Colourless green ideas sleep furiously

The somewhat bizarre title of this post is a quote from the influential linguistics professor, Noam Chomsky, in his 1957 book “Syntactic Structures”. In the book, he presented this sentence as an example of a grammatically well-formed but semantically nonsensical sentence. He used it to illustrate the distinction between syntax and semantics, two key components […]

Anxiety – a leadership birth pang?

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on anxiety – its antecedents, its presentation, its impacts. It is perhaps not surprising. I don’t feel particularly anxious – at least not at a conscious level. But it is ‘in the air’. Be it the insidious impacts of a struggling economy, the sense of impending doom from escalating […]

Seneca’s lament

My last post was written in the magical city of Rome, that wonderful nexus of the old and the new, bustling with noisy life yet infused with the calm perspective of ages past. That city above all, confronts me with the dialectical worldviews of old and new, the paradoxical emphases of the ages, the cultural […]

I don’t have the capacity … 

How often do I find myself using that phrase – “I don’t have the capacity”? To be honest, I normally only use it to myself, in response to external requests for attention and in the context of meaning I’m overstretched, I don’t have the time, my bandwidth is maxed out. I don’t often enough use […]

How do I show up?

I’ve been reflecting a lot with colleagues and clients in recent months about the challenges of capacity building in leadership, not least in the VUCA-dominated, fast-paced world of the emerging digital leader. The particularities of the leadership challenges faced by – and, therefore, capabilities required of – digital leaders are worthy of a more detailed […]

The habit of excellence

In our fast-paced, driven, and demanding work environment, the innate desire to succeed (present in many of us) can find heightened expression. Often this can manifest serious consequences for wellbeing. ‘Try harder’ becomes the self-imposed, if not externally driven, mantra. To an extent this is reasonable and appropriate. To an extent! However, it begs many […]

What if I get it wrong?

I was reminded over the Christmas holiday of the story – no doubt apocryphal, but interesting nonetheless – of the young girl whose class was asked by her teacher to draw a picture. When the teacher asked her what she had decided to draw, she replied that she would draw a picture of God. “That’s […]

“I have your back”.

It was an honour recently to work with an inspiring group of healthcare leaders. We explored over five creative days the challenges of strategic leadership within the healthcare setting. The intrinsic nature of healthcare within the UK context as a complex adaptive system, together with the ever-present VUCA context, very much informed our approach to […]

Innovation and empathy

Very few of my executive coaching engagements pass by without the topic of empathy emerging – nearly always being raised by my client before I do. This is hardly surprising given the increased understanding of the role of emotional intelligence within transformative leadership. These conversations are invariably fruitful and open into avenues of emotional intelligence […]

Twelve paradoxes of innovation

In my leadership development programmes, I often cite the Eleven Paradoxes of Leadership that used to hang on the office wall of every manager at Lego. Their simplicity masks their profundity. And, as so often is the case, paradox – or perhaps better put, creative tensions – can provide powerful insights. To put it another […]

Social Media