Are you destined to become a great leader?

It seems to me that as we look around politics and business life, there is a real dearth of great leadership.

What do I mean by great leadership? Let me clarify.

In my view a ‘great’ leader should not be confused with either a famous (or infamous) leader. Leaders can achieve notoriety for all the right, but also many of the wrong, reasons.  Leaders can achieve success through manipulation, threats, bullying and exclusion. To me, the truly great leader positively influences a group. They maximise human, financial and environmental capital, and then motivate those they lead to achieve great things.

A great leader does their job to the highest personal and ethical standards. In doing so, they gain the utmost respect from their peers and team, whether on the factory floor, running a scout troop or even leading a country.

Why do we need great leaders?

Great leaders are important to:

  •  Your team: The effectiveness of the majority is either positively or negatively impacted by their leaders. Research demonstrates that most people need, indeed want, to be led. Many have no desire to lead other people. That’s fine. But leaders of character will expect this broader group of people to lead themselves effectively, even if they (understandably) do not want to lead others. While there is some debate around whether a person would leave a job because of their leader, we know the experience of having a great leader and mentor in early years development, often stays with people throughout their entire career. And always remember that future great leaders may be members of your own team!
  • Your organisation: According to The Business Management Report, 2017: “Employees who are happy and feel in control are 57% more likely to be engaged and 53% more likely to be productive.” Failing to recognise that most people are not interested or courageous enough to step up and lead, is the single greatest mistake of the organisations that I have worked with over the last twenty years. Where they think about people at all, organisations still subscribe to the idea that, “people are our most valuable asset”. They’re not. Leaders of character are your organisation’s most valuable asset!

So, do you have what it takes?

It’s my assertion that anyone can be a great leader. Some may have more challenges to face along the way, but being a great leader is accessible to all.

But to be a great leader requires you to look deeply at your ‘self’.

If you aspire to lead at any level, you need to take time to analyse your current skill set, embrace fully the idea of being a leader and commit to continually developing your ‘self’ to become the best leader you can be.

What areas should you focus on?

In our book, Leader iD, David Pilbeam and I codified four years of research into five key human characteristics of highly developed leaders:

  • Discovery – You have a deep spirit and love of learning. You look for better ways of doing things, and shamelessly take ideas from one context and apply them to your own.
  • Determination – Leadership can be tough. You are going to need huge reserves of resilience, energy and courage to lead effectively when times are challenging – which they most certainly will be.
  • Perspective – Developmental psychology suggests that the more perspectives a person can hold indicates their levels of intellectual/emotional/cognitive/personal Challenge yourself to look at things from a different point of view.
  • Balance – Are you able to hold things in balance? Can you really challenge your team while also providing support? Can you manage speed and reflection? The need for both action and consideration?
  • Compassion – Your ability to be genuinely empathetic and supportive with those you lead.

Take action to become a great leader now

I believe that while we are all born with a range of abilities, the five characteristics above can be developed by anyone. But only if you build on your strengths, recognise and accept areas of improvement, and take time to work on those areas so they also become your strengths.

Practising your leadership is essential. Initially on yourself, then with your team. Work at leadership all the time. Reflect on success and failures. Why did you achieve the result you did? How could you have reached a different outcome. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, from peers, colleagues and your team.

In my experience, there are no shortcuts, to becoming a great leader. It is a lifelong commitment. But it is one that is within your grasp, if you’re prepared to focus on and develop your leadership ‘self’.

Dr Glenn P Wallis, Executive and Leadership Coach

This article first appeared on The Royal Society of Arts online blog 12 September 2018

Leader iD, written by David Pilbeam and Glenn Wallis is published by Pearson UK, Business Book of the Month in W H Smith Travel outlets August 2018 and is available to purchase at all good bookstores and online.

 

Why Leader iD is more than just a book

As experienced qualified coaches, David Pilbeam and I have always shared a vision to create affordable development tools for ambitious leaders in the early stages of their careers.

Leader iD, published this month by Pearson, and currently WH Smith Travel Business Book of the Month, is one such example. It’s filled with tools and advice, and is based on our experiences of coaching and developing successful leaders.

Anyone who buys Leader iD, can also take a FREE online Diagnostic Assessment  to assess their leadership profile and development needs.

