Friday 25 November 2022

The Nine Essential Pursuits Of Wise Leaders

I've had the great honour and privilege since 1990 to be in the room with more than a million people as a professional speaker. Audiences have been as small as 5 people and as large as 5000 people.

Half of my 3000+ presentations have been in the smaller (5 - 50 people) workshop, breakout, and peer group settings, where I have been able to observe and interact the most and therefore learn the most. 

Since 2012 I've specialised in hosting human being centred conversations with groups of three to nine people. Since 2018 these have mostly been online. 

In Wise Leaders Community this means weekly and monthly interaction with the same people. Wise Leaders Community is the current name of what has been several incarnations since I began working with peer groups in 1985. Many clients have been engaged for a decade and some for longer.

The following nine pursuits are where members of Wise Leaders Community are giving and focusing their energy in their own best way.

1. Continuously unearth, enhance and magnify your essence

Voice, song and music are my favourite metaphors for our essence, our unique personal significance or one-of-a-kind character. 

For me a key role of people leadership is the art of seeing, sometimes unearthing, mostly magnifying and enhancing people's essence including your own.

Learn more via this four minutes and 50 seconds podcast.

2. Design and follow on-a-page, in a sentence, and in one word, focusing tools

I updated overviews of these three tools two days ago here.

3. Tell Stories

One of my signature programs is The We Need To Talk Experience. It follows a proven process:

I kick off each episode of We Need To Talk with a story. Prior to the story I make the following statement which has been my presentation opening line for over twenty years.

What I say is important,
Yet nowhere near as important,
As what you hear yourself say to yourself,
Who you become and what you do next.

Following my story participants share what they heard themselves say to themselves and then some share a story themselves which leads to further conversation. 

This combination of stories and conversations is profound and leads to appropriate action decisions for individuals. 

Help is then available as people implement their decisions as well as integrate new learnings with what is already working well.

4. Engage in sparkenation conversations

I coined the term sparkenation in my 2011 book Changing What's Normal. Sparkenation - a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal.

I believe that most of us hang on to the status quo (normal) for too long when it is no longer serving us. 

For me sameness is the enemy of significance if it is not serving our best interests and enabling us to live and work in the service of others.

Sparkenation conversations are a hallmark of our work at Wise Leaders Community. There are 48 (as I write this) recorded sparkenation conversations on my YouTube channel here.

To get Storytelling Sparkenation Conversations happening at your workplace, community group, sports club or in your team/cohort please give me a call on +61 418 807 898 and we will begin to design and implement a program together.

5. Reach and sustain shared-view

Most of our troubles, personal, local, organisational, national, and international, are fundamentally based in our perceived need to hang onto the world in here (my view), our issues with the world out there (other people's views), and, our failure to focus more on the world we share (ours).

The exciting news is that when we find and sustain shared-view (ours) we can triumph over all our troubles.

There's a complimentary online course here that enables you to take action on each of the twelve areas of significance of shared-view.

6. Live, learn and lead from your heart

Heart-Leadership is my latest solo book.

A companion to the book is 28 complimentary videos that you will find here that will help you to live, learn and lead from your heart. 24 of the videos are under five minutes. You will find short and sharp podcasts at the link too.

7. Invest in pre and post work to guarantee greatest return on investment

In 2005 I began applying research completed in 2004 by Dr. Brent Peterson from Columbia University.

He found that 50% of learning happens after an event and 26% prior to an event.

The consequences of applying this research have been profound for my clients.

Learn more about this here. Then apply in your own best way.

8. Follow an innovation process

I created an eight stage process to help my clients to learn and take action. 

It’s turned into a way to guarantee innovation and progress. 

It’s also a track I use regardless of the kind of work I’m doing or the event I’m conducting.  

I’m taking people on a journey from information to insight to inspiration to idea/s to implementation to introspection to integration to innovation. This is my fundamental methodology.

There's a four minutes and 22 seconds podcast about this here.

More recently I have combined the pre and post concept with my 8 stages to innovation methodology. There's an article about this here.

I highly recommend this combined process.

9. Live in a world of infinite possibility, shifting when the status quo is no longer serving you

There's a two minutes and forty-six seconds podcast here. 

Here is the accompanying blog post.

In the blog I recommend two actions:

I recommend two actions 1) Watch and/or listen to the Seth Godin piece on possibility and enrollment. 

