When Teams Work Best

Teams are everywhere in business and industry, and in government, schools, hospitals and professional associations — indeed, almost everywhere where people gather to get things done. But some teams work better than others. What does it take to make teams work effectively?

To answer that question, more than 6,000 team members in a variety of organizations were surveyed. They assessed their teams, their team leaders and each other against a common set of criteria and responded to open-ended questions. From the safety of confidentiality, they identified what encourages teams to success and what discourages them into failure.

Five crucial areas emerged.

1. Team Members

2. Team Relationships

3. Team Problem Solving

4. Team Leader

5. Organisational Environment


Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson write about how 6,000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What It Takes to Succeed! A must read!

Click below to read book summary!

When Teams Work Best

Related Reading

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable,

by Patrick M. Lencioni, John Wiley & Sons, 2002, ISBN


The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them

and Empower Your Team, by John C. Maxwell, Thomas

Nelson, 2001, ISBN 0785274340.

The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance

Organization, by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K.

Smith, HarperBusiness, 1994, ISBN 0887306764.




Who Helped Me?

I decided to have a Thai massage this afternoon…well I have had a few tough weeks but not as tough as some due to the recent floods here in Brisbane. Just awful!

While lying there and reflecting on the past few weeks and getting a sense of real relaxation and hearing the lovely Thai woman say to me that I am really tight in my back, I just smile and say I know. We all get so busy and caught up in the doing and peddling as someone once told me, that we forget to reflect on what we are thinking and feeling…we are just doing.

My mind wondered to my back and why I was feeling stressed. It might be due to the fact I have been running around like a mad woman, meetings, coaching, writing leadership training, conducting interviews, making a million phone calls, headhunting and looking after a daughter…ugh…now do you understand the massage! But my first thought was the floods and how I haven’t been able to work with one particular client as the construction site was submerged. Then I began to think about what I have been frustrated by and around how I haven’t been able to work or help those people I coach and develop on my client site. I really missed it and really missed them. I love my work and I love that I make a difference but I also learn something from them. I was terribly frustrated I couldn’t help them and was eager to get back into the swing of things!

Sometimes we forget who helped me? And in turn whom, are we helping. In my coaching sessions, which really focus on a number of areas but mostly on self awareness and building leadership capability, I talk to my clients about “Who Helped me?” A powerful exercise around thinking of people in our lives who have helped you most in your life, career and the people whom you would say, “Without this person, I could not have accomplished or achieved as much as I have. Without this person, I would not be the person I am today.” I love that saying, people come into your life for a reason. I truly believe this.

This exercise and reflection really does make you think about the people who have impacted you – but also you become aware of yourself and how you are impacting others around you? Yes?!  What did you learn from these people?

Then you start to think about the feelings and sensations you are feeling when you think about what they said or did – or in some cases didn’t say or do. And what do these memories want to make you do today?

I find you typically experience warm and emotional reactions to the memories of the individuals who helped them.  They remember how deeply affected they are or were. I know when I think of a few people who really helped me, I find I begin to think about their long lasting impact and how profound that impact was in my life. They helped me discover my true strengths and values and ultimately my personal vision and learning for myself…Pretty powerful!

So the next time you are stuck in traffic or having a Thai massage (Note: Yes I know what a life – but I really deserved it! And by the way we all do!), think about Who Helped Me? How do you feel about that person…what do you remember? Then think about Who are You Helping? What impact or difference do you think you make as a leader to those around you? Or as a father, mother, friend, sibling, sports coach…it impacts many areas of our life. An understanding of how people have helped us and how we help those around us, helps us learn and grow and creates a fascinating set of guidelines for professional and people development…and you don’t need to massage to begin to discover that one!

Leaders at All Levels

Leaders at All Levels
Deepening Your Talent Pool
to Solve the Succession Crisis

A great book by Ram Charan who wrote another must read – Leadership Pipeline.

