less stressful life…

When you train yourself to rationalize and think critically about the situation, you’re more likely to expect reasonable outcomes. This will set you up for better thoughts and mental health in the future.”

Dr. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association and legendary researcher in the field of optimism, discovered that optimism or pessimism lies in the way you explain the events that happen to you. Such “automatic thoughts” often cause us to assess events inaccurately and jump to erroneous conclusions.

Unrealistic optimism is defined as believing that you are more likely to experience pleasant events than is actually the case, and less likely than others to experience negative ones. It can keep you from being able to change direction when you are unable to see the trouble that lies ahead.

So, when it comes to optimism or pessimism, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is an ideal motto. To achieve that you must be honest with yourself about your usual approach to life. Discover the ways in which your past may be distorting your present.

Doing this can transform your grip on the truth for the better. By far the greatest cause of the emotional disturbances that make us avoid reality is our childhood relationships with our parents. Surprisingly few people have an understanding of the true role they played in their family, let alone of the extent to which suffered early maltreatment.

Final word, positive expectations are good; optimism leads us to look for new challenges and work on the things we have control over. On the other hand, we should remember the importance of being realistic and be aware of the line between constructive optimism and pop psychology positive thinking. Have positive expectations about the future, but do not get into the habit of sweeping reality under the rug or distorting it.

Otherwise, you might be caught off guard when negative things happen. We should also evaluate to what extent the situation can be changed and act accordingly. If there are situations or conditions you cannot change, it’s better to accept them rather than relying on false optimism. Lastly, remember that being “very optimistic” might not necessarily result in the best outcomes in every situation. It might be balance that keeps us going.

We never know, but creating the illusion of predictability is easier than you may think. We have the ability to remove the illusion that we know what the world will look like in the coming months or years. And we have the ability to have a plan and act despite these objective limitations.

When we face the dilemma of what will become the basis for our decisions and actions, a pessimistic or optimistic vision of the future, it is worth remembering that we do not have to function in this dichotomy. There is still realistic optimism, which takes into account all the circumstances based on a realistic expectation.

Sandrea L. Schneider PhD and Professor once stated on the subject.

“When our hopes for performance are not completely met, realistic optimism involves accepting what cannot now be changed, rather than condemning or second-guessing ourselves.
Focusing on the successful aspects of performance (even when the success is modest) promotes positive affect, reduces self-doubt, and helps to maintain motivation (e.g., McFarland & Ross, 1982)….

Nevertheless, realistic optimism does not include or imply expectations that things will improve on their own.

Wishful thinking of this sort typically has no reliable supporting evidence. Instead, the opportunity-seeking component of realistic optimism motivates efforts to improve future performances on the basis of what has been learned from past performances.”

LIFE is Short…

Life is short. Why not spend it mired in regret? Why not spend your evenings sitting side by side at the dining-room table with your spouse, trying to determine whether your downstairs neighbours’ ceiling fan is making the floor tremble?

Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence.

Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.

Our existence on this planet is statistically insignificant when compared with the history of the universe. So, take advantage of it! Charge your spouse six pounds and eighty pence on Venmo for “supplemental groceries.”

You get to choose the life you live. And, every minute, you have the opportunity to make a different choice. Every minute, you could say, “Today, I will eat defrosted turnip soup and think about the time I felt left out at my friend’s wedding.”

Our smartphones have become Swiss army knife–like appliances that include a dictionary, calculator, web browser, email, Game Boy, appointment calendar, voice recorder, guitar tuner, weather forecaster, GPS, texter, tweeter, Facebook updater, and flashlight. They’re more powerful and do more things than the most advanced computer at IBM corporate headquarters 30 years ago.

And we use them all the time, part of a 21st-century mania for cramming everything we do into every single spare moment of downtime. We text while we’re walking across the street, catch up on email while standing in a queue – and while having lunch with friends, we surreptitiously check to see what our other friends are doing. At the kitchen counter, cosy and secure in our domicile, we write our shopping lists on smartphones while we are listening to that wonderfully informative podcast on urban beekeeping.

But there’s a fly in the ointment. Although we think we’re doing several things at once, multitasking, this is a powerful and diabolical illusion.

Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention, says that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

So we’re not actually keeping a lot of balls in the air like an expert juggler; we’re more like a bad amateur plate spinner, frantically switching from one task to another, ignoring the one that is not right in front of us but worried it will come crashing down any minute. Even though we think we’re getting a lot done, ironically, multitasking makes us demonstrably less efficient.

To make matters worse, lots of multitasking requires decision-making: Do I answer this text message or ignore it?
How do I respond to this? How do I file this email? Do I continue what I’m working on now or take a break?

It turns out that decision-making is also very hard on your neural resources and that little decisions appear to take up as much energy as big ones. One of the first things we lose is impulse control. This rapidly spirals into a depleted state in which, after making lots of insignificant decisions, we can end up making truly bad decisions about something important. Why would anyone want to add to their daily weight of information processing by trying to multitask?

In discussing information overload with Fortune 500 leaders, top scientists, writers, students, and small business owners, email comes up again and again as a problem. It’s not a philosophical objection to email itself, it’s the mind-numbing number of emails that come in.

When the 10-year-old son of my neuroscience colleague Jeff Mogil (head of the Pain Genetics lab at McGill University) was asked what his father does for a living, he responded, “He answers emails.” Jeff admitted after some thought that it’s not so far from the truth. Workers in government, the arts, and industry report that the sheer volume of email they receive is overwhelming, taking a huge bite out of their day. We feel obliged to answer our emails, but it seems impossible to do so and get anything else done.

Before email, if you wanted to write to someone, you had to invest some effort in it. You’d sit down with pen and paper, or at a typewriter, and carefully compose a message. There wasn’t anything about the medium that lent itself to dashing off quick notes without giving them much thought, partly because of the ritual involved, and the time it took to write a note, find and address an envelope, add postage, and take the letter to a mailbox.

Because the very act of writing a note or letter to someone took this many steps, and was spread out over time, we didn’t go to the trouble unless we had something important to say. Because of email’s immediacy, most of us give little thought to typing up any little thing that pops in our heads and hitting the send button. And email doesn’t cost anything.

This uncertainty wreaks havoc with our rapid perceptual categorisation system, causes stress, and leads to decision overload. Every email requires a decision! Do I respond to it? If so, now or later? How important is it? What will be the social, economic, or job-related consequences if I don’t answer, or if I don’t answer right now?
‘Because it is limited in characters, texting discourages thoughtful discussion or any level of detail, and its addictive problems are compounded by its hyper-immediacy.’

‘Because it is limited in characters, texting discourages thoughtful discussion or any level of detail, and its addictive problems are compounded by its hyper-immediacy.’

Now of course email is approaching obsolescence as a communicative medium. Most people under the age of 30 think of email as an outdated mode of communication used only by “old people”. In its place they text, and some still post to Facebook. They attach documents, photos, videos, and links to their text messages and Facebook posts the way people over 30 do with email. Many people under 20 now see Facebook as a medium for the older generation.

“It is so plain and so simple. Yet everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” Alan Watts, philosopher

What Alan Watts points out above is that we are lucky to enjoy the gift of life but we still keep on rushing around looking for it. We don’t get to realize that life is already in us. We are life: we breathe, feel and we are enough as we are.

People tend to think about life in two different ways.

Some people think they are going to live long enough and have the luxury to postpone things: once, twice or so many times that it tends to become a way of living.

Others believe that life is short and they don’t have the time to fit everything they like in it anyway. So, why care?

If the first category gave you a flick of recognition, you must have experienced that feeling which urges you to postpone things or situations. And the odds say that you might still experience it. You might think that you will do something in the future, you will make that trip you always wanted, you will quit your job to pursue your dream as a writer, you will be the person you always wanted to. You will be happy.

You seem to place all your desires and dreams in the future and expect that things will change someday but not now. By thinking that the next moment contains what this one lacks, your future lies on uncertainty.

Time passes without realizing, without you having enjoyed the ‘now and today’.

And there comes a day when, with snowy white hair and wrinkles on your face, you say “I wish I had tried dancing” or “I could have pursued my dream of becoming a teacher”. “Why didn’t I do it? I had all the time in the world.”

I’ll tell you why. Because you forget your mortality. You forget that you are here for a specific amount of time and that, someday, your life will come to an end.

I haven’t got any white hair yet, neither any wrinkles on my face and I don’t know how it feels when you come to that point in your life when you realize you wasted your time by doing things you didn’t really want to or by not doing things you wanted to. But I assure you that I don’t want to find out.

If you tend to think that your life is short and you can’t possibly fit everything in it, allow me to tell you that you’re wrong. Life is not short, we make it short.

Lisa Whelen

I lost a very good friend recently, Lisa Whelen, an amazing lady, so positive about life with a sixth sense of caring and love for everyone.

I was fortunate to know Lisa, we collaborated on my chapter for The Realization Foundation, Scars to Stars Volume 3.
I also wrote about Lisa’s book (‘Jo March’ being her pen-name) ‘Love is… simple’

Her career started in music working with The Petshop Boys and Oasis, before branching out into film. She was an excellent actress, and scriptwriter before coming an author.