2) Undertake my Shifting from reality (what is) to Possibility (What Can Be) exercise. This will help greatly with enrollment.

Become the wise leader you want to be.


Wednesday 23 November 2022

An Open Letter to Corporate Business - guest post by Richard Merrick

This is a guest post by my friend and colleague Richard Merrick.

This is a difficult letter to write. We’ve been together for over forty years, and for the most part, it has been a productive relationship. I’ve made money for you, and you have provided me with a stable way of making a living. We’ve had our ups and downs and spent time apart, but in the end, we found we needed each other and always got back together. This time though, it’s different, and I owe it to you to tell you why.

When we first got together, I was full of enthusiasm, and a hunger born of wanting to prove myself and a need to earn a living. You were a respected part of our community, and even though you could be, well, somewhat assertive; arrogant even, I believed you had my interests in mind and went along with the way you wanted me to dress; managers who used their titles as a proxy for competence, and those funny training courses you got me to do. I was part of a cohort of other people who joined at the same time, and I enjoyed their company as we laughed at your idiosyncracies together.

And you can be a smooth operator when you want to be. I enjoyed the promotions, the money, the toys and the apparent status that came with them. They fed my (not inconsiderable) ego, and I came to define myself on your terms. In some strange version of Stockholm syndrome, I became attached to you even as you consumed my waking hours, kept me away from family, as I progressed up the hierarchy, doing things I didn’t like to people I did to keep other people in “The City” happy.

As in most abusive relationships, I thought I could change you. After all, what you were doing was clearly harming you. The actions we took to look after your short-term obsessions left good people demotivated - inside the company and out. People who just checked out - either physically or mentally (the current obsession with “quiet quitting:” makes me smile. It’s nothing new) and good suppliers who found themselves out in the cold, treated as commodities, not partners for the sake of a fraction of a percentage point of margin.

The first separation, like bankruptcy, happened gradually, then suddenly. As your psychosis deepened and your blind pursuit of “returns” ate ever more surely into the moral fabric I believed you had when we first met, my circumstances changed. Twenty-five years had gone by, and the excuses I had given myself for staying with you - the mortgage and the children’s education - disappeared as my promises to them were fulfilled. All that was left was the counterfeit status, the money and the executive toys. A fairly powerful form of buyer’s remorse set in, and so I handed them back, resolved never to put myself in a position like that with an employer again.

But I still believed in business as a force for good and set out to work independently, with businesses and people I liked, doing things I believed in. They were different - smaller, run by founders for whom the business mattered and who had the agency to be able to make more grounded decisions about the future. (I do have a confession. I did relapse and work for big organisations now and again. I still cannot believe the amount of money people with budgets, rather than ownership, will pay for consultancy that rarely changes anything of substance. It’s as easy as selling botox)

Then we had 2008, the outpouring of money into “too big to fail” and the creation of corporate hegemony. Bigger than business, bigger than politics and when married to technology, we have ourselves a monster. A Wetiko - the mythical beast of North American folklore whose hunger increases in proportion to what it consumes, making it continually ravenous for more.

And so we come to, for me, a second parting. Corporate business has lost its autonomy, and is in a singular thrall to money to the exclusion of all else.

I still believe in business, but we have to reimagine it for society's good. To make it a partner, not a malign master. It is a challenge, but we have to start somewhere.

I think it’s about leadership. It starts with people who want to build a business that reflects their own values rather than those who are happy to compromise and serve remote shareholders with their eyes shut. Businesses that are grounded in communities rather than consuming them. Built by those with an eye for beauty and an instinct for legacy.

It starts with individuals, then small groups, and then groups of groups. It is about communities in their truest sense. If we get the groups right, the rest will follow.

So, corporate business, I’m leaving you for another, altogether more compelling vision of what business can be. And I’m not alone. Those people who are “quietly quitting” are actually quietly joining another idea, because, to borrow a sporting metaphor, you’ve lost the dressing room.

Watching you become who you now are has been sad, but I am no longer interested in rescuing you. I’m not sure anyone can.


PS I'm with Richard. We're both doing our bit. Learn more about Wise Leaders Community here and New Artisans here.

Monday 21 November 2022

3 key conversation focusing tools - one word, one sentence, on-a-page

One word

3 is a great rule.

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen”
“Blood, sweat and tears”
“The good, the bad and the ugly”

are just 3 of zillions of examples.