Completion of the assessment results in a confidential Personalised Profile Report identifying each leader’s strengths and areas for improvement. That’s a great way to get the best from the book.

But the book is only half the story…

The Leader iD Development Programme

For those leaders who want to really invest in their development, we created an innovative Online Leader iD Development Programme.

It’s presented in practical modules and includes 45 podcasts, nine videos and a comprehensive Workbook with hundreds of questions, and a ‘deep-dive’ exercise to make the learning stick.

You could view the programme as a tailored roadmap for professional growth. It’s ideal for new and aspiring leaders and costs just £99 for individuals. That feels like a small price to pay for being the best leader you can be!

Could this be a solution for your leadership team?

At a time when L&D budgets are under pressure, it strikes us that we could also offer the Leader iD Online Development Programme to corporate customers (with a volume discount, of course)!

If you’re interested in a low-cost, easy access and comprehensive development programme for your future leaders, feel free to give me a call on +44 (0) 20 3858 7337 to learn more.

 

Dr Glenn P Wallis, The Leadership Coach

Leader iD, published by Pearson, is currently WH Smith Travel Business Book of the Month and is also available to purchase at all good bookstores and online.

©Glenn P Wallis Ltd

 

Coaching future leaders

The more the Glenn P Wallis team coach senior leaders, the more we believe that coaching should also be available at an earlier stage in a leader’s career, especially for those identified as ‘talent’ for future leadership roles.

These future leaders would often benefit from improved confidence, greater self-awareness, increased leadership skills and higher role engagement much earlier in their careers. They will then be able to ‘hit the ground running’ when promoted to more senior executive roles.

But organisations can be put off coaching large numbers of leaders because of cost.

Which is why we created Compact Coaching®

Compact Coaching® is an affordable proprietary high-quality, time-efficient coaching methodology. It is suited to middle and junior leaders within an organisation, delivered in large volumes and high frequency. It is also suited to managers in organisations undergoing business transformation or culture change. It is the new coaching method that embeds targeted change through a “little and often” approach.

Compact Coaching® is available to groups of 20 or more. Delivery can be tailored to specific needs but normally each participant has monthly twenty-minute individual coaching sessions via telephone or Skype (or equivalent) over the space of a year.

Is it really worth the investment?

In our experience, the organisation will benefit from leadership skills reaching and shaping a large-scale leadership tier. Other benefits include improved organisational alignment, increased leadership engagement and better business performance.

For example we delivered a blended leadership development programme for a UK bank that resulted in a Return on Investment of over 340%.

Click here for further information about Compact Coaching® or Contact us

©Glenn P Wallis Ltd

 

 

Why leaders need coaching  

The coaching industry is poor at explaining to leaders the benefits of employing a highly skilled executive coach. Coaches at Glenn P Wallis have met executives who perceive the work we do as, ‘soft and fluffy’ and not suited to the fast-paced outcome-focused world in which they operate.

Great coaching, done by highly experienced and qualified coaches, works – we explain why.

Adopting a non-judgemental approach, executive coaches meet their clients ‘where they are’ and investigate:

  • the client’s understanding of what they are experiencing, coupled with feedback from other key parties
  • what they and their sponsor think are the areas to focus on
  • the real underlying needs that present during this process.

The best executive coaches do their best to empathise and take time to investigate. They appreciate the systems and environment in which the executive is working.

Highly skilled in understanding people and the psychology of high performance, the best coaches will take a pragmatic view rather than an idealised one.

Great executive coaches provide insights and feedback, to the executive, that people in their organisation can’t or won’t provide, including:

  • dealing with the challenges of relentless pressure
  • leadership style and behaviours that will undermine their credibility
  • communications/relationships with the C-Suite leadership team.

As a result of coaching, previous executive clients have told us they have been able to bring greater awareness to the way they lead. They now benefit from:

  • increased confidence
  • a greater clarity of purpose
  • improved leadership skills
  • greater engagement
  • enhanced resilience and wellness
  • more refined organisational behaviours.

A professional, qualified coach supports an executive to be the best leader they can be, which is far from soft or fluffy.

Glenn P Wallis

Coaching for Leaders and Executives

Click here for further information about Coaching for Leaders and Executives or Contact us

©Glenn P Wallis Ltd

Coaching vs. Mentoring the C-Suite Executive’s Dilemma

There is a misconception that top senior executives and business leaders no longer require a leadership coach, rather an adviser (mentor) who has been in the role successfully in the past.