Companies are too often short on the quantity and quality of leaders they need
at all levels. But they could fill their leadership vacuum, says business adviser and
author Ram Charan, if they knew how to spot and develop their potential leaders.
Most processes for finding and developing the potential leaders within an organization
are deeply flawed. Companies need a completely new approach.This new
approach, outlined in Leaders at All Levels, is called the Apprenticeship Model. It focuses
on spotting leaders early and putting them in situations that drive them to grow
fast. It transforms leadership development from a discrete activity run by the
human resources staff to an everyday activity that is fully integrated into the fabric
of the business, and in which line leaders play a central role.
The Apprenticeship Model of leadership development requires profoundly different
attitudes and mind-sets as well as major organizational changes, and the
results don’t come quickly. But it is eminently practical, based on decades of observation
of hundreds of leaders in dozens of companies. Companies that have
embraced Charan’s leadership development model have built powerful talent
engines that give them an edge.

• How to sharpen your power of observation to spot potential leaders
within an organization.
• How to accelerate leadership growth, build core capabilities and
acquire new ones.
• How to apply the processes and tools that bring the Apprenticeship
Model to life.
• How aspiring leaders can use the Apprenticeship Model as a road map
for taking charge of their own growth.
• How to give each promising leader the opportunities that are right for
him or her at the fastest pace of growth he or she can handle.

A must read for anyone in OD or Talent Management – or for any leader today!

You can get it from Amazon – now on Kindle


Click below to read further!

Leaders at All Levels

Bringing Science to the Art of Coaching

Interest in helping leaders become better coaches is at an all time high…This is a great article by Zenger Folkman on the answering questions around to what degree does coaching really pay off? How can we increase the effectiveness of each coaching session?

I believe Coaching is a very personal, powerful and individual journey – and two are never the same which is highlighted in this article. The real power of coaching is not only the session themselves but the change and growth between the session.



Holistic Leadership

What is it about Leadership in the 21st century? I rarely hear the term management, even though it is as equally important and you can’t ignore the fact that the two work together to form a whole approach. As John Kotter once stated, “Leadership and Management are…two distinctive and complementary systems of action”. However, this article will focus on something greater than just leadership and management. In the many years I have been working in organisational development and leadership, I have never seen such a growth and hunger for learning around the term leadership.

Presently I am working with some amazing managers and leaders who are experts in their field but mention the word leadership and they go completely pale with fear. How do they define leadership? What scares them? Is it the debate around are leaders born or made? Or is it the people they lead themselves?

Today, being an expert in your field is vital but equally as important is the ability to lead your people and understand yourself as a leader. It becomes imperative for professionals to continually redefine and expand their knowledge of leadership. As a consultant in the field, I continuously read, research and discuss this subject and I am passionate about being aware of many theories, models and concepts around leadership. For me, it is about the learning, not only about what is the latest or greatest, but about my journey and making a difference in becoming the leader I want to be. And yes leaders can be made! Hence, my article will focus on the concept of Holistic Leadership being defined as being able to lead from the mind, heart and gut.

Holism can be defined (from holos, a Greek word meaning all, whole, entire, total) as the idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way that the parts behave. (Wikipedia).

In turn, holistic leadership is the ability for a leader not only to understand oneself and lead others from this vantage point, but also the premise that each of us must strive throughout our lifetime to become a centered individual who is able to effectively use the principal components of leadership. Just as significant is to understand the importance of the whole and the interrelationships among the components. I see the components being not only as a leader who must lead from the mind, heart and gut but looking at the journey that leads the transformation at the individual, team and organizational levels or even leading within your community.
One interesting article is Robert Cooper’s (2000) “A new neuroscience of leadership” where he describes how the human fetus’ three brains are developed. First the brain of the heart is developed, followed by the brain of the gut, which leads to the final development of the brain in the head. The article is a must read around not only the differences between these three aspects of intelligence but also the importance of these brains working collectively together. In turn, it is important for leaders to constantly develop insight and awareness into their brains. Knowing oneself and understanding how you look at and interpret the world is imperative to becoming an effective leader. I have found through my work on myself and with others, that how one goes about this journey is as unique as each individual.