We know that we humans can last 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.

I know in my business I host human being centred conversation online for people in Wise Leaders Community. I provide mentoring with heart for leaders with heart for community members, and also have private roster clients. I also host The We Need To Talk Experience. I do other things. These 3 however are where my gifts (talents) best lie and where I provide the most value to my clients.

The power of one

Above all for me however one matters most.

In all work with my clients I am helping them to focus on one action at a time through embracing the true science of quantum leaps, I.e. one small yet significant shift at a time.

When I first started my professional practice over 30 years ago I believed simplicity without losing the profound was key to the success of my clients and to my own success and so I pioneered many ways to do this. I continue to evolve the following:

One quantum leap at a time momentum.
One sentence strategy.
One page role clarity.
One page performance development/strategy execution plans.
One focus conversations.
One purpose meetings.
One message story-sharing.
One module at a time learning.
One page agreements.
One shift at a time change initiatives.
One great idea at a time innovation.

I also work with one word as my theme for a year (sometimes less). 

My current one word is

Conversations (human being centred, sparkenation, 13 pillars).
One song (unearth, enhance and magnify essence; live out loud).
Moments (defining, every day, unexpected & surprises).
Meaningful (for me, highly valuable for you and/or you and your cohort)
Unity (shared-view).
Nuance (small yet significant shifts (quantum leaps) and then aggregation of marginal gains
Integrity and Impact (being true to myself regardless of circumstances or situations, ethical, keeping my promises/proof, making a contribution and positive and productive impact.
Trust (being trustworthy and trusting of others).
Yearning for human to human connection.

What numbers count for you?

What words have the most meaning for you?

If you could only choose one word, what would it be? 

Recommended Actions

1) Choose your one word and create an acronym like above to give it depth and meaning. Use this to maintain your focus.

2) Share this idea with colleagues and have a conversation around your one words.

Strategy in a sentence

Most organisations have a lot going on. What I observe in most is that there seems to be no guiding light or compass. This is strategy.

Of course many organisations have strategic plans. Mostly they make interesting reading and yet rarely get executed. You’ll find them on a shelf somewhere gathering dust.

I have had to read 100’s of strategic plans over my three decades as a business advisor and mentor, and for a few years I helped to create them.

In the past thirteen years I have partnered with my clients to separate determining strategy from the plans to execute it. I agree with Alan Weiss that strategic planning is an oxymoron!

The great writer Ernest Hemingway thought the following were six of his best words: For Sale: Baby shoes, Never worn. 

Inspired by Hemingway, my friend and colleague Kwai Yu, founder of Leaders Cafe, asked the following question on a LinkedIn discussion: Who are you? Could you tell the story of you in six words? 

Kwai received hundreds of extraordinary responses which inspired me to think about a way I could best teach people about strategy! Hence my change of modis operandi.

I now work with my clients to help them describe their strategy in 6 words, at the most in a sentence.

Could you describe your strategy in 6 words? 

Strategy is the reference point from which we make all decisions about our future direction. It is the guiding light. Tactics are about the what, who, and when. We confuse them at our peril, and to have tactics with no clear strategy means we are going somewhere, however most likely not to the place we really want to go.

My own strategy in a sentence is: "Giving full attention to relationships and allowing outcomes to be a natural consequence."

This guides everything I do. I consider strategy to be the compass that guides our decisions and execution the map.

Imagine if you asked your employees: What is the company’s strategy for moving forward?

And they could give an answer in a sentence that they believe in!

And imagine too if they had their piece of the execution map on one page.

Recommended Action

Take your team aside for 20 minutes and ask them to write your strategy in a sentence, compare their insights and then together create your one sentence.

If you’d like some help please give me a shout. My number is +61 418 807 898.

The folk at six word memoirs are doing some great stuff too.


Please listen to the three minutes and 23 seconds podcast here.

I'm one of the pioneers of Plan's-on-a-page. 

I swear by them as one of the most magnificent tools there are to help us to take action, sustain momentum, and achieve what's important to us. They are a key conversation focusing tool.

I first created a plan-on-a-page in my notebook with a trusted direct report in August 1989. I called it a Performance Possibility plan-on-a-page.

I had 24 direct reports at the time in multiple locations and 1000’s of mile apart! My deep desire was to find a way to keep everyone on the same page collectively and in individual locations.

People started calling them PPP’s and this label is still used by many of my clients today!