We, at Glenn P Wallis, believe that this is an assertion built on erroneous thinking. Each C-Suite Executive is very different to the next. It assumes that a mentor’s experience will be of more benefit at a different time and potentially in very different circumstances.

So that does beg the question – how many ex-C-Suite Executives are forward thinking qualified coaches with a commitment to CPD?

The areas of development that the C-Suite Executive requires, will determine the success of the support they receive. A former CEO may be a brilliant mentor, but would they know how to coach effectively? Would they possess the skillset to spot and explore such areas as:

  • faulty thinking
  • personal bias
  • self-limiting beliefs
  • values conflict
  • projection
  • transference
  • counter-transference?

It’s unlikely, unless they have sufficient development in the skills of coaching.

At Glenn P Wallis, it is our firm belief that highly advanced coaching skills, coupled with being a former CEO, would make for the best coaching solution. However, omit the former and you are left with high quality advice that may or may not be fit for purpose. Omit the latter, and what remains is high quality coaching.

In our experience, high quality coaching trumps high quality advice for long-term career success. Because as the old saying goes: give a person a fish and they can feed themselves for a day, or teach them to fish and they can feed themselves forever.

Glenn P Wallis

Coaching for Leaders and Executives

Click here for further information about Coaching for Leaders and Executives or Contact us

©Glenn P Wallis Ltd

3 ways leadership subtlety can improve your pace

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Senior leaders in today’s workplace are required to work quickly. Almost all the time. The expectation is that executives make often quite complex decisions, rapidly. Everyone has to iterate innovation at speed. Many senior leaders I am asked to work with are approaching exhaustion at the relentless pace of work. The challenge here is that the rate of change is not likely to slow down very much any time soon. So how can leaders learn to cope better in this lighting-fast environment? One way to achieve greater capability to work at this pace, is to develop leadership subtlety. In this post, we’ll explore what I mean by leadership subtlety; how it can improve your pace and how to develop the kind of nuance that the very best leaders demonstrate.

What is leadership subtlety?

For the purposes of this article, ‘leadership subtlety’ refers to leaders developing the capacity to respond to situations and to other people, in the widest range of ways. This flexibility of styles is a mark of mature leadership. Mature leadership is not a function of time in the role. There are plenty of examples of very new leaders who have the range of approaches available to them, that engages their team and ensures delivery of great performance. For the sake of balance, leaders who have been in post for a long time but lack the subtlety of leadership approach, are legion.
Leadership subtlety is the direct result of a developed leader. The human being that is the leader, has high levels of awareness, sophisticated worldviews that allow them to be comfortable with paradox, accept the views of others, even when (especially when) they do not accord with those of the leader. Leadership subtlety enables many views and truths to be held together.

What are the three ways leadership subtlety improves pace?

1. Leaders who display the sort of sophisticated thinking and action that we are talking about here, are more likely to focus on the job of leading because they don’t need to be operational. They are clear on their role. They avoid working at a level that is inappropriate to the job they have. This ‘role discipline’ provides greater impact and value across the organisation. Leaders focusing on leadership avoid getting wrapped up in the operational parts of their function. Not easy but vital.
2. Leadership subtlety is accessible to leaders who have a lower ego-need. Such leaders do not need to be the centre of attention, they encourage the ‘best people for the job’ to take control. Leaders who have lower ego needs tend to trust others more. Their ability to retain an idea of the ‘big picture’ allows them to remain more open to ideas and avoid the ‘my way or the highway’ trap so many leaders can fall into.
3. Linked to the previous point, a highly nuanced approach to leadership allows leaders to be more comfortable with glorious failures. Brave attempts that do not produce the desired results, are not an assault on the identity of the leader. Nor are such lacks of success a prompt for criticising the originators of the idea and plan. In such subtlety of leadership approach lies the germ of risk taking, innovation, rapid iteration, agile work. Why? Because people led by such leaders are not scared to make a decision, try something out or just crack on.