After a near-fatal accident, Lisa was left immobilized, even considering suicide – yet, she defied doctors who said she would never walk again.

She was fortunate to meet Hratch Ogali, claiming to have saved a girl who hadn’t walked for twelve years. He told her: “I’m going to get you back on your feet and you will walk again, there is no doubt.” Miraculously, Hratch saved her life and Lisa was able to walk again.

Lisa being Lisa, she wanted to give back to the world and created a television programme, a film called Mind Over Science to help others who are in the situation she was in.

She worked all over the world with Hratch and his son Seto, helping others in energy healing and wellbeing.

She unfortunately died of Cancer at age 53, such a loss of a incredible person on 18th January 2024

I know Lisa will be out of the severe pain that she has endured, it’s sad to think that such a wonderful person has died, she gave 200% commitment to everyone, a very special person.

Life is short. She will always be in my prayers.

In the words of Dr Colin Murray-Parkes: “The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.”

In a world where the amount of stress one heaps on oneself can be seen as a badge of honour, we need to recognise the ways of reducing the potential negative impact of exhaustion and mindfulness is a great place to start. It allows us to take a step back and refresh our perspective on the world, to decide on a better response to the challenges we face, and to really focus. Neuroscientists have proven that no matter how good we are, our brains are simply not capable of operating effectively on more than one complex task at a time.

The fact that we are all intrinsically connected is not some fluffy principle someone made up, it is something which you can experience right now in your daily life. But the way we usually live our lives in this heavily technological environment our awareness and individual senses are hovering right below the signs so to speak. So, we rarely, if ever, see it.

We live in a post-truth world. The problem is in the technological world of information and importantly the way we humans communicate via online and collaboration tools and apps, do we communicate the truth?

It takes courage to be the person you really are. There really is no magic pill or solution to make this happen, especially in a world that constantly sends you messages about who you should be. All of this talk takes you away from being true to yourself. It leads you to live the life you think others want you to have.

This way of living takes you away from authenticity and truth. You ignore your desires and retort to what’s not even a best second on what you truly want to do or the person you really want to be.

This single realisation can change the way we live our entire life’s. From the way you treat others, to what you devote your time to, to the products you consume, and the causes you support.

Having understanding and interests, we can join together in a common purpose. This idea is similar to the way different components of the human body fit together to form a whole healthy body. Each part depends on the others as long as they are not diseased, for the whole to function properly.

The million-dollar question is do we want to be One, Whole and live in Truth… If not, our lives can be very short. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you enjoy every bit of it.

Annie Dillard:

“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”

Our life is made by moments and moments fill our days. Let’s make the most out of them, as the famous Oscar Wilde once said “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring.” And makes life’s journey all the more worthwhile. To experience love is to have lived.

Finally, Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, said on the meaning of life:

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life, but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

Rethinking the Purpose and Trust of Leadership

Over the past five years, there’s been an explosion of interest in purpose-driven leadership. Academics, business experts, and even doctors make the case that purpose is a key to exceptional leadership and the pathway to greater well-being.

Despite this growing understanding, however, a big challenge remains. Few leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose, research and experience show, and even fewer can distill their purpose into a concrete statement or have a clear plan for translating purpose into action. As a result, they limit their aspirations and often fail to achieve their most ambitious professional and personal goals.

To harness the power of corporate purpose, CEOs and other senior executives must pressure-test that purpose with their teams, employees—and themselves.

But what does that really mean, and does it make a difference?

There’s been considerable interest in the notion of “purposeful” and “purpose-driven” leaders and organisations in recent years, driven by growing levels of distrust and disillusionment with what are often regarded as the short-termism, financial imperatives driving contemporary firms. Typically, the attributes of purposeful organisations – societal responsibility, values and ethics – are simply translated into the qualities that characterise their ideal leaders. But what type of leaders do purposeful organisations really need?

Purpose is an aspirational reason for being that inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation, its partners, stakeholders, and society as a whole. Strategic research has consistently shown that purpose enables organisations to perform well in times of volatility. The research joins a growing body of evidence demonstrating that a strong and active purpose raises employee engagement and acts as a unifier, makes customers more loyal and committed to working with you, and helps to frame effective decision making in an environment of uncertainty. The EY Global Leadership Forecast 2018 found that getting purpose right builds organisational resilience and, crucially, improves long-term financial performance.

Don’t assume a lack of discussion equals agreement. Don’t assume that your organization’s purpose is good enough, goes far enough, or that your colleagues even see eye to eye about it. Have the courage to participate in tough discussions and learn where things stand.

Independent research from Linkage found connections between purposeful leaders and business results: The companies they led had 2.5 times higher sales growth, four times higher profit growth, five times higher “competitive differentiation and innovation” scores, and nine times higher employee engagement scores. Companies that create lasting leadership impact differentially invest in developing purposeful leaders; and they take concrete steps to assess the organisational dynamics that shape leadership performance.

So exactly what is Purposeful Business Leader?

My extensive research into the subject came up with the following structure of what makes a Purposeful Leader:
 Purposeful leadership and its constituent components – moral self, commitment to stakeholders and vision – are important in influencing a range of employee outcomes, including intent to quit, job satisfaction, willingness to go the extra mile, sales performance and lower levels of cynicism. Alongside this, ethical leadership approaches also emerge as central for employees’ experience of their work. Employers should consider ways of creating and embedding a purposeful and ethical approach throughout the organisation.
 Vision is especially important for employees and leaders alike to provide a sense of direction to guide activities. However, multiple or conflicting visions can emerge over time and in different departments or units, causing a sense of confusion and uncertainty, and so organisations should aim for alignment around a set of core themes.
 There is much that organisations can do to foster an environment conducive to purposeful and ethical leadership; appropriate central policies, leader role-modelling, training and development, and the organisational values and culture can nurture purposeful leaders. 41
 Constraints in organisations revolve around time and resource pressures, unrealistic targets, communication errors such as over-communication, remoteness of the centre, and cultural factors such as risk-aversion. When seeking to develop a purposeful approach to leadership, organisations should attend to issues such as these that may sabotage their efforts.
 Organisations tend to focus on a limited range of stakeholders and discount others from their decision-making. However, this can lead to an imbalance in how the organisation relates to its wider setting.

Leadership is central to transformation success. Companies with a systematic and well-supported approach to activate leaders see transformation success rates that are three times higher than those of their competitors. Yet leader engagement has decreased significantly since the pandemic—a drop of roughly 40% in two years.

The current business environment creates a paradox for leaders. Increased complexity and volatility mean that companies face a constant need for change. Yet the accelerating pace of business means that CEOs often struggle to manage complex transformation programs. Success requires a new approach to leadership—research shows that CEO engagement has a dramatic impact on transformation success. Aligning leadership with a powerful purpose is one of six attributes empirically identified as an essential component of short- and medium-term company performance.

Leaders of future-built companies are generative across the head, heart, and hands—as one team. The head refers to reinventing business to serve people, planet, society, and shareholders; the heart involves inspiring and enriching the human experience; and the hands entails executing and innovating through supercharged teams. Among companies that fully engage the head, heart, and hands, 96% see a sustained performance improvement, compared with just 33% that partially engage.

Leaders focus on a purpose that goes beyond the bottom line. Increasingly, leaders need to develop an authentic purpose to create value for people, for society and for the planet—not just investors. Moreover, they must embed environmental, social, and governance (ESG) into their overall strategy, not keep it off to the side.

Companies face common barriers. A shift in C-suite behaviours can help organizations drive faster end-to-end, cross-functional outcomes and overcome common barriers around near-sighted business targets, insufficient funding, and business unit misalignment. Building and scaling generative leadership across the organization and beyond the C-suite requires following a set of six key principles—relevance, impact, flexibility, integration, immersion, and coaching.

The Next Steps for Leaders

Building a reinvention for leadership is a process. Building for the future through leadership is a process that takes continued effort over time. Yet it pays financial and nonfinancial benefits as companies move up in terms of their maturity.

Many organizations mistakenly neglect the heart aspect of transformation. Leading with the heart is the most valuable to employees, but leaders most commonly neglect this dimension. Starting with a purpose and spearheading authentic ESG efforts are foundational to the leading with the heart, both with high impact across people and business results.

Purpose has power. The key to leadership from the heart and the head begins with a purpose among the top three success factors for transformation, having a clear purpose ranks first. Purpose aligns every element of the business; it is how employees see themselves as part of something bigger, regardless of their role. Purpose has tremendous impact when done well—companies with a clear purpose have 8% less turnover, a two-fold increase in productivity, and 3.25 times the involvement in transformation initiatives. Perhaps most important: they are twice as likely to have a high TSR.

Let’s now look at some of the most recognised model leaders from the past:

The Ability to Initiate Change — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Good leaders are never satisfied with the status quo and usually take action to change it. In addition, strong leaders bring about change for the common good by involving others in the process. Roosevelt. sought practical ways to help struggling men and women make a better world for themselves and their children.