Plans-on-a-page or PPP’s are a remarkable way to

1) Keep focused personally, for a team, for an organisation.

2) Help you and others (particularly those people to whom you have promised to deliver value) to be accountable.

3) Sustain a shared-view with your performance possibility partners (colleagues, mentors) and possibility peers in areas you have agreed are significant. More on partners and peers in next weeks videos, podcasts and blog posts.

4) Own your piece of  the execution quilt or jigsaw.

5) Capture in one place the quantum leaps (small yet significant shifts) you’re taking to move from current reality to possibility (your next reality!).

One of my most prized possessions is a small quilt my Grandmother Ruby Sherriff made over 50 years ago. I have wonderful memories of her and husband Fred. They lived less than a mile from me when I was a boy and so I was a frequent visitor to their house. 

A vivid memory is Nana making quilts. There'd be a piece here and another over there etc and then one day it would magically come together as one and yet each individual piece stood out. 

Little did I know then that Nana's quilts would many years later inspire a remarkable idea. 

In business strategy is like a compass and execution a map. For your strategy to be executed every employee needs their unique piece of the map. I call it a quilt map. Performance Possibility Plans (PPPs) are an individuals piece of the quilt.

Recommended Action

Visual plans-on-a-page work best. My latest PPP is below. I hope it inspires you to create your own PPP.

If I can be of assistance please give me a shout.

Become the wise leader you want to be.


Friday 18 November 2022

Conversation About Conversations Part Fourteen With Allan Parker

In this sparkenation conversation Allan Parker and myself explore further how our hearts and minds are allies and how integral the heart/head interconnection is to human being centred, and wise conversations.

There's links to the previous thirteen videos underneath this one on YouTube.

Become the wise leader you want to be.


Wednesday 16 November 2022

Now is a great time for a strategic review and engaging in a farsight experience

There are lots of challenges in business and life in general today and more coming in 2023 right!?

I think the first step to overcoming the headwinds is to get your strategy for 2023 precise and all employees in alignment with it so that who they are and what they do every day counts for you and yet is also meaningful for them.

Could you describe your strategy for success in 2023 in a sentence? 

Most importantly could your employees say what it is?

I’m offering a small number of strategic reviews. You and I would meet on Zoom for 30 - 45 minutes, and then bring in your key people (up to 8) for another 30 - 45 minutes. 

The outcomes will be your strategy for 2023 in a sentence, with buy in from your key people, how to get the buy in of everyone else, and the key tactics for executing your strategy.

Part of what we will look at is the concept of antifragile - from the book by Nassim Nicolas Taleb. Antifragility basically means that instead of being resilient or adaptive you actually get stronger in the face of extreme stressors, chaos, and disorder, or disruption.

We will also tap into the gift of farsight. Learn more about this here via my video playbook.

There’s a small investment required for this service.

Next step

Please telephone me in Australian business hours (or 7.30 - 9.30 UK time) to schedule your strategic review. Only 10 available. First in, best dressed!

Become the wise leader you want to be.


Monday 14 November 2022

Behind the scenes of wise, new artisan conversations with Richard Merrick

I really valued and enjoyed this conversation with my friend and colleague Richard Merrick. It's a behind the scenes exploration of what wise, new artisan conversations look like.

Become the wise leader you want to be.


PS there's more conversations like this here.

Friday 11 November 2022

Keeping everything simple

I love simplicity.

 "The height of sophistication is simplicity." often attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci. More likely it's from a play by Clare Boothe Luce in 1931.

My favourite is this from Albert Einstein “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

I also love the use of one word, one sentence and one page. Learn more.

I equally find it valuable to put meaning to the one word as I have done at the top of the page and see the detail below.

What's would make the word simple meaningful for you?

Sensing what is and truely appreciating it

My quest is to see everything as it is and not over think things or complicate matters. Appreciating the remarkable, the great, the good, as well as the bad and ugly I find is a good way to live.

Insight and Farsight

We’re drowning in information. What we crave is insight.

Hindsight and foresight have their place. Farsight however is the gift we need most. 

Insight and Farsight are the dynamic duo of 21st century leadership.

Moment By Moment

There's only one moment that matters, this one. 

My personal tendency is to live in the future, i.e. I often catch myself imagining what can be, which has its place of course, however it's not where we should invest too much energy. 

Some people live in the past which has many drawbacks because we cannot change the past.