Develop yourself to develop your leadership

Developing your ‘Self’ as a human being enables you to live a more fulfilled life but also allows you to lead much more effectively. Your ability to align your actions to your values and your role, improves markedly. Encouraging the creativity and uniqueness of others, maximises the resources of those you lead. Remaining squarely in your leadership role supports high performance and confidence in others too. You working on you, will aid your ability to succeed as a leader in these fast-paced times.
Dr Glenn P Wallis is the Director of Wallis Partnership Ltd a specialised leadership consultancy. When your organisation is ready to make effective leadership a business imperative, you can contact us here we would be delighted to hear from you.

To serve them all my days

This piece first appeared in our book “How to become a Talented Performer: A formula for early career success” available at Amazon here


“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Service

Talented Performers recognise and understand that creating a consistently excellent customer experience ‘is’ the business and not just a component of it. The best providers of outstanding customer service are not willing to sacrifice this standard, regardless of the pressures put upon them by the job. They know they may be working in an organisational setting that cares less about customers than they do, yet they continue to provide an incredible level of performance. It is as important to them as individuals to give such great service as it is to the people that they serve to receive it. They know that results and the impacts of their efforts may not be reciprocated immediately (even though they often are!)but they are willing to continue to focus on the person they are delivering for. They are ‘others-aware’ and know that to serve someone else, to a high level on a consistent basis, is not a capability everyone finds easy. Their developed skills in this area are something that organisations view as incredibly valuable.

Another key element of providing this level of service on a consistent, minute-by-minute basis, is that Talented Performers accurately know what great service is. They know what it is to receive it; they know what it is to deliver it and they understand the mind-set and the skills required to nail it each and every time. They also know that to serve excellently is not the same as being a doormat to be walked all over. There is huge difference to being keen to serve and being servile. The former is both an intelligent and honourable position to take; the latter is the position taken by those who lack self-assuredness and/or who misunderstand the difference.

Customer experience vs Customer Service

These two terms are often used in the same sentence to mean different things or in different sentences to mean the same thing. They actually do not mean the same thing. Customer experience is wide, broad and usually something that is systematically addressed at an organisational level. Customers experience an organisation in many ways, including from the reputation they ‘hear’ about, to the advertising they ‘see’, through to how they ‘feel’ about your brand. Customer service is, by comparison, narrow. It is the interactions that customers have directly with staff. In the context of being a customer-focused Talented Performer, we will limit our discussion to the ways that employees interact with customers to provide customer service on an individual basis, usually face-to-face.

Internal vs External

At this point it is important to identify a special category of customers. There are people who are almost certainly never going to pay you a penny for your work: they are the people within your organisation that you support and to whom you provide a service. Your ‘internal’ customers are at least as important as the customers from outside your organisation. You interact with these people on a daily basis. You know some incredibly well, others less so. Some internal customers are peers of yours and some are senior (or very senior) to you. Regardless of their status, you need to be able to provide what they need, when they need it and at a quality that is at least as good as they hoped for. Everything outlined in this chapter is applicable to your interactions with internal customers. Adopting these strategies and tools will enable you to provide outstanding service to your peers, colleagues and team-members as well as those we more traditionally think of as customers

Customers: Why bother?

The Talented Performer Survey highlighted key short to medium-term business challenges that organisations reported they were facing. Central to the list that emerged from the survey was the theme of Growth. Organisations told us that they were focused on keeping current clients and finding new ones. People who succeeded in providing outstanding service were likely to be recognised and rewarded for doing so as it was vital in helping organisations achieve their aims.

Glenn P Wallis helps organisations develop leaders who can positively shape your organisation’s culture. If you want to re-shape your culture through great leadership then please contact Glenn here.

Hidden impacts of leadership progression

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What got you here hasn’t got them here

Your continued rise up the leadership ranks is due, in part, to your ability to deliver high standards. I’m guessing you achieve such goals due to your internal drivers. You would continue to deliver these strong results even when your own boss doesn’t recognise your work. You succeed because of the intrinsic reward you get from seeing a job well done. It’s satisfying.

This motivated approach of the classic self-starter, gets recognised by someone within the organisation and you end up being promoted and asked to lead others. The hope is that you will be able to sprinkle larger and larger teams with some of the magic that you have been seen to apply to your own work. The Board, major shareholders and other key stakeholder will want you to be able to clone yourself.

