Golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana qinlingensis) adult male yawning showing canines, Zhouzhi, Shaanxi, China. August 19

Leadership hack 004 – controlling the monkey

We all do it.  Someone questions the work that you have just completed or your thoughts on a topic or problem, and you feel the threatened.  You roll our eyes, become defensive or even worse, passive-aggressive.  Deep inside you know that your response is unhelpful, and does nothing to solve the problems you face or […]

The-Phoenix-Project-721 July 29

What you can learn from ‘The Phoenix Project’ by Gene Kim,Kevin Behr & George Spafford (2014, 338 pages)

How do you ensure that IT supports the business? How does your business transform in the digital age? In the book ‘The Phoenix Project, the authors argue that closer integration of development, operations and risk provide a competitive advantage by enabling the other business functions to succeed.  The authors argue that the ‘Three Ways’ are […]

Narcissus-Caravaggio_(1594-96)_edited July 29

Leadership hack 002 – Leadership – it is not about you

“People spend 99% of the time thinking about themselves. Actually, that’s probably a little low,” Liam Scott, speechwriter Could this statistic be correct?  While the evidence base for behind this particular claim is questionable, there is some research that does support the view that people spend the majority of the time thinking about themselves (see Scientific American). […]

oranges July 23

Leadership hack 003 – the key to negotiation is understanding why someone wants something

Imagine you are a parent with two children.  They are arguing over who has the last orange.  You have been asked to intervene, which of the follow options would you choose? Don’t let either child have the orange King of Solomon style, divide the orange in two and give each of the children half an orange Decide […]

9781118026243 July 23

What you can learn from ‘Agile project management for Dummies’ by Mark Layton (2012, 306 pages)

Being agile is now seen as a requirement for many companies.  Start-ups are agile, innovators are agile, cool companies are agile.  But what does agile mean?  What are the benefits of agile? And, how do you ‘do’ agile? There is a lot of writing about the ‘digital’ way of working, where companies are trying to […]

51DeoM263VL July 16

What you can learn from ‘Kanban’ by David Anderson (2010, 240 pages)

The kanban board (above) could often be found in many start-ups and incubators.  Now kanban boards are becoming more and more common in medium and large companies. Why are more and more companies adopting kanban methodologies, and is there more to Kanban than kanban boards? Dave Anderson’s book ‘Kanban’ answers all these questions and more.  The main […]

3d people - man, person and cubes with word SKILL July 16

Leadership hack 001 – understanding skill and will

Much leadership advice is generic.  In this series of posts, I aim to explore tactical tips for leaders to use when facing a specific problem. How do you turn around a poor performing follower? Understanding whether the follower has a lack of skill or lack of will (or even both) is essential to understanding how you […]

81wffPkEW7L July 08

What you can learn from ‘Sprint’ by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky & Braden Kowitz (2016, 220 pages)

How do you deliver a product or service that customers want?  How do you make progress in a short time on a critical project? Agile methodology (see the last book I reviewed here) suggests that work should be approached in short bursts of intense activity or ‘sprints’.  In these sprints, you can bring the right people […]

1437418340977 July 08

Can leadership be defined? Part 6 – The answer

Over the last four posts, I have explored the four common definitions of leadership – person, process, results and position.  By analysing each of these, it is possible to show that each type of definition has both strengths and weakness. Leadership definitions which rely on a leader’s position while evident, are unhelpful.  By defining a leader as […]

Alphonse_de_Neuville_-_The_defence_of_Rorke's_Drift_1879_-_Google_Art_Project July 01

Can leadership be defined? Part 5 – What do process based definitions of leadership tell us? By Max Eskell

Leaders provide vision, priorities and alignment. Robert Kaplan Process definitions of leadership attempt to define leaders by what they do and how they behave.  A quick trawl of Flipboard, LinkedIn or even military valour citations (the photo shows the Battle of Rorke’s Drift), shows that leaders are expected to do certain things or behave in a certain […]

51s2gkMEa1L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ July 01

What you can learn from ‘Scrum – The art of doing twice the work in half the time’ by Jeff Sutherland (2014, 231 pages)

There any many who believe that the way we work in the modern world is broken.  Some people argue that modern work fails to allow workers to self-actualize (see Barry Schwartz TED talk) and others who argue that the processes we have in place are corrosive (see Huffington post article).  While there have been many suggestions of how […]

beck-alex-1441095935-800 June 24


“Leaders are right a lot” Amazon principle of leadership Results based definitions of leadership are very compelling.  Increasing profits, successful product launches or double-digit growth in revenues growth, are all easily verifiable examples of success, which many people ascribe to leadership.  However, others are more cautious, and ask “can you attribute to success to one person?“. […]


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