Stephan Thoma was responsible for learning & development at Google and now advises mostly European companies embracing the Silicon Valley spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. He gave an inspiring talk to a group of leadership professionals gathered by Circleradius. He confirmed the common beliefs about leadership at the GAFA’s (Google, Amazon, Facebook & Apple) &…
The other day I was reading the hobbies of several C-level executives. And once again I found the usual suspects: cooking, history, art, classical music, old-timers, wine, golf, walking in the mountains … I’ve always wondered, do they do this because it is just part of the social class they belong to (cf. Bourdieu)? Or do they really enjoy it?  And why have these hobbies…
The other day I was reading the hobbies of several C-level executives. And once again I found the usual suspects: cooking, history, art, classical music, old-timers, wine, golf, walking in the mountains … I’ve always wondered, do they do this because it is just part of the social class they belong to (cf. Bourdieu)? Or do they really enjoy it?  And why have these hobbies never…
Notions as shared leadership spread easily in organizations. They have a seductive power. “Everybody a leader” or “we all lead together”: who could oppose to such an idea? An employee resisting that promise of empowerment, emancipation, voice is easily seen as negative or lacking sense of responsibility. Leadership development suffers from the same kind of political correctness.…
Many years ago, I sang Leonard Cohens Bird on a wire over and over again as a lullaby for my twin baby sons. It was one of the few songs I knew by heart. 'Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.' I sang it as much for them as for myself. New fathers know what I’m talking about. It’s a song about struggling your way to life…
Paul was a brilliant young engineer when he started in the IT network department of an international utility company. He soon became key in the team of network designers and when the department grew, he was elected team leader. By the age of 33, Paul was network manager with an undisputed reputation of network expertise.  He worked very hard, but his team became frustrated. Paul…
I’m a fraud, or at least that is how I feel sometimes when I’m driving home after a day of work. It is only a matter of time before they will discover that I’m not up to the job.  I've heard these sentences 5 times over the last 2 weeks. And they all came from people in high places: a CEO from a SME, a managing partner from a consulting agency, a school headmaster, and 2…
When I started 3,5 years ago with The Future Leadership Initiative, I had no idea where my journey would lead to. Meanwhile I know one thing: leadership is riding a bumpy road through a vast landscape. The landscape stretches from "how to make the world a better place as a global leader", over "how to lead your own inner theater and build circles of trust", to "how to lead a project,…
Due to the increasing complex problems we are facing as individuals, organizations, institutions, society, the  ‘genius with a thousand helpers leadership model’ is more and more replaced by ‘shared leadership’. This has implications for leadership development.   Let me start by being 'the master of the obvious' by stating that the old idea of having 1 professor or…
As mentioned here and here, the role of the middle manager is transforming to the point that they may be the most important people in your company today (Mollick, 2011). There are a multitude of reasons for this, but just to mention two: 1)      More horizontal structures increase the importance of middle managers in achieving competitive advantage (Floyd & Wooldridge,…
“Which leadership book or training can you recommend me? How can I become a middle leader?” These simple questions require very complex answers if you consider all dimensions of leadership. Day, Harrison and Halpin (2009) advocate an integrative model of leadership development with three levels. The first, visible level targets skills. Leadership is a question of expertise.…
When I tell people that I am conducting research on mindfulness, I often get frowns. "You are supposed to be a serious academic. How can you be involved into this wishy-washy, spiritual stuff?" After very mindfully accepting my frustration I accept this feedback and explain. True ... mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist spirituality and true ... for some mindfulness is considered…