Leadership: do investors invest in leadership’s ability to execute?

leadershipLeadership undoubtedly has an impact on the value of the business, especially from an investment perspective. Companies have always been indexed with a market value based on a measure of their finances. And, while the finances of a business are important, potential investors may seek to base their investments on intangible metrics like brand, strategy and leadership.

A recent debacle after decades arming American soldiers, first with the Vietnam era M16 and later the modern M4 rifles carried in Iraq and Afghanistan, famed gun manufacturer Colt lost its contract with the military in 2013. It never recovered. Colt Defense LLC filed for bankruptcy after 179 years in business.

The downturn for Colt seems to have started after the company, which had relied on sales to the government, lost a multimillion-dollar bid to arm the military, Colt’s chapter 11 filing came after earlier, failed attempts to restructure its $350 million debt were rejected by the company’s bondholders. Last November, The Wall Street Journal reports, Colt borrowed $70 million from Morgan Stanley in a bailout loan to allow the company to pay down interest on its debt, but was this a leadership issue?

Here’s an interesting contradiction: According to a survey from executive team consultancy Gap International, executives overwhelmingly agree that talent can make or break a company; yet only a minority actually say they invest in leadership development programs.

How important is maximizing a company’s talent? Very, said 85 percent of execs surveyed. In addition, 83 percent said the same of empowering employees to succeed. The problem: the “maximisation” bar is set too low.

Only 37 percent of leaders surveyed said they believe their employees can become top performers. What’s more, less than half said they would “invest innovation efforts” in leadership development or employee performance training this year

That data points to a disconnect between how employers think and how they act regarding talent development. If it’s really that important, why aren’t more companies investing in leadership training programs?

Leadership brand is a reputation for developing exceptional managers with a distinct set of talents that are uniquely geared to fulfil customers’ and investors’ expectations. A company with a leadership brand inspires faith that employees and managers will consistently make good on the firm’s promises. A Nordstrom customer knows that the retailer’s employees and managers will give her white glove service. Parents who take their kids to a Disney theme park assume that ride operators and restaurant personnel will be upbeat, friendly, and gracious. McKinsey clients understand that smart, well-educated consultants will bring the latest management knowledge to bear on their problems. A leadership brand is also embedded in the organization’s culture, through its policies and its requirements for employees. For example, the tagline of Lexus is “the pursuit of perfection.” Internally, the Lexus division translates that promise into the expectation that managers will excel at managing quality processes, including lean manufacturing and Six Sigma.

Previously, there had been no index of how companies’ leadership affects their value. Harvard Business Review, however, has developed a leadership rating index, created from a number of studies based on the effects of leadership.

Their index is broken down between individual — personal qualities of top leadership — and organisational — systems created to manage leadership throughout the organisation. Below is Harvard Business Review’s index on leadership.


Personal proficiency: To what extent do leaders demonstrate the personal qualities to be an effective leader (e.g. intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and ethical behaviors)?

Strategist: To what extent do leaders articulate a point of view about the future and accordingly adjust the firm’s strategic positioning?

Executor: To what extent do leaders make things happen and deliver as promised?

People manager: To what extent do leaders build competence, commitment, and contribution of their people today and tomorrow?

Leadership differentiator: To what extent do leaders behave consistent with customer expectations?


  • Culture capability: To what extent do leaders create a customer-focused culture throughout the organisation?
  • Talent management: To what extent do leaders manage the flow of talent into, through, and out of the organization?
  • Performance accountability: to what extent do leaders create performance management practices that reinforce the right behaviors?
  • Information: To what extent do leaders manage information flow throughout the organization (e.g., from top to bottom, bottom to top, and side to side)?
  • Work practices: To what extent do leaders establish organization and governance that deal with the increasing pace of change in today’s business setting?

In the end, successful leaders are able to sustain their success because these individual and organisational traits ultimately allow them to increase the value of their organisation’s brand – while at the same time minimize the operating risk profile.   They serve as the enablers of talent, culture and results driven people.

Can a Blue Moon’ really affect our behaviour and emotions?

SAM_1235I personally just love Blue Moon’s. I was excited by the Blue Moon that occurred on July 31st this year, the moon’s vibrancy, mystical movement and amazingly strong energy, apparently and according to the astrologers this year’s Blue Moon was in Aquarius which explains a lot about my excitement, but exactly what is a Blue Moon and how does it affect us in everything we do?

Whether you believe astrology, it has guided life for 5,000 years. I say guiding because the ancient Babylonians, and later the Greeks used the star filled Mediterranean sky to navigate and bring their ships safely home. Over time the ancients began to notice patterns on earth that corresponded to heavenly patterns and planetary movement. Eclipses were particularly significant. Imagine the effect of seeing the sun darken mid-day (solar eclipse) or the Moon’s beams dimmed (lunar eclipse).This was surely a message.