His philosophy was, “bold, persistent experimentation…Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Being willing to take risks by trying new ideas and involving others in the process of change is a key quality of strong leaders.

Inspiring a Shared Vision — The Leadership of Martin Luther King

Leaders, through their words and actions, must have the ability to draw others into a common vision by telling others where they intend to go and urging them to join in that vision.
Martin Luther King’s vision of a country free from racial segregation and discrimination, so poignantly expressed in his famous “I have a dream…” speech, exemplifies this critical leadership trait. King had a vision of a better America, and his ability to bring both whites and blacks together to march against segregation changed America profoundly.

Model Leadership — Mohandas K. Gandhi

Strong leaders not only need to have a vision and the ability to initiate change, but they must also model the values, actions, and behaviors necessary to make the vision reality. Gandhi not only created and espoused the philosophies of passive resistance and constructive non-violence, but he also lived by these principles.

According to Indira Gandhi, “More than his words, his life was his message.” By choosing to consistently live and work in a manner that exemplified the values he believed in, Gandhi engendered trust, becoming a role model for others looking to affect change without resorting to violence.

Encouraging the Heart — The Leadership of Winston Churchill

On December 29, 1940, London was hit by one of the largest aerial attacks of World War II. Somehow, St. Paul’s Cathedral survived. Two days later a photo showing a silhouette of the dome of St. Paul’s, surrounded by smoke and flames ran in the paper with a caption that read, “It symbolises the steadiness of London’s stand against the enemy: the firmness of right against wrong.”

Churchill recognized the importance of St. Paul’s as a morale booster. His instructions were clear on that December night, “At all costs, St. Paul’s must be saved.”

Rewriting The Laws of Nature For The Betterment of Humanity – Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein is perhaps the most famous scientist of the 20th century. The prized physicist had a profound impact on our understanding of the universe, including basic concepts such as time, light and gravity.

To this day, his work is being used to guide physicists to new frontiers, helping us to understand our significance on the grandest scale.

In addition to his timeless quotes and deep sense of humour, Einstein is remembered for overcoming adversity. His ability to keep a positive attitude and provoke creative thought experiments were at the centre of his genius. More than 60 years after his death, the world remembers not a man who spent years working at a patent office, but a man who changed the world.

The Embodiment of Liberty and Great Emancipator of Slaves – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was more than just an American hero; he represented the dawn of a new era in human civilization based on freedom, self-government and equality.

Lincoln rapidly modernized the economy without sacrificing his values. By 1860, he secured the Republican Party presidential nomination and was elected president. Lincoln’s victory prompted southern slave states to form the Confederate States of America.

To this day, Lincoln is synonymous with the principles of liberty, democracy, equal rights and unification.
His willingness to stand alone on issues he believed in made him one of the most beloved and memorable leaders in modern history.

The Physicist Who Proved That Determination and Positive Thinking Can Triumph Over Even The Most Severe Limitations – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking probably had every reason to give up on life.

Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21, he would spend most of his life severely disabled to the point where he controls his communication device through movement of his cheek muscles.

Despite his debilitating condition, Hawking became arguably the most well-known theoretical physicist since Albert Einstein. Hawking is known for his groundbreaking work on cosmology, quantum physics and black holes.

Hawking came from humble beginnings. The eldest of 4 children, Stephen was born in England during the Second World War. By his own admission, Hawking didn’t spend a lot of time studying.

That didn’t stop him from graduating with full honours before pursuing a PhD in cosmology at Cambridge University.

Much has been written about Hawking and his thought-provoking theories on the universe. He has received worldwide acclaim not only for his work, but for his determination in overcoming a severe disability.

When he was originally diagnosed with ALS, he was given only two years to live. That was over 50 years ago. On overcoming his disability.

Hawking’s attitude comes from his sheer refusal to make excuses for his disabilities. His ex-wife Jane Hawking attributed his outlook on the world to a combination of determination and stubbornness. As Hawking clearly demonstrates, both traits have their pedigree.

Leaders must be able to encourage the hearts of those who share their vision, providing a sense of confident optimism even in the face of enormous difficulties.

Traditional skills have not been supplanted but they now co-exist and very visually have survived with a mix of new factors, in your mind was Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln or Stephen Hawking a Purposeful Leader?

When creating an organisational shared purpose the essential questions to ask are:

What is the shared purpose that;
 Articulates a clear purpose for your organisation. Focus on answering the why questions. We all know what our organisations do. Purpose is about asking why we exist in the first place, what our employees and stakeholders care about, and what resonates with customers.
 Use purpose as a lens for everything you do. Let purpose guide the solutions you offer, how you treat your customers, and how you engage your workforce.
 Communicate success stories to all constituents. Stories perpetuate purpose. Each time people repeat them, purpose entwines more closely with day-to-day business.
 Integrate purpose into the company’s DNA. Reinforce purpose through the day-to-day customer and employee experience. Treat purpose as a commitment to stakeholders and publicly update on its progress.
 Focus on leaders. Help them develop their own “why.” Work with all leaders to articulate their own purpose as it relates to the overarching purpose for the business. Then, help them do the same for their teams and employees.
 Develop key skills. Purpose-driven leaders form teams, inspire, and motivate in a fast-changing world. They develop psychological safety and agility.

Uncovering authentic organisational purpose can come quite simply from finding ways to be of service. What’s needed today is for all leaders to look beyond profit and ask, ‘What do I have that could help someone right now?

Where can I practice abundance where there is short supply?’

Organisations will be changed by their actions to make a difference in these times of crisis. Connecting with employees at a human level as we enter into one another’s home offices and living rooms, meeting children and pets on the screen, is organically changing and strengthening cultures. It’s happening today by default; tomorrow leaders can shape their cultures with lessons learned by design. Leaders and organisations that count on their core culture and values and make a difference while pivoting to solve for the future will emerge from the fires of this crisis and thrive.

Finally, leadership has got to step up, if you want to save your job in the next 10 years, you need to adopt a balance between IQ, EQ, SI, DI, WI and trust intelligence. Emotional intelligence isn’t just an idea for leadership anymore, it’s a prerequisite for the trust toolbox.

The way to build trust and drive home purpose is to master honest communication and include employees and stakeholders in key decisions.

“We’ve seen fax machines, long emails, instant messaging, all kinds of collaboration tools come, go and sometimes stay. Business is about communicating with purpose, active listening, empathy. More trust has got to be to put into the executive leadership. Trust is the glue.”

The more emotional intelligence leadership teams employ across teams, the more you’ll see an increase in trust because people will see it’s not just words but actions. At IBEM, we commissioned a trust report back in January 2020. Even before I commissioned the research, I knew what to expect.

“69% of everyone surveyed said they don’t trust CEO or line manager.”

I would take that as applicable across all business and commerce. We’ve got to communicate more, build trust within organisations more. We can’t deliver anything without fixing this problem.

Inclusion of people into the decision-making process helps cement purpose and values.”

Vincent Thomas Lombardi was an American football coach and executive in the National Football League, who once said:

“A team is not a group of people who play together, a team is a group of people who trust each other.”

The continued success of my 5th book, Purposeful Discussions, was published across some of the biggest issues in business today, purpose driven outcomes, which lead to my 6th book, The Trust Paradigm.

The best business leaders begin by framing trust in economic terms for their companies. The best leaders focus on making the creation of trust an explicit objective. Like any other goal, it must be measured and improved. It must be made clear to everyone that trust matters to management and leadership.

It’s clear from the news that the leaders of some of our most influential governments and corporations are making morally questionable decisions. These decisions will lose the trust of society, customers, and employees.

No amount of electronic communication – staff intranet, corporate social media, marketing emails – will fix this, yet many organizations assume this can replace meaningful dialogue even though this is the only real means of building trust and high-functioning #relationships.

Pathway to The Trust Paradigm

You can order your copy of the book on all formats now Amazon: audible hardback kindle softback


Or visit #TheTrustParadigmBook website:

Focus in Leadership

Corporate leaders today are measured by a new yardstick. The supreme test of a CEO and board of directors is now the value they create not just for shareholders, but for all stakeholders.

The shift to stakeholder capitalism creates pressure for corporate leaders to try to satisfy a wide range of constituencies with different, sometimes conflicting interests and perspectives. Earning their trust is key to navigating this tricky terrain.

Research shows that trust is the key to success. Yet growing distrust, cynicism and misinformation are eroding confidence in corporate impact and Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) claims.

To prosper in the age of stakeholder capitalism, companies must actively cultivate the trust of employees, investors, customers, regulators and corporate partners: developing strategies to understand these stakeholders more intimately, implementing deliberate trust-building actions, tracking their efforts over time, and communicating openly and effectively with key stakeholder groups.

We have entered the trust era: a time where (mis)information is omnipresent, individual perceptions reign supreme, and digital security and data privacy are constantly threatened. Now more than ever, stakeholders expect organizations to do the right things and do them well.