Unique

And of course, that hope of replicating your talents in others, presents a massive and rather fundamental problem. It can’t be done. Moreover, of all the people tasked with such a challenge, you may be one of the worst placed to achieve it.

What you do comes naturally – to you.

If we accept, you and I are uniquely different, it suggests rather than assume I am able or willing to do what you do in the way that you do it, that you as my leader help me find my own ways to achieve, which fit me better. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the approach to external recognition. We know you don’t need it (much) but it’s likely that I do. If you apply your own standards to me, I am likely to become de-motivated. I need the energy and learning that comes directly from you providing me with feedback and yes, even some praise now and again. If I were motivated in the same way that you are, I would be sitting where you are. I’m not. I’m me and you are you.Stop thinking that I work in the same way you do. I don’t. Give me some recognition. Provide me with some feedback. Stretch me. Support me. I can flourish in my own way.

Glenn provides support for organisations that want to improve a wide range of business results through improving their leadership strength. When you are ready to create a strong leadership bench you can contact Glenn here.

6 Ways to improve Bad Behaviour

i“Heroes are those who can somehow resist the power of the situation and act out of noble motives, or behave in ways that do not demean others when they easily can.”

Philip G Zimbardo

The context-specific nature of behaviour

Today’s acceptable behaviour may become tomorrow’s abhorrence. It is difficult to make moral judgement about behaviour in the past and compare it to what we know and the standards we hold today. The sexist nature of much of the treatment of women in the workplace is a relevant example. In the not so distant past, women were denied some workplace roles because of their gender. Something that would, (hopefully!), now be considered unconscionable.

Similarly, in relation to senior leaders who once used a singular leadership style towards their ‘subordinates,’ regularly berating or belittling them, would be held to account in most (!) large organisations today.

Things move on. Expectations change. And so should the standards of behaviour that shareholders, customers and employees should demand of those that are designated to lead UK businesses and organisations.

Behaviour begets behaviour

The word ‘toxic’ in relation to behaviour has been used a fair bit in recent years. The analogy to an infection that spreads, when applied to organisational behaviour, turns out to be incredibly apt. According to research, highly effective leaders promote better business performance not just of those they lead, but from those in the layer below those they directly lead. Whilst this is great if your organisation is full of brilliant leaders, the bad news is that negative leadership behaviour is more ‘infectious’ than positive behaviour. So if you have leaders demonstrating poor behaviour, not only will that impact those around them but can outweigh the impacts of an equal number of highly effective leaders.

So, not only is there a multiplying effect to bad behaviour but it directly has a number of negative impacts on those that are on the receiving end of poor leadership behaviour, namely:

  1. Less effort employed to tasks and projects
  2. Less time spent at work
  3. Less commitment to the organisations vision
  4. Reduced work quality
  5. Increase in time wasted on reacting to poor behaviour Lower customer service scores

(e.g. Wegge et al, 2015)

How to improve bad behaviour

As a senior leader, here are six ways that you can make a positive impact to negative leadership behaviours:

Reward appropriately.
It is possible that your reward system actually – probably inadvertently – increases rewards for behaviours that would be considered negative. An example might be in a sales environment where the ‘what’ is rewarded but the ‘how’ those sales are achieved, is not considered in the ultimate reward structure.

Provide feedback
Ensure that as a senior leader you are providing timely, clear feedback about behaviour you witness that is inappropriate. Here is a brilliant tip from Lieutenant General David Morrison about the idea of nipping poor behaviour in the bud, “The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.” It takes a bit of moral courage to do tackle things but much easier to do so early than leave things to fester and impact others.

Provide development
Feedback is usually only helpful if it is accompanied by some development opportunity. Break the mindset that suggests learning needs to be formalised. Help people learn by doing. Get them a mentor or a coach. Meet with them on a weekly basis and you ‘teach’ them. Whatever it takes to help them improve.

Role model appropriately
As a leader you are always role modelling, so bear that in mind from the moment you enter your place of work. Proactively consider how you want to ‘show up.’ In fact, you are always role modelling to yourself, so actually you need to bear that in mind every minute of every day. Forever.

Hire for behaviours
You can reduce the amount of poor behaviour by recruiting in a more targeted way in the first place. Be clear on what you are looking for in new team members. Consider the values you want people to be able to demonstrate and then recruit against that – at times, even at the expense of technical skills, if you have to, these can always be taught later.