Exploring the brain of the mind enables one to recognize, assess and understand how this brain contributes to one’s beliefs, perceptions and behaviours. The book, Fifth Discipline: the art and practice of a learning organization by Peter Senge (1990) gives us great insight to something called mental models. A considerable aspect to the brain of the mind is identifying and working with our mental models. A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person’s intuitive perception about their own acts and their consequences.

Our mental models help shape our behaviour and define our approach to solving problems (akin to a personal algorithm) and carrying out tasks (Wikipedia). In addition, our personal experiences, history and personality contribute to the development of our own set of mental models. It is also important for us to develop strong reflective and inquiry skills. How many of us take the time to reflect on our decisions or behaviour or even ask questions around this? In turn, by understanding ours, and others mental models and making necessary adjustments is one of the keys to becoming a holistic leader.

We as leaders need to understand how we, and others perceive, organize and make decisions regarding our world. In addition, the heart is the centre of what inspires, motivates and drives us. Too often I work with leaders who feel that their feelings should be checked at the door. Why is this so? Our feelings, provides us with invaluable insight and information. When we as leaders listen, we demonstrate respect for others and ourselves. Have we all forgotten some very well known motivational theories such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Herzberg’s Motivators? As such Maslow found that all humans have a need to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect. One of the needs known as the belonging need, esteem presents the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People need to engage themselves to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution, to feel accepted and self-valued. This is where the brain of the heart plays a vital role in holistic leadership.

Finally the brain of the gut or intuition as some may like to call it. This one is harder to define or explain when it comes to leadership. Leading with that gut feeling or instinct? One of my favourite books by John C Maxwell is The 21 of Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. One if his laws, believe or not, and I am sure you saw this coming was the Law of Intuition. As Dr. Maxwell states that “leadership depends on more than just the facts. Leaders see trends, resources and problems, and can read people. The law of intuition is based on facts plus instinct and other intangible factors. A leader has to read the situation and know instinctively what play to call. Leadership is more art than science.” The law of intuition is one of the more difficult leadership laws for many people to grasp and understand. The law of intuition recognizes that leaders evaluate situations with their leadership bias. Intuition molds the leader’s thinking and decision-making processes.

Everyone possesses intuition within their area of strength or body of knowledge meaning they instinctively know how to react to a given situation by relying on their strength and knowledge developed through practice. Likewise, leaders exhibit the ability to use intuition and instinct by leveraging their leadership bias. Intuition relies more on feeling and sensing rather than data or facts and figures. An excellent example in the book is around Steve Jobs who, when he went back to Apple computers, started making major decisions using intuitive leadership. His move to form a strategic alliance with archenemy Bill Gates was an intuitive move that could have failed. But his intuitive move worked and proved very successful for the company and stock values.

Holistic Leadership is present in each and every one of us. It is a journey and by opening yourself up to learning about yourself and those around you; you are on your way to becoming a more centered and balanced individual. In turn holistic leadership can be powerful and enlightening; working with all the components not just one alone. As such; as we change and grow, we as leaders must be able to adjust and adapt our styles to the circumstances and people we lead, and this must be done in the larger context of learning as it is a journey of discovery. Finally I challenge you to take that journey to learning about yourself, those around you and to the many theories and models out there on leadership…and as a leader, to make a difference.

Appreciative Inquiry

If you are looking for a OD process that makes a difference, have a look at Appreciative. I attended the AHRI Leadership Conference last year and the HR Team at Brisbane Treasury Casino implemented this process and had fantastic results!

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an organizational development process or philosophy that engages individuals within an organizational system in its renewal, change and focused performance. AI is based on the assumption that organizations change in the way they inquire and the claim that an organization that inquires into problems or difficult situations will keep finding more of the same, but an organization that tries to appreciate what is best in itself will find/discover more and more of what is good.[1].
Appreciative Inquiry was adopted from work done by earlier action research theorists and practitioners and further developed by David Cooperrider of Case Western Reserve University and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. Cooperrider and Srivastva say that an organization is a miracle to be embraced rather than a problem to be solved. According to them, inquiry into organizational life should have the following characteristics:


It is now a commonly accepted practice in the creation of organizational development strategy and implementation of organizational effectiveness tactics.
Appreciative Inquiry is a particular way of asking questions and envisioning the future that fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation, or an organization. In so doing, it enhances a system’s capacity for collaboration and change.