So this brings us to the Blue Moon. This occurs when there are two full moons in a single month.

There was a full moon July 1 and there was one on July 31. This calendar occurrence does not happen every year. There were blue moons in 2011 and 2014; the next series will be in 2017. When the lunar energies are so concentrated we can expect heightened emotions, agitation and dramatic actions. It is true. The full Moon brings out all of our emotions. We howl. Ancient doctors avoided surgery at the full Moon because they observed an increased chance of haemorrhage. On the other hand, it is said that those wanting to start a family can use the power of the moon; it is supposed to be a very good time to conceive.

Experts say, all full moons bring us in touch with our emotions, our sensitivities and our inner-selves.

When we are in tune with the natural energetic currents of nature, we can combine our own energy forces so that we have an extra surge, which helps to push us in the right direction.

Apparently and according to experts, everything from our past is about to be illuminated and areas that desperately need focusing on will be brought to our attention and during this blue moon, there will be no looking away.

We will meet with certain issues that have haunted us face-to-face and rather than being fearful, we should see this as an excellent chance for growth and transformation.

So with all this extra energy, we will deal with all our current issues, not fear the unknown, progress with confidence and our dreams and intentions will become reality– amazing!

SAM_1219Can something so powerful as the Blue Moon, really be the catalyst for so much change, transformation and success?

There is a famous quote:

“You have no control over how your story begins or ends. But by now, you should know that all things have an ending. Every spark returns to darkness. Every sound returns to silence. Every flower returns to sleep with the earth. The journey of the sun and moon is predictable. But yours, is your ultimate art.”

~ Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

The legend of the full moon’s effects on human behaviour has existed for centuries, popularised by the myth of the werewolf. The words “lunacy” and “lunatic” are derived from the same Latin root that gives us the word “lunar,” as people often attributed intermittent insanity to the phases of the moon. While many people believe the full moon influences behaviour, scientific studies have found very little evidence supporting the “Lunar Effect.”

So with all the world’s scientific research, what makes the full moon lunacy theory still so popular?

Perhaps it’s the media, who know people are more likely to read a good story, as one of my colleagues said we can always blame it on the moon?. Or maybe people just want to hold onto an ancient legend that’s been around for hundreds of years?

A more scientific answer may be selective memory. If some bizarre change in behaviour across emotions, work or family caused a confidence occurrence, people are probably more likely to remember it if it happened during the night of a full moon.

What are your stories around the Blue Moon, I would love to hear if something miraculous happened on Friday July 31st?

Do we embrace fear or fight fear?

meaningful-lifeA very good friend of mine was discussing films with me a few weeks ago, whilst I am not a huge digital streaming guy for films, I still can be quite old-fashioned and be known for ordering the occasional DVD from Amazon, after some time. My friend convinced me that I really should see the film Peaceful Warrior.

The story is about a young gymnast Dan Millman played by Scott Mechlowicz, and his struggle to make sense of his life in which he is successful but still unfulfilled. By chance he meets his “Yoda”/Shaolin priest/Boss Paul who helps him “git his head straight” after which he goes on to be comfortable with his athletic prowess albeit not exactly Olympic caliber. When one is successful, one does not have the time and patience to look back or forward. Dan is leading his life in chase of a dream – to get a gold in the Olympics. He and his coach knows that he is the best, but still inside he too knows that something is missing. It was in one of his sleepless nights that he meets a petrol pump attendant who changes his life – step by step. He also realizes the change but he is not ready to let go the garbage within him. As the petrol pump attenders says “I call myself a Peaceful Warrior… because the battles we fight are on the inside.”

The movie takes a u turn when Dam meets with an accident – where his leg bone just shatters, it is not only the leg that breaks but also his heart to go forward for his only love, the Olympics.”A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does.” Socrates(as Dam calls him), the petrol pump attendant teaches the guy to find his long-lost love and dream. But towards the end he finds the hard truth that Socrates was a illusionist character – whose sole purpose of life was to take Dan to his dream and make him prepared to win the battle within him. This is almost a “Rocky IX” type movie with a wonderful happy ending.

Have you thought that through within your own life?

fear-of-failureMany people are afraid of the thought of change without having change in their life. We all have our own examples of how fear can be such a huge, impenetrable barrier.  Fear…some would rather bury it, walk around it, build bridges over it, cover it with medication or another substance, stay busy to deny it, ignore it, avoid it by staying within a box rather than name it, or even embrace it joyfully.

As children we were told to always fight. Always resist ‘bad situations’. Shake them off. Be happy. Always feel good, taking the positive from everything we do.

That is impossible, although Audrey Hepburn did once say ‘impossible is I’m possible’. We all feel the negative end of emotions. And that’s just the way things were supposed to be as humans. Without the negative end, we wouldn’t be able to feel the positive end of emotions. No one wants to float in the neutral zone all the time, life would lose all meaning and we would all be walking aliens.