These expectations range from entrusting an organization to safeguard one’s private data to requiring a company to have a strong stance on Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) issues.

Trust also drives performance. When stakeholders trust an organization, their behaviors will reflect that trust can affect more traditional key performance indicators that directly affect financial performance. Trust elevates customer and brand loyalty, which can lead to revenue. It enhances levels of workforce engagement, which can result in increased productivity and retention. And the data confirms it.

Trustworthy companies outperform non-trustworthy companies by 2.5 times, and 88% of customers who highly trust a brand will buy again from that brand. Furthermore, employees’ Trust in their leaders improves job performance, job satisfaction, and commitment to the organization and its mission.

Despite the data, however, many leaders and organizations still view trust as an abstract concept. Trust should be managed proactively because, when trust is prioritized and acted upon, it can become a competitive advantage. An organization that positions trust as a strategic priority—managing, measuring, investing in, and acting upon it can ultimately build a critical asset.

No heroic leader can resolve the complex challenges we face today. To address the important issues of our time we need a fundamental change of perspective. We need to start questioning many of our taken-for-granted assumptions about our business and social environments.

Leaders serve as role models for their followers and demonstrate the behavioral boundaries set within an organization. The appropriate and desired behavior is enhanced through the culture and socialization process of the newcomers.

Employees learn about values from watching leaders in action.

The more the leader “walks the talk”, by translating internalized values into action, the higher level of trust and respect he generates from followers.

A good case study is Disney – it strives to design work environments that inspire optimism and drive innovation for all employees, at all levels. And because of this recognize that maintaining an inclusive, supportive workplace requires mindful attention and intention, we continually adapt to the evolving needs of its people. The company’s intention is to put the responsibility for an inclusive culture in the hands of its leaders and employees through comprehensive education and engagement efforts.

We all watched Walt Disney Company (DIS) shares soared last week after the company released its fiscal first-quarter 2024 earnings. The stock had its best day in over three years after the company made a flurry of announcements and markets got a sense that CEO Bob Iger’s turnaround plan has started to show results on the ground.

Since returning to Disney, Bob Iger has inspired hope among employees and investors that he could turn around the entertainment giant — and faced tough challenges, people were a large part of the strategy that gave rise to the changes in fortunes.

To help bridge the trust gap we recognise that organizations need to work with each other and with wider society to identify practicable, actionable steps that businesses can take to shape a new relationship with wider society: a new ‘settlement’ based on mutual understanding and a shared recognition of the positive role that business plays in people’s lives.

To create such a settlement, businesses need to see themselves as part of a diverse, interconnected, and interdependent ecosystem – one that involves government, regulators, individual citizens, and more. Trust within and across this ecosystem is key to its long-term sustainability and survival.

That’s why trust needs to be restored to the heart of the business world.

Has Technology taken the Magic out of the Air?


The London transport system commonly renowned for ‘The Tube’ and ‘Mind the Gap’ reliably transports 1.34 billion people a year across its network and the busiest train station in London is Waterloo station which commutes 95.1 million passengers a year (research provided by transport for London http://tflgov.uk). The most common factor in any commuters possession is a mobile device, catching up of online dating, Facebook, LinkedIn, email or an embarrassing phone call for everyone to hear to the date, girlfriend/boyfriend, wife/husband about what is wrong with the relationship.

The facts, do we actually have time for our most precious relationships, do we give the time to build lasting, loving relationships around trust and values or do we constantly feel we can always do better with the latest API or technology app?

As children, we are taught that there will be one true love and that they’re going to solve all our problems and we’ll be happy forever, we are taught to wait for our perfect fit. But that’s not really how it works, is it?

Staggering advances in technology, communications and sciences across the world is one of the defining aspects of the last few decades. From social media websites to free video calling services from anywhere in the world just being a phone’s click away it would appear that the millennial generation has it all. But if we move past all the smartphones and gadgets and websites and take a hard look at the lives of Gen Y, we will notice that dating has become harder than ever.

Some people find it easy to fall in love, others not so much. We tend to fall in love with people who meet a certain criteria in our mind. This subconscious criterion is based on our past experiences, relationship with our parents or events that have happened in our lives. Based on each individual’s subconscious criterion, the reasons vary from person to person on why it’s so hard to fall in love.
When you think about it, despite feeling difficult, the problems people struggle with in dating sound pretty trivial.

For instance, we have been walking and talking our entire lives, yet walking up to an attractive person and opening our mouths to say “hi” can feel impossibly complex to us. People have been using a phone since they were children, yet given the agony some go through just to dial a person’s phone number, you would think they were being waterboarded. Most of us have kissed someone before and we have seen hundreds of movies and instances in real life of other people kissing, yet we still stare dreamily into the object of our affection’s eyes hour after hour, telling ourselves we can never find the “right moment” to do it.

Why? It sounds simple, but why is it so hard?

We build businesses, write novels, scale mountains, help strangers and friends alike through difficult times, tackle the thorniest of the world’s social ills — and yet, when we come face-to-face with someone we find attractive, our hearts race and our minds are sent reeling. And we stall.

Dating advice often compares improving one’s dating life to improving at some practical skill, such as playing piano or learning a foreign language. Sure, there are some overlapping principles, but it’s hard to imagine most people trembling with anxiety every time they sit in front of the keyboard. And I have never met someone who became depressed for a week after failing to conjugate a verb correctly. They are just not the same.

Generally speaking, if someone practices piano daily for two years, they will eventually become quite competent at it. Yet many people spend most of their lives with one romantic failure after another.


What is it about this one area of life that the most basic actions can feel impossible, that repetitive behaviour often leads to little or no change, and that our psychological defense mechanisms run rampant trying to convince us to not pursue what we want?

Why dating and not, say, skiing? Or even our careers? Why is it that a person can conquer the corporate ladder, become a militant CEO, demanding and receiving the respect and admiration of hundreds of brilliant minds, and then flounder through a simple dinner date with a beautiful stranger?

As children, none of us get 100% of our needs met. This is true of you. It is true of me. It is true of everyone. The degree of which our needs are not met varies widely, and the nature of how our needs are unfulfilled differs as well. But it is the sad truth about growing up: we have all got baggage. And some of us have a lot of it. Whether it is a parent who did not hold us enough, who didn’t feed us regularly enough, a father who was not around often, a mother who left us and moved away, being forced to move from school to school as a child and never having friends — all of these experiences leave their mark as a series of micro-traumas that shape and define us.

The nature and depth of these traumas imprint themselves onto our unconscious and become the map of how we experience love, intimacy and sex throughout our lives.

Psychologists believe that romantic love occurs when our unconscious becomes exposed to someone who matches the archetype of parental love we experienced growing up, someone whose behaviour matches our emotional map for intimacy. Our unconscious is always seeking to return to the unconditional nurturing we received as children, and to re-process and heal the traumas we suffered.
In short, our unconscious is wired to seek out romantic interests who it believes will fulfill our unfulfilled emotional needs, to fill in the gaps of the love and nurturing we missed out on as kids. This is why the people we fall in love with almost always resemble our parents on an emotional level.

The attributes that have come to define us and the overexposure that the 21st century human is subjected to leaves no dearth of psychological problems. More and more people each year are diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety problems. This becomes a detriment when it comes to dating. With dissatisfying home, office or academic environments the relationship in many cases become the dumping ground for emotional baggage.

While sometimes it is good to share and spell out feelings as they stand, it is not healthy to keep using your date as an emotional crutch over and over again. It is therefore advisable to work on your trust, abandonment or other issues before embarking on healthy dating choices.

We as human beings have a nasty tendency to crave for more in every aspect of our lives. Before we desire more, we have to learn to be grateful with what we already posses, only that is going to help us obtain more.

Life is confusing, and dating nowadays is more confusing than it has ever been.

Everyone is a commitment-phobe, everyone has attachment issues, no one takes anything seriously.

Maybe there aren’t any right or wrong answers, maybe nothing is black or white. Maybe life is just a big grey blob and you’re meant to create your own rules as you go along; not what that dating book said, or the advice your friends or your therapist gave you.

The fact of the matter is, romance isn’t dead – we’re just in danger of neglecting it. My advice? Visit your Grandmother and Grandfather and have them re-tell stories of how she was wooed by your grandfather; how they spent evenings dancing on the kitchen tiles and how a love note said it way better than a sweeping 140-character tweet.

Brené Brown puts these words into great prospective:

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

Design led innovation… the driver of accelerated economic growth

President John F. Kennedy once observed that the word “crisis” in Chinese is composed of two characters; one representing danger, the other opportunity. He may not have been entirely correct on the linguistics, but the sentiment is true enough: a crisis presents a choice.

This is particularly true today.

How are executives responding? As might be expected, they are largely focusing on maintaining business continuity, especially in their core. Executives must weigh cutting costs, driving productivity, and implementing safety measures against supporting innovation-led growth.