Conduct exit interviews
When people leave and move on to hopefully even better things, ask them about their experience on your team. Discuss behaviours that helped and behaviours that hindered them being able to produce brilliant work every day. Start with providing them the space to review your behaviours first!

“I learned along the way, you know, culture is behaviour. That’s all it is; culture is people’s behaviour” Ginni Rometty

Great leadership inspires and demands wonderful behaviours, that in themselves generate incredible workplace cultures. When you need help developing highly effective leaders you can contact Glenn P Wallis here.

 

How you can lead high performance

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Do you sometimes think that you are too soft in your leadership approach? Are people tending to abuse both your helpful nature and your willingness to give them a second, third or fourth chance? Or are you getting feedback that your leadership style is way too demanding – people might throw around terms such as ‘abrasive,’ ‘direct’ or behind your back ‘tyrant’ or worse, ‘bully’?

If you recognise either of these scenarios it would appear that you currently have a critical leadership balance that is somewhat out of whack. Your supportive side is outweighing your challenging side, or you are being too challenging and insufficiently supportive. Both lead to problems and thankfully, both can be easily remedied. This article will help you understand:

  • your ‘typical’ balance of challenge and support
  • the changes you can make towards a more effective balance
  • why flexibility is so important

Not an exact science

Whilst the idea can be traced back to Nevitt Sanford’s work (1962) that a combination of support and challenge promotes growth, there is little empirical evidence to suggest exactly what the best blend of challenge and support should be to illicit development in someone. However, if we accept that growth stalls in an environment which is either too tough and demanding, or too soft and cosy, then we can take some time to look at how you manage to create the best environment for people to flourish and develop.

Start with one

In my experience the key to striking the right balance in terms of the degrees of support and challenge you apply, rests on your understanding of the individuals that you lead. The first person you need to understand better is you.

What are the reasons you are tending to lead in the way that you do? It is possible you are too supportive because you think that is the most effective way to get the best from people or you are concerned that if you are too demanding that you will have to face conflict from people in your team. It could be that your experience of other leaders throughout your career has been of domineering, highly directive types and you have assumed that is how you need to be. Whatever the rationale for you leading as you do, understanding yourself as a leader is almost always the first port of call.

For what it’s worth: As an observation of work with hundreds of senior leaders, the balance, if any, tends to lean more frequently towards insufficiently challenging.

In tandem with greater levels of self-awareness, the level of understanding you have for each member of your ‘team’ will impact the level of challenge and support you can apply effectively. Deep knowledge that appreciates both the individual, whilst being really mindful of their current state, works best. For example, take Mike who is generally robust and has demonstrated high levels of resilience to your challenges of his performance in the past but who is currently struggling with the recent death of his father. Mike may well require additional support from you (Note: he may or may not need less challenge!) Or take Mariana, historically quite a meek woman in your experience, she has just successfully led a major proposal with senior players in her project team: She may well benefit from some increased challenge to build on the current momentum she has (Note: She may or may not need ongoing high levels of support from you.)

Increasing challenge

Based on highly individualised knowledge of the members of your team, here are a number of example factors that will increase how much challenge you are applying:

– Increase the complexity of a given task you want resolved
– Reduce the time-scales required
– Improve the quality of output required
– Deepen levels of detail expected
– Raise the status of the audience of any output for a task

Increasing support

Where you need to increase support you can work towards the opposites of the list above. You could also seek to spend more time understanding the individual human being that works ‘for’ you, deepening the relationship. You can also provide support by getting more involved yourself but there is a danger in that approach, which I have written about often. I would avoid that unless it is *in extremis* because it can lead to you getting too involved in the operational side of your work.

Be flexible

So, in order to get the very best out of those in your team, you need to be aware of the support you are supplying and the challenge your are applying at all times. People (often your “go-to” people) may need you to reduce the challenge after extended periods of high demand, similarly, those who have been cut some slack, may now need you to increase the heat but don’t make such changes on the hoof discuss it with each individual to check that your assessment of them is correct before you change gears.

Dr Glenn P Wallis is a leadership consultant who helps organisations improve key performance results through developing highly effective leaders. If you would like Glenn to help you develop your leadership bench, contact him here. Thank you.