Anxiety is one of those negative emotions. It stems from fear and then leads to stress. Usually fear of the future. And fear stems from the mind, from our thoughts.

Imagine what would be possible if you embraced fear and considered it to be one of your greatest teachers in adversity? If you resist fear or react when you feel fear, then you cannot learn from it or even recognise any lessons that would contribute to your continued evolution. And if you are not learning from it, then you can’t look at the fear as something that can be reframed into a positive opportunity to grow and change.

So, if you want to accelerate your success and make better choices in your life both personally and professionally, embrace your fears rather than avoid or ignore them. Only then are you able to distinguish between the facts and the negative assumptions of what may be. Now, compound this with embracing your vulnerability. I am not referring to being vulnerable as in putting yourself in harms way but being vulnerable is in being authentic and human. And if you start embracing your fears, your worries and your vulnerability that every person’s ego has tendency to shy away from, then what else can stop you? Nothing. You have broken the fear based paralysis that keeps you stuck in one place and the grip that fear had on you. This is your success formula for becoming unstoppable.

Key tips for overcoming fear:

  • Make fear your ally rather than your adversary so that you can learn and grow from it.
  • Top executives have learned what average executives fail to learn; to embrace their fears and do what needs to be done anyway.
  • Things rarely happen the way we worry about them.
  • That you fear is not real.
  • Identify the indisputable facts surrounding every situation so that you can make an objective decision based on what truly is, rather than what you think is true but is not.
  • Determine your healthy and pleasurable fuel source to ignite your passion and drive your activity and efforts.
  • You are the greatest gift you can give to your prospects/customers and team, as well as the best-kept secret, so let it out!
  • Fears and dreams are only possibilities that are constructed in your imagination.
  • Bring yourself and your thinking back into the present moment. Since that which we fear lives in the future, the fear can’t get to you in the moment.
  • Shift your focus to the outcome that you do want to create or manifest instead of what you don’t want or what you want to avoid.

In human terms, this is what we call healing emotional trauma. Coming to grips with what makes our perceptions distort certain dangers to the point that we experience helplessness, and healing this. Fortunately, it is possible to do so. It is possible to undo fear conditioning and to unlearn learned helplessness. But this can only happen once we face the actuality of the problem, instead of dismissing it as something we should be able to easily deal with, just as the film Peaceful Warrior demonstrated, if only we put a little more willpower, determination and conviction into it.

Can unforced errors happen in tennis and business?

Geoff playing tennisI recently watched the recent Wimbledon men’s tennis final between Federer and Djokovic, I enjoyed the final immensely. The final triggered memories of a book that I read many years that totally inspired me by W. Timothy Gallwey, called the Inner Game of Tennis.

The Inner Game of tennis is that which takes place in our mind, played against such elusive opponents as nervousness, self-doubt and lapses of concentration. It is a game played by our mind against its own bad habits. Replacing one pattern of behaviour with a new, more positive one is the purpose of the “Inner Game”.

Peak performance at tennis, like any sport, only comes when our mind is so focused that it is still and at one with what our body is doing. The key to the “Inner Game” and better tennis is achieving this state of relaxed concentration so that we are playing “out of our mind” and therefore no worrying about how, when or where to hit the ball.

Whilst the Inner Game of Tennis explores how to overcome mental obstacles, improve concentration and reduce anxiety for better performance at every level. There is no physical reason why this cannot be applied to business. The Inner Games of sport approach makes all the difference.

I personally enjoy tennis with a passion, tennis is a challenging sport, which can really test your fitness and skill levels, it requires:

  • Skill and knowledge
  • Patience and tolerance
  • Movement and varying levels of power
  • Perseverance and determination
  • Strategy and a game plan

businessman-playing-tennis-hitting-balls-35797650How Business and Tennis are similar…

In an article entitled “7 Worst Career Mistakes You Can Make”, Jeffrey A. Krames, author “The Unforced Error: Why Some Managers Get Promoted while others Get Eliminated” quotes Tim Gallwey and on of the principles of The Inner Game. Here is the quote:

“Tennis and business have a lot more common than you may think. In 1982, a tennis professional coined the term “unforced error” to describe what happens when one player who is in position to return the ball makes an error by hitting the ball out of the field of play — or missing the ball altogether. That same kind of error happens all of the time in the business world.”

Research shows that even the smartest managers make the worst career errors. Once again, the same is true in tennis. Even the best players in the world make unforced errors in every match. In professional tennis as in business, the player with the fewest unforced errors usually wins.

Research also shows that at the top levels of corporations unforced errors have taken a greater toll than ever before. For example, CEO turnover is up 60 percent between 2005 and 2014 and shows no signs of slowing down (that according to a Booz Allen). However, you do not have to be a CEO to make a costly unforced error.

In my international career of 20 years I have seen numerous unforced errors and from some of the smartest executives in business, what are your experiences?