Unsurprisingly, investments in innovation are suffering. The executives in a recent survey by McKinsey & Company showed that they strongly believe that they will return to innovation-related initiatives once the world has stabilized, the core business is secure, and the path forward is clearer. However, only a quarter reported that capturing new growth was a top priority (first- or second-order) today, compared to roughly 60 percent before the crisis hit

Possibly the most important discussion around business today, design lead creativity and innovation is about spearheading business reinvention and the disruptive economy.

Innovation, the successful implementation of new ideas, is an important driver of economic growth.

Successful innovation creates customer value through new products, services and processes, giving rise to new markets and economic growth, as well as contributing to higher productivity, lower costs, increased profits and employment. The central role of innovation in creating future prosperity and quality of life is widely acknowledged and accepted. Innovation drives long-term economic growth, and states that:

Innovation… has long been viewed as central to economic performance and social welfare and empirical evidence has confirmed the link between innovation and growth. This means that all businesses must understand the importance of innovation and develop an innovation culture to strengthen its efforts and outcomes. In addition to its growing importance and profile, innovation culture has also evolved in line with developing thinking about the scope and nature of innovation in a disruptive economy.

There is a huge gap between aspiration and reality, McKinsey & Company yearly global CEO report show that 84% of world leaders are still operating in a horizon 1 strategy. Leaders who use vision to navigate the future often employ strategy to help them steer their organizations more effectively toward its destination.

To lead with vision, however, requires a fine balance among what matters today, what we anticipate will matter tomorrow, and how we can create the future through inspired, collective effort. There are three horizons that leaders should understand to ensure that vision unfolds as one would hope. To define the horizon thinking:
• Horizon 1 ideas provide continuous innovation to a company’s existing business model and core capabilities in the short-term.
• Horizon 2 ideas extend a company’s existing business model and core capabilities to new customers, markets, or targets.
• Horizon 3 is the creation of new capabilities and new business to take advantage of or respond to disruptive opportunities or to counter disruption.

Leaders need to see beyond the short termism, uncertainty and address the risks while finding the opportunities in digital disruption, the economy, and geopolitical uncertainties, this requires a horizon 2 and horizon 3 approach. CEO’s are the company’s ultimate strategist.

Less well understood is that she/he is also the ultimate integrator, charged with identifying the issues that span the enterprise and formulating a response that brings all the right resources to bear. To do that well requires a broad range of contradictory perspectives: outside in and inside out; a telescope to see the world and a microscope to break it down; a snapshot view of the immediate issues and a time-lapse series to see into the future with the right lens.

Throughout the world, organizations are seeking ways to streamline their processes and improve employee experiences. One way that is presenting itself as the ultimate panacea to enhancing the customer journey is to create dialectical leadership’ and ‘distributed leadership’ and combine them depending on the situation, to achieve a balance between various contradictory elements such as the ‘tug-of-war between efficiency and creativity’, and demonstrate organizational adaptability.

While strong communication is critical for teams to succeed, businesses need cross-departmental collaboration to move the needle and achieve their overarching goals There is a name for this approach—a holistic growth strategy. The goal of a holistic growth strategy is to unite every department to work together as one cohesive unit. While each team has a different specialty, people complete their tasks with the bigger picture at the forefront of their minds. Each employee will understand and be focused on how their work contributes to the company’s holistic goals, like scaling, boosting return on investment (ROI) and retaining customers. Driving sustainable, inclusive growth requires the right mindset, strategy, and capabilities.

Here are some steps that could help foster successful growth. Companies are now shifting away from that kind of mindset in favour of a more holistic approach. The latter involves considering the impact that every change is going to have on the entire organization, and not just specific functions or departments. The reason behind this approach is to attain a business transformation that is embedded in the very culture of the organization; is aligned with the organization’s purpose, and embraced equally by every single employee– not just enforced upon members by the managers. Such a shift means that the organization holds employees and leaders across each department accountable for their roles in the success of the business. An organization that takes a disjointed approach to implement technology only risks having a section of its employees lacking the skills needed to keep up with today’s fast-paced, disruptive and dynamic business environment.

In my experience, innovative cultures start with a philosophy and a tone one analogous to the classic parenting advice that children need both “roots and wings.” As an innovation leader, you must ground creative people in accountability for the organization’s objectives, key focus areas, core capabilities, and commitments to stakeholders. Then you give them broad discretion to conduct their work in service of those parameters. Obsessing too much about budget and deadlines will kill ideas before they get off the ground. Once your scientists understand that they are ultimately accountable for delivering practical products and processes that can be manufactured affordably, you can trust them to not embarrass you by wasting a lot of money and effort.

This trust helps forge an innovation culture. Innovation parenting also pays attention to innovators’ social development. Millennials, in particular, will expect and seek out opportunities to interact with people who interest and excite them exchanges that should, in turn, build innovation energy. To help individuals see where their work fits in the knowledge ecosystem, encourage relationships with colleagues in the internal innovation chain, from manufacturing to marketing and distribution. I ask my new hires to generate a list of who’s who at Corning within the first few months on the job. This helps them overcome the assumption that many hold that they must do everything themselves.

That’s nonsense; others within the organization often have already sorted through similar problems. Understanding that early in one’s tenure reduces wasted effort and can inspire new bursts of collaborative creativity. Innovation culture is made up of practices that support and strengthen innovation as a significant aspect of progress and growth. It includes all structures, habits, processes, instructions, pursuits, and incentives that institutions implement to make innovation happen. It values, drives, and supports innovative thinking in order for it to be successful on an organizational level. To fully understand the importance of your company’s innovation culture you need to know how this impacts what employees do or say at work every day. This will help establish specific behaviours within the organization such as communication patterns between departments during meetings or who gets credit for new ideas when they come about.

While most business leaders now believe having a diverse and inclusive culture is critical to performance, they don’t always know how to achieve that goal. Continuous innovation stimulates revenue growth and helps companies perform better during economic downturns. Fixation on top-line growth can skew innovation efforts, resulting only in innovative gains from the low-hanging fruit of incremental growth.
Disruptive innovation is only possible when the entire organization is set up for an innovation mindset, a process that starts with proper leadership training. In this environment, nimble decision-making is a companion to rigorous experimentation. Team members must make the best decisions possible as quickly as required. These decisions must be open to re-examination as new information surfaces.

This means that decisions should be refined on an ongoing basis. The need to be “right” must be set aside in favour of continual learning. What was once called “flip flopping” will now be called “learning.” An example of nimble decision-making is an organization that offers training to help participants combine data-based decision-making with intuitive decision making to leverage the power of both. They make decisions at the appropriate point to support the process of experimentation. When experiments are run, participants learn, and prior decisions will be revisited when appropriate and updated. Leaders and their employees must value adaptability, flexibility, and curiosity.
All of these skills and aptitudes support an individual’s ability to navigate rapid change. Employees must remain flexible and focused on the face of ongoing change. They need the capacity to feel comfortable and supported by their colleagues so that they can adapt to planned and unplanned change with creativity and focus.

Trust is one of the most vital forms of capital a leader has today. Amid economic turbulence and global uncertainty, people are increasingly turning to their employers and business leaders as a source of truth, rather than their institutions and government officials. Trust, which can be defined as a belief in the abilities, integrity, and character of another person, is often thought of as something that personal relationships are built on.

A high-trust organization is one in which employees feel safe to take risks, express themselves freely, and innovate. When trust is instilled in an organization, tasks get accomplished with less difficulty because people are more likely to collaborate and communicate with each other in productive ways. As a result, outcomes tend to be more successful. No heroic leader can resolve the complex challenges we face today. To address the important issues of our time we need a fundamental change of perspective. We need to start questioning many of our taken for granted assumptions about our business and social environment.

Leaders serve as role models for their followers and demonstrate the behavioural boundaries set within an organisation. The appropriate and desired behaviour is enhanced through culture and socialisation process of the newcomers. Employees learn about values from watching leaders in action. The more the leader “walks the talk”, by translating internalized values into action, the higher level of trust and respect he generates from followers. To help bridge the trust gap we recognise that organisations need to work with each other and with wider society to identify practicable, actionable steps that businesses can take to shape a new relationship with wider society: a new ‘settlement’ based on mutual understanding and a shared recognition of the positive role that business plays in people’s lives.

To create such a settlement, businesses need to see themselves as part of a diverse, interconnected and interdependent ecosystem one that involves government, regulators, individual citizens and more. Trust within and across this ecosystem is key to its long-term sustainability and survival. That’s why trust needs to be restored to the heart of the business world.

Positive habit formation is a method that successful athletes have tried and tested. It entails identifying what behaviour is required to achieve a win and establishing a routine to reinforce this. To apply it in business, ask yourself: what consistent actions do I need to start taking that would improve my overall performance? For instance, if meetings with a certain colleague often overrun, it’s worth considering how that time is being used, adopting a more efficient format and then embedding this through repetition. Great performance is as much about the purpose and culture of the organisation. These beliefs are found in the vision, ethos and values, leadership, the strategy and plans, in people, and importantly that people are trusted to make things happen. Reconnecting with your purpose and values will make it possible, when this crisis has passed, to look back with pride at how your company responded.