Appreciative Inquiry utilizes a cycle of 4 processes focusing on:
DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.

The basic idea is to build organizations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. It is the opposite of problem solving. Instead of focusing on gaps and inadequacies to remediate skills or practices, AI focuses on how to create more of the exceptional performance that is occurring when a core of strengths is aligned. It opens the door to a universe of possibilities, since the work doesn’t stop when a particular problem is solved but rather focuses on “What is the best we can be?” The approach acknowledges the contribution of individuals, in order to increase trust and organizational alignment. The method aims to create meaning by drawing from stories of concrete successes and lends itself to cross-industrial social activities.

There are a variety of approaches to implementing Appreciative Inquiry, including mass-mobilized interviews and a large, diverse gathering called an Appreciative Inquiry Summit (Ludema, Whitney, Mohr and Griffin, 2003). Both approaches involve bringing very large, diverse groups of people together to study and build upon the best in an organization or community.

The basic philosophy of AI is also found in other positively oriented approaches to individual change as well as organizational change. As noted above, ” AI …fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, or a situation ….” The principles behind A.I. are based in the rapidly developing science of Positive Psychology. The idea of building on strength, rather than just focusing on faults and weakness is a powerful idea in use in mentoring programs, and in coaching dynamics. It is the basic idea behind teaching “micro-affirmations” as well as teaching about micro-inequities.

Taken from Wikipedia

Read: The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide to Positive Change
Diana Whitney (Author), Amanda Trosten-Bloom (Author), David Cooperrider (Foreword)

Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change
David L Cooperrider (Author), Diana Whitney (Author)


20 Ways to Use Linkedin!

Being a guru on Linkedin and a fan of the capabilities of this amazing professional website; I thought I would share one of my favourite articles of how to get the best out of Linkedin!


20 Ways to Use LinkedIn

The Practice of Adaptive Leadership

Recommended Reading: The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World ~by Ronald Heifetz, Marty Linsky and Alexander Grashow

We live in a time of danger and opportunity. Individuals, organizations, communities and countries must continuously adapt to new realities to simply survive. Wanting more, wanting to thrive even under constantly shifting and often perilous conditions, people in all sectors are called upon to lead with the courage and skill to challenge the status quo, deploy themselves with agility, and mobilize others to step into the unknown. Continue reading

Top 9 Leadership Behaviours That Drive Employee Commitment

Article by Joe Folkman

In the current times of economic trouble, it is common to see layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts, and budget reduction. Morale is often low among the employees who are fortunate enough to retain their jobs. Productivity suffers, as well as employee satisfaction with their jobs and organization. Some have lost hope, and many have lost faith in the traditional model of capitalism. It’s times like these that many executives and management personnel find a place to hide until the storm blows over, avoiding dealing with profit losses and confrontations with employees. Continue reading

Welcome to LeadershipHQ

Happy New Year! I have to say I am so excited about 2011. Don’t ask me why…maybe because I know this year is destined for great things for you, Leadership and me in the 21st Century.

Firstly, thank you for taking your precious time out to read my first blog post! I have been thinking for some time to start a blog and a few months back a wise astrologer told me that he saw on my chart that I was a great writer and I should start a blog, and wanted to know what was stopping me. What the?

What does stop us?  Fear, time, commitment? All of which I put my hand up to as useless excuses! Well he did say it was on my chart. Now who am I to detour from my chart and not go ahead with it? I am a tenacious Cancerian by the way and once I get my head and heart around something, there is no stopping me!

Why LeadershipHQ you might be asking (or not)? I did ponder for a while on this one. I felt LeadershipHQ  really encompassed what I am crazy and passionate about – Talent Management and Leadership Development and Effectiveness as well as knowledge sharing and best practice. Leadership Headquarters…what do you think? Don’t answer that one as my mind is already made up. Continue reading