Now is the only time that really matters.

Possibility making itself known

According to quantum physics we live in a world of 'infinite possibility'. The more I accept this and the less I search for what's possible, the more I find that possibility reveals itself in every day situations and conversations.

Living in the service of others

There is evidence in plain sight of many so called world leaders living in the service of themselves. In stark contrast personally I'm inspired by people who live and lead in the service of others.

“Treat people, all of nature, all things, as you desire to be treated.” Confucius 551 - 479 BCE

Empathy, Energy and Enhancing my essence, 
and helping others to do the same

Unearthing, enhancing and magnifying our essence, and helping others to do the same, is one of the great pursuits of 21st century leadership. Learn more.

Become the wise leader you want to be.

Wednesday 9 November 2022

Conversation About Conversations Part Thirteen With Allan Parker

Thrilled once more to engage in conversation about conversations with Allan Parker.

In this episode we take a look at caring, calming and considered as integral to wise conversations.

We also begin exploration of heart/head as friends and allies which we will expand on in future conversations.

Become the wise leader you want to be.


Monday 7 November 2022

We need a comma between liberal and democracy suggests Henry Mintzberg

I love Henry Mintzberg and his unordinary posts. His latest "We need a comma between liberal and democracy'. Read Henry's article here.

I highly recommend Henry's book pictured. It provides a blueprint anyone can adopt in your own best way to be Leadership Citizenship and take righting the wrongs into our own hands.

Learn more about the book here.

Get the book here.

Become the wise leader you want to be.


Friday 4 November 2022

Leadership Citizenship - a new way to live the value of real leadership

Executive Summary

I love the idea of 'Citizen Leadership.' Google it yourself and see what you feel and think. I actually prefer Leadership Citizenship. When leaders are local, national and international citizens conscious of your impact on society and contributing to a positive, productive, human being centred way of being, peace and harmony as the natural state of things are restored for us and eventually our planet.

Most leadership it seems to me is the old disproven people management in disguise - power, command and control, authoritarian, dictatorial, patriarchal. It’s for the benefit of a few and not the many. 

This kind of leadership, it’s actually fake leadership, is driven by self interest, often self-righteousness, greed and profit for the sake of it.

This kind of leadership is both arrogant and ignorant. In my view it’s a major contributor to inflation, lack of climate action, inequality, poor adherence to and provision of basic human rights, domestic violence, you name a society ill!

We need real leadership more than ever. 

In 1990 I put forward the following definitions of leadership and management which I believe have stood the test of time:

"Leadership is the art of inspiring people to bring everything they are to everything they do.

Management is the process that means it’s simple for people to bring everything they are to everything they do."

Fake leadership has seen a shift from a society with an economy in it, to an economy with a society in it. This disastrous move has occurred over about 60 years, gradually initially, and rapidly in the past fifteen years or so, accelerating since the GFC of 2007/08.

The consequences are degeneration of our planet, and societies systems and structures, particularly financial, political, educational and religious, energy supply, and human well-being, to name just a few.

Real leadership on the other hand offers us the opportunity of regeneration, I.e “bring a new and more vigorous life to (an area, an industry, institution etc.”

A key for me is that real leadership demands we be responsible leadership citizens locally, nationally and internationally. This means that we must individually address the challenges facing us, and then collectively change/nuance/modify/regenerate our processes so that the current one’s become obsolete and the new ones fit for purpose.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

R. Buckminister Fuller

A key piece of the puzzle is that it's imperative to understand that processes includes policies, principles, practices, procedures, philosophies, systems, structures, ideologies and assumptions.

Become the wise leader you want to be


PS Being a process innovator is one of the 15 roles wise leaders play well. All of these roles are crucial to being a leadership citizen. Learn more about being a process innovator here. 

You can download the playbook for all 15 roles with my compliments here. 

PSS I highly recommend you read these two books. 

Get Citizens here.

Get Global Citizens here.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

'Sacred Nature' by Karen Armstrong makes my top 21 recommended reading list

This is a wonderful book full of ancient and modern wisdom.

It acknowledges Confucius as the originator of The Golden Rule and puts religions and philosophies into perspective.

"Treat people, all of nature, all things, as you desire to be treated."


This book is a treasure trove of wisdom.

You can get your copy here.

Download my top 21 list here.

Download my full recommended reading list here.

Become the wise leader you want to be.