Culture always matters, but it matters now more than ever. If these core attributes are applied to the business then high-performance leaders must have an overwhelming desire to lead and that the desire to lead must be for the right reasons. It is only through having this overwhelming desire that they will have the emotional energy, enthusiasm, stamina and drive to undertake the unremitting pressure and sustained hard work required to turn an average organisation into a high performing one.

Events have changed our world and the way that we work in an extraordinarily short time. It is becoming increasingly evident that we will have to live with and adapt to these changes for a long time and it is far from certain that we will ever return to life exactly as it was before the pandemic. These changes bring with them great challenges and risks. These are uncharted and difficult waters to navigate. However, in our view there are also great opportunities, and these challenges can be met where leaders are able to move from a crisis management mindset to thinking about how to run their businesses differently, with a strong focus on culture.

Company’s that get this wrong run the risk of poor conduct, low staff morale and ultimately, weak future performance. However, those that find ways to nudge behaviours in the right direction have the chance to build business models and resilient cultures that adapt to the new circumstances with positive outcomes for customers, employees and investors.

It’s important to have a holistic strategy that enables people to work effectively with colleagues regardless of location. Key to this is a shared purpose and a sense of cohesion. This strategy should be driven from the top and include all teams. Equip and trust your people to build and use capabilities that suit them. Provide support from a mental wellbeing perspective help people find ways of working and connections that work best for them in this new world of work. AI can be used to help employees make better decisions and focus on higher-value tasks, whilst also boosting inclusivity and sparking creativity.

Your people are the heartbeat of your business. Leaders must ensure people have the right skills and technology to succeed and the ability to innovate wherever and however they work. They must meet the needs of every individual embracing diversity in all forms. An effective culture gives people not only the means to be productive but the drive to innovate, adapt, and progress. Support the workplace with technologies that suit remote, office, and frontline workers while keeping them secure. Organisations need an integrated and intelligent approach to security, powered by the cloud and AI. Customer trust is everything. Therefore, ensuring employees have access to the information they need, wherever they are, whilst maintaining security, privacy, and regulatory compliance is vital. Key to the hybrid workplace is human centred design and complemented is a technology platform that allows strategic direction and a strong culture.

Finally, the essential practices underpinning distinctive innovation have not changed in this time of crisis, but the relative emphasis and urgency of where businesses should focus has.

Above all, organizations need to realize that innovation, now more than ever, is a choice. Regardless of the relative emphasis and order, which for years have helped leading innovators more than double the total returns to shareholders compared to laggards, will continue to be critical in navigating and emerging even stronger from this crisis.

As Tim Brown, former CEO of IDEO, once said:

“The transformation of a business-as-usual culture into one focused on innovation and driven by design involves activities, decisions, and attitudes. Workshops help expose people to design thinking as a new approach. Pilot projects help market the benefits of design thinking within the organization. Leadership focuses the program of change and gives people permission to learn and experiment. Assembling interdisciplinary teams ensures that the effort is broadly based. Dedicated spaces such as the P&G Innovation Gym provide a resource for longer-term thinking and ensure that the effort will be sustained. Measurement of impacts, both quantitative and qualitative, helps make the business case and ensures that resources are appropriately allocated. It may make sense to establish incentives for business units to collaborate in new ways so that younger talent sees innovation as a path to success rather than as a career risk.”

The Loss of Trust in Tech and Leadership

There is much debate on the management of people, it seems that whatever media source to turn too you will see debate on whether it’s leading a group of people in an office setting, managing teams remotely, or more likely, leading a hybrid workforce, it’s critical for leaders to build and maintain trust with their people.

Leadership trust creates the stable foundation for employees and their organizations to flex, adapt, and thrive in times of continuous change.

The behaviors that build trust are the very behaviors that manage change. Trust building helps teams step into ambiguity, stay committed to managing the unknown with confidence, and embrace change as an opportunity to learn, grow, and do great work together.

Leadership is a competency and a skill set rather than an inherited set of traits that high-performing organisations recognise and prepare their organisation accordingly. Organisations that have high levels of employee engagement enjoy high performance on every key performance indicator from employee turnover to return on investment and shareholder return. Creating an engaged environment is a culture, not a program and must be approached systemically not tactically.

In organisations that means building a common language of leadership at all levels to have an immediate and lasting impact on business results, not just knowledge, wisdom or behaviours.

A bad example of trusted leadership is the chaos that continued to erupt as hoards of employees exited from Twitter/X after Elon Musk’s iron-fisted demands.

So far Musk’s leadership style is headed in the wrong direction. Trust in a leader allows organizations and communities to flourish, while the absence of trust can cause fragmentation, conflict, and even war. That’s why we need to trust our leaders, our family members, our friends and our co-workers, albeit in different ways.

Trust is the new disruptor, one that businesses must master to realize the full power of data and new intelligent technologies.

As businesses and governments transform to meet new challenges, it’s essential to embed Trust Intelligence into the core of their operations.

In the workplace, team psychological safety must be a top priority if businesses want to create a successful enterprise. And, more importantly, psychological safety contributes to an inclusive, diverse, and accepting workplace. A workplace where team members feel safe to express themselves.

It’s crucial to prioritize high psychological safety to create a high-performing team.

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Team cultures reflect the actions and reactions of their leaders. Leaders who fail to establish and support psychologically safe team environments can cause irreparable negative consequences and damage to the organization.

Enterprises powered by trust will be able to deliver on all three transformation drivers: people, technology and innovation. They’ll be able to leapfrog their competitors. To shape new markets.

Leaders must manage with stability and certainty during economic uncertainty, not add more confusion and disruption.
Trust is at the foundation of healthy relationships. At its core, trust is the willingness of one party to be vulnerable to the actions of another.

It is an expectation that two parties will act in a way that is mutually beneficial. For these reasons, trust is a key element of effective communication, teamwork, employee commitment and productivity. It leads to stronger working relationships and a healthier organizational culture.

Placing people at the centre of your corporate culture effort will enable positive shift and unlock long-term value for the organization. Culture work typically follows a major company event commonly a shift in strategy, a new CEO, a merger or acquisition, digital or functional transformation, regulatory changes, increasing calls for inclusivity, or unethical behaviour events.

On the flip side companies sometimes are forced to deal with narcissistic leaders whose behaviour can be relentless and ruthless. So is their legacy: it creates lasting organizational damage.

People embrace low integrity and individualism when both leaders and the company culture support those behaviours. Aligning culture across every level of the organization so that it enables your strategy is essential to moving with agility in a time of unprecedented change.

As external pressure mounts, leaders should take action to create a blueprint for purpose and culture that delivers short- and long-term value for employees, customers and investors. Culture isn’t the soft stuff, it’s the real, human stuff. And it’s time we got that right for each other.

As Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO, Airbnb once said:

“Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.”

Rebuilding Trust in the Aftermath: Addressing Customer Experience and Data Breaches

Co-authored by Geoff Hudson-Searle and Scott Siegel

While the global travel industry keeps striving to cope with the disruption, whether it’s the upsurge in armed conflict, the redrawing of the global energy-resources map, rapid progress in artificial intelligence (ai), or the the increase in cyber security breaches, the world is changing.

Artificial intelligence is becoming less of a possibility and more of a reality for the world, yet the majority of travelers don’t fully trust the technology when it comes to planning and booking travel.

A recent study completed by the National Research Group found that while 49 percent of those who have already utilized AI to help plan their trip found the tool very helpful (think Booking.com’s online chatbot service, which has been in service for a decade), the majority of travelers express concerns about the service.

Travel experiences like flying or going on cruises are still not in recovery. Transportation companies within the tourism industry have seen how their levels of risk escalated since the outbreak of the pandemic. Particularly, the aviation sector faces an ongoing transformation caused by the current disruption that keeps shaping the industry. Airlines have brought higher fares and fewer routes for travellers as well as new safety measures.

To preserve a good reputation, airlines and cruise lines need to reinforce their marketing strategies. This may seem challenging, as both sectors face struggles related with their liquidity levels. However, it is crucial that companies prioritize engaging with customers through innovative and digital content and reinvention.

Cruise lines that prioritize safety and security can successfully build trust with their passengers, who in turn feel confident in their choice of vacation. By implementing comprehensive safety measures, ensuring crew expertise, enhancing onboard security, addressing health and sanitation concerns, and communicating these measures effectively, cruise lines demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their passenger trust.. When passengers feel safe and secure, they can fully enjoy the memorable experiences that travel has to offer.

Today, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing a fellow author and technologist, Scott Siegel, who is an executive visionary technology leader. A trailblazer in advancing neuroscience analytics, he leverages this expertise to unveil deep consumer insights, drive data-driven decision-making, and enhance customer experiences. His leadership extends to championing the adoption of data mesh architecture, enabling scalable and decentralized data ecosystems for improved democratization and agility.

