Leadership and bureaucracy

Umair Haque is always good value if you want provocative thinking about the state of the world. He’s got some interesting things to say about the myth of leadership for instance: Leaders don’t lead. How did this particular skillset emerge? Influence counts because the vast, Kafkaesque bureaucracies that managed 20th century prosperity created, in turn, […]

Leadership in a self-organising world

Harrison Owen created or maybe he just channelled the Open Space process many years ago. He says he did so in two martinis and 20 minutes – pretty productive for a process that’s been used hundreds of thousands of times around the world. Here’s Harrison talking about the paradox of leadership in a self-organising world. […]

Thought leadership?

Related to what I just said about holding questions, I often feel anxious when people bang on about thought leadership. There’s no doubt there appears to be a huge market for big name experts, so I get the appeal. There’s something about setting out to be the expert people look up to that feels rather […]


I’m pretty phobic to most of what’s said after the word leadership is used in speeches or essays. But Dave Snowden’s recent succinct effort strikes me as dead sensible. Snippet: Not all great leaders are good communicators, fewer still are, or will ever be gifted story tellers. Ironically some of the worst leaders are only […]


James emailed me a link to this entertaining article. Does Your Leadership Development Strategy Include World of Warcraft? Obviously as a WoW addict I am biased but I think there’s something in it. I especially like the sharp dig at the current vogue for identifying “high potentials” in business. It links to this video about […]

The leadership delusion?

Phil Dourado also says research shows that bad leaders score themselves highly for leadership on self-assessment tests. Not so surprsing and it makes me wonder: how much of this is their personal capacity for self-delusion, and how much is a failure – for whatever reason – of people around them to put them right? I […]


It’s interesting how often Rudy Giuliani gets cited by books about leadership. He’s invoked as if he’s an unarguable archetype. For me this highlights a deep flaw running through most of what’s written about leadership, which I think is a displacement of a whole bundle of feelings. We invoke heroes to absolve ourselves of responsbility, […]

Leadership as participation

Phil Dorado highlights a little anedote from Richard Branson’s autobiography: “I…insist that we continually ask our staff for any suggestions they might have, and I try my hand at their jobs. When I tried pushing a trolley down the aisle of a jumbo I found I crashed into everyone. When I talked to the crew […]

Presence and leadership

I’m continuing to work through Presence. The chapter on presence as a form of leadership is one of the strongest for me. It articulates a non-heroic idea of leadership that I really agree with. Here’s the nub of the argument as articulated by co-author Betty Sue Flowers: One of the roadblocks for groups moving forward […]