In the travel industry, artificial intelligence (AI) is a key technology used for shaping customer acquisition, retention strategies and establishing / rebuilding trust after a negative customer experience or data breaches. The intricate bond between consumers and service providers within the travel sector, characterized by reliability, transparency, and the assurance of meeting customer expectations, has faced a significant decline in recent years. As the industry grapples with declining trust due to various challenges, AI serves as a multifaceted solution, playing a crucial role in both recovery and sustaining growth by forging lasting connections with customers.

A few notable examples of data breaches in 2023 include:

• Booking.com was the victim of a phishing attack. Cybercriminals gained unauthorized access to customers’ credit card information and started sending deceptive emails to travelers and hotels, posing as Booking.com staff or partners. (TravelDailyNews)

• In addition, American and Southwest Airlines used a third-party vendor to process pilot job applications. The third-party vendor suffered a data breach and at least 8,700 record of sensitive applicant data were exposed. (CPO Magazine)

In the aftermath of a negative customer experience or a data breach, transparent communication is key. Travel organizations must promptly acknowledge the issue, take responsibility, and communicate openly with affected customers. AI can assist in crafting personalized communication strategies, ensuring that affected individuals receive relevant information about the incident, steps taken to address it, and preventive measures implemented to avoid future occurrences.

AI-driven tools can play a crucial role in pro-active customer engagement during a crisis. Sentiment analysis algorithms can gauge customer reactions on social media and other platforms, allowing companies to identify and address concerns in real-time. Implementing AI-powered chatbots for customer support can help manage the influx of inquiries efficiently, providing consistent and accurate information to concerned customers.

In the wake of a data breach, consumers often prioritize enhanced security measures. AI can be leveraged to reinforce cybersecurity protocols, identify vulnerabilities, and implement robust encryption techniques to safeguard customer data. Communicating the implementation of these advanced security measures using AI-driven platforms can rebuild confidence by demonstrating a commitment to protecting customer information.

AI’s ability to analyze vast datasets allows travel companies to understand the specific preferences and concerns of affected customers. By tailoring recovery strategies to individual needs, companies can demonstrate a sincere commitment to customer satisfaction. AI-driven recommendation engines can suggest compensatory offers or personalized discounts based on a customer’s previous interactions and preferences, helping to regain trust through a positive and customized approach.

AI’s machine learning capabilities enable continuous improvement by learning from past incidents. Analyzing the root causes of customer dissatisfaction or data breaches allows companies to implement corrective measures and prevent similar issues in the future. Regularly updating customers on the progress made in terms of improvements and showcasing a commitment to learning from mistakes can contribute to rebuilding trust over time.

In the face of continually complex challenges and the alarming instances of data breaches, the travel industry must invest in AI to mitigate these ongoing threats. Trust is declining every day, and it is imperative for travel organizations to heed the call to action. Organizations that want to remain relevant must embrace AI as an ally in transparent communication, proactive customer engagement, and fortifying security measures.

Now, more than ever, is the time to acknowledge and be proactive in addressing System vulnerabilities, learn from past incidents, and showcase an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. By implementing AI-driven strategies into the fabric of operations, the organization will rebuild trust and create lasting connections with customers. The road to recovery is challenging, but with AI as your guide, it becomes a transformative journey towards sustained growth, resilience, and a brighter future for the travel industry.

This article is the expressed opinions and collaboration between two senior-level industry board professionals on their views and perceptions on the subject matter:

Scott Siegel is a results-oriented and visionary technology leader. He specializes in strategic partnerships with C-Level executives and the integration of emerging technologies to optimize operations, enhance productivity, and drive cost efficiencies through the application of AI. Scott’s focus centers on cultivating a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration, aligning innovative strategies with business goals to fuel organizational growth. With a proven track record, he has directed cross-functional teams in the development and implementation of cutting-edge AI algorithms and models, revolutionizing data analysis, pattern recognition, and predictive capabilities for shopping events using generative AI.

A trailblazer in advancing neuroscience analytics, he leverages this expertise to unveil deep consumer insights, drive data-driven decision-making, and enhance customer experiences. His leadership extends to championing the adoption of data mesh architecture, enabling scalable and decentralized data ecosystems for improved democratization and agility.

He is extremely adept at developing and executing innovation strategies, leading implementations for Data Governance, Analytics, and Regulatory Privacy Compliance across diverse industries. As an advocate for AI-driven solutions, he evaluates and incorporates emerging technologies such as computer vision into business processes, products, and services.

With a commitment to excellence, he mentors and develops high-performing teams, ensuring they grow within a culture of innovation. Collaborating with executive leadership, Scott aligns analytics initiatives with overall business strategy, facilitating data-driven decision-making throughout the organization. His commitment to sharing insights is reflected in many published articles, showcasing a dedication to thought leadership in the technology and analytics space.


Geoff Hudson-Searle is a senior independent digital non-executive director across regulation, technology, and internet security, C-Suite executive on private and listed companies, and serial business advisor for growth-phase tech companies.

With more than 30 years of experience in international business and management he is the author of seven books: Freedom After the Sharks; Meaningful Conversations; Journeys to Success: Volume 9, GOD in Business, Purposeful Discussions, The Trust Paradigm and Scars to Stars Volume 3 and lectures at business forums, conferences, and universities. He has been the focus of radio/podcasts and TV with London Live, Talk TV, TEDx and RT Europe’s business documentary across various thought leadership topics and print media with The Executive Magazine, Headspring/FT, Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Raconteur, AMBA, BCS, EuropeanCEO, CEOToday across his authorisms.

A member and fellow of the Institute of Directors, associate of The Business Institute of Management, a cofounder and board member of the Neustar International Security Council (NISC) and a distinguished member of the Advisory Council for The Global Cyber Academy. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Having worked for corporate companies Citibank N.A, MICE Group Plc, Enigma Design, MMT Inc, Kaspersky Laboratory, Bartercard Plc, and RG Group around the world, Geoff has vast international experience working with SME and multinational international clients. International clients with which Geoff has worked include the British Government, HP, Compaq, BT, Powergen, Intel, ARM, Wartsila Group, Atari, Barclays Bank, Societe Generale, Western Union, Chase and Volvo.

Geoff has worked in a broad range of industries including software, technology and banking which has given him a range of different experiences and perspectives of what can work, the importance of good people, process and how these can be applied and amplified to deliver results in different scenarios and paradigms. Geoff is known for bringing in a fresh viewpoint and sometimes challenging the status-quo with a strategic approach delivering successful change management programmes and launching companies and products internationally that deliver results. Geoff’s areas of expertise lie in brand strategy, business communications, business integration, business development and improvement, capital raise activities, pre-IPO planning, capital raise transactions, M&A with full P&L responsibility, which ideally equips him to strengthen global companies, develop SME and international business, and marketing strategies.


A True Christmas and New Year Message

In a year filled with global, geopolitical and financial challenges and dramatic changes for everyone, we share gratitude with all our trusted colleagues, family, friends, and network, and importantly, a message to The Realize Foundation over the Christmas period in supporting their belief, which is; conversations, community and personal stories that reduce suicide rates. Its mission it to reach humans that are struggling with adversity before they get to suicidal ideation.

I have always said we need to take care of our mental health with the same attention we take care of our physical health, building a culture of workplace health takes time and commitment, but it can be done, and it needs to be done. Every contribution to The Realize Foundation is an enabler to continue its extraordinary work in saving people from depression, anxiety and importantly suicide.

This Christmas time is especially poignant, as we reconnect with our loved ones, families and friends internationally. We wish you a very happy, harmonious and safe holiday season and let us look forward to a positive new year in 2024.

May peace fill all the empty spaces around you, your family and your friends and your colleagues at this special time of year, and in you, may contentment answer all your wishes.

Raise a toast to yesterday’s achievements and tomorrow’s brighter future.

May comfort be yours, warm and soft like a sigh.

And may the coming year show you that every day is really a first day and a new year.

Let abundance be your constant companion so that you have much to share.

May mirth be near you always, like a lamp shining brightly on the many paths you travel.

Work with the best of your abilities in 2024 and show to the world your power to create wonderful and superior things.

New Year 2024 may turn out to be a year when you are put on the road to everlasting success, love and prosperity.

Be the change that you wish to see at your workplace and take initiatives to make things better.

Wish your tomorrow is more prosperous, happy and successful than yesterday and today.

Looking forward to another year with hunger and passion to exceed at work and you are sure to meet with success.

Let new beginnings signify a new chapter filled with pages of success and happiness, written by the ink of hard work and intelligence.

May the New Year bring us more wonderful opportunities for success.


Are we too busy to connect to real people?

I recently had a meeting in the City of London with a group of executives – the interesting fact was when I left the boardroom, there was this picture on the wall with the words:

‘Do more things that make you forget to check your phone’

– which prompted me to write this blog.

The facts, do we actually have time for our most precious relationships, do we give the time to build lasting relationships around trust and values or do we constantly feel we can always do better with the latest api or technology app?

Let’s face it: Technology is everywhere, but the more we depend on it, and the more we use it when we don’t really need it, the harder it becomes to create meaningful relationships — and sometimes, it actually makes things more difficult.

Is it really best to brainstorm an upcoming project with your co-worker over email, or would it make more sense to walk over to that person’s desk and have a face to face discussion? Can you actually go a whole dinner without checking your smartphone? Is it necessary to charge your phone right by your head at night?

In February, 2017 I wrote a very interesting blog ‘Has Technology Killed Love and Romance?’. The attributes that have now come to define us and the overexposure that the 21st century human is subjected to leaves no dearth of psychological problems. More and more people each year are diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety problems. This becomes a detriment when it comes to business and personal survival with relationships. With dissatisfying home, office or academic environments the relationship in many cases becomes the dumping ground for emotional baggage.

I challenge you to try going without technology when possible you will be surprised how great it feels (and how little really happens when you’re out of touch). While some business people avoid e-mail and mobiles during their time off, others find it tough to remain out of contact.

According to the study conducted by a group of international researchers, anyone who devotes more than four hours daily on screen-based entertainment such as TV, video games or surfing the web, ups their risk of heart attack and stroke by 113 percent and the risk of death by any cause by nearly 50 percent compared to those who spend less than two hours daily in screen play – and this is regardless of whether or not they also work out.

A very interesting TEDx video by Leslie Perlow – Thriving in an overconnected world, Leslie Pernow argues that the always “on” mentality can have a long-term detrimental effect on many organizations. In her sociological experiments at BCG and other organizations, Pernow found that if the team – rather than just individuals – collectively rallies around a goal or personal value, it unleashes a process that creates better work and better lives.

A very good friend of mine, Moran Lerner, is a behavioural and experimental psychologist with expertise in the fields of Cognitive Behavioural Innovation, computational intelligence and human-machine interaction. Moran has founded/co-founded over 20 market-leading global companies with 14 successful exits in Computational Intelligence, Biomimetics, Interactive Gaming and Behavioural and Bio Engineering over the past 20 years.

We often explore new and creative ways of listening, engaging, working together, learning, building community and being in conversation with the other. We are more connected than ever through technology and at the same time the disconnect with ourselves, others and our environment is growing.
We need ‘Meaningful Conversations’ to help us reconnect, going beyond our egos and our fears to build strong relationships, communities, networks and organisations, so that through collaboration.

Anyone who has sat on a Caribbean beach this summer will be familiar with the thrill of mobiles producing an instant response among supposedly off-duty executives. Mobile phones, BlackBerries, iPads, WiFi and sub-miniature laptops make it all too possible to pack the office along with your luggage. But how in touch or out of touch should businesspeople be?

So, what happens if you run your own firm?

You might have the big salary that comes with the top job, but little time to enjoy it.

Can CEOs ever release their grip and truly take a break?

The biggest obstacle to disconnecting is not technology: it is your own level of commitment or compulsion when it comes to work. If you work 80 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, you may find it pretty hard to get your head out of the office – and even harder to break the association between hearing the ping of an incoming email and immediately shifting into work brain.

If you told somebody 50 years ago that the most world-changing invention of the near future was telephones you could carry around in your pocket, they’d probably look at you like you were insane. But it’s true — mobile phones (and the data networks that have grown with them) have drastically reshaped the way we live in thousands of different ways.

Remember when horror movies had people menaced by slashers with no way to call for help? Remember unfolding confusing paper maps, trying to find where you were on the road? Remember racking your brain to think of that actor who played a robot on that one show? All of those things are gone thanks to Google and the incredibly powerful networked computers we carry in our pockets.

With great power comes great responsibility, however, and scientists are starting to learn that spending so much time staring at our phones is actually doing some damage to our physical, social and intellectual lives.

Here a few reasons why you should balance you time on your device:
It damages your eyes – Experts advise that prolonged screen usage can be seriously detrimental to eye health

It makes people perceive you negatively – Studies from Takashi Nakamura – Professor in computers in human behaviour reveal that frequent peeks at your device might damage your friendships as much as your eyes.

They carry bacteria – A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine determined that one out of every six cell phones in England is contaminated with fecal matter, and 16 percent of them carry the E. Coli bacteria.

It’s bad for your neck – “Text Neck” has been springing up more and more in the last few years. The human head is a heavy object, and our neck and spine are designed to keep it up at a certain angle.

It makes driving dangerous – Recently released results from a new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) naturalistic driving study continue to show that distracted driving is a tangible threat. The study showed that a staggering 213,000 accidents involved cell phone usage.

It makes walking dangerous – Phones can distract you on the street just as much as behind the wheel. In fact, an increase in pedestrian deaths last year was partially due to distractions caused by smartphones – some countries including the Netherlands – the Dutch town of Bodegraven has come up with a clever new way of keeping phone-obsessed pedestrians safe as they cross the road, a strip LED traffic signals installed in the pavement that glow red or green, allowing pedestrians to see if it is safe to cross, even if their eyes are glued to their phone screens.

It can damage your hands – We have all heard about “cell phone elbow” and “Blackberry thumb.” We’ve heard that looking down at a smartphone puts pressure on the spine and may damage your eyes. We are now experiencing “text claw,” a soreness and cramping in the wrists, forearms and fingers resulting from overusing our phones. But now we’re learning that such overuse might lead to temporary pain or even a deformity of your pinky finger.

It’s bad for sleep – Many people have a hard time putting down their cell phones before bed — when your Twitter interactions are going crazy, that temptation to take just one more look is hard to resist. Unfortunately, a number of studies have revealed that using LCD screens — especially close to your face — can upset your natural sleep cycle.

It makes you stressed – A study at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden attempted to measure the effects of cell phone usage on people in their 20s over the course of a year, the study connected mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults.

It can make you hallucinate – even when you’re not looking at your phone, it can still mess with your mind. A professor at Indiana University-Purdue University conducted a study on “phantom pocket vibration syndrome” — i.e. people thinking that their cell phone was vibrating to alert them even when it wasn’t. In her survey, 89 percent of undergraduates reported thinking that their mobile was vibrating even when it wasn’t. The fact that our brains are being rewired to constantly expect this stimuli can also lead to stress, with another study observing significantly elevated anxiety levels in subjects separated from their phones for an hour.

It is altering your brain – this last one isn’t a definite negative — scientists still don’t understand exactly what is happening — but it’s troubling nonetheless. A study from the National Institutes of Health hooked up 47 people to PET scanners and observed their brain activity while a cellular phone was kept close to their head. The scientists observed a visible increase of about 7 percent, but as of yet don’t know its cause or what kind of long-term effects it will have. What we do know, however, is that the radiation is up to something in there, and are you really willing to take that risk?

“Most people check their phone every 15 minutes or less, even if they have no alerts or notifications,” Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind . “We’ve built up this layer of anxiety surrounding our use of technology, that if we don’t check in as often as we think we should, we’re missing out.”

Rosen’s research has shown that besides increasing anxiousness, the compulsion to check notifications and feeds interferes with people’s ability to focus.

Besides the wasted time, there’s also the psychological grind that comes from spending too much time on your phone. Several studies have shown social media can be bad for your mental health, and Facebook admitted last year that passive use of its social network can leave people in negative moods. Researchers are still trying to figure out what long-term effects channelling so much time and energy into our devices will cause.

Some large investors are even pressing Apple to develop new tools to help users curb their phone addictions, saying that a feeling of dependency is bad for the company’s long-term health.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for Apple – you can simply become more deliberate about how you use your phone.

One group of business people at The Boston Group, a consulting firm, discovered just that when they participated in an experiment run by Leslie Perlow, who is the Konsuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School and author of the book, “Sleeping With Your Smartphone”.

As described in her book. the group found that taking regular “predictable time off” (PTO) from their smartphones resulted in increased efficiency and collaboration, heightened job satisfaction, and better work-life balance.

Four years after her initial experiment, Leslie Perlow reports, 86% of the consulting staff in the firm’s Northeast offices including Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. were on teams engaged in similar PTO experiments.

Final thought….. If you use your phone less, you’ll end up with more free time. Much of this will be in small chunks, such as when you are in the elevator, waiting in line of on the train. These can be great opportunities to take a deep breath and just do nothing (which can be a surprisingly relaxing and restorative experience).

You’re also likely to find yourself with longer periods of time to fill. In order to keep yourself from reverting to your phone to entertain you, it’s essential that you decide on several activities you would like to use this time for and then set up your environment to make it more likely that you will stick to these intentions.

For example, if you say you want to read more, put a book on your coffee table, so when you flop down on the couch at the end of a long day, your book will be within eyesight and reach. If you want to practice playing music, take your instrument out of its case and prop it up in the hall, where it will be easy to grab when you have a few spare moments. If you want to spend more time in mindfulness take the time to schedule time for meditation and practice it daily. If you want to spend more time with your family or a particular friend, make plans to do so and put your phone in your pocket or bag for the duration of your time together. Smartphones are habit-forming, so think about the habits you want to form.

As American author Regina Brett once said:

“Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn’t looking down at a device in their hands? We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us.”