Inspiring Leaders – World Business Forum

Inspiring Leaders – World Business Forum in New York City 5th-6th October 2011

A Synopsis by Adrienne Davitt_______________________

Adrienne has just returned from an excellent, intensive (but very inspiring) two days in New York, where she was one of 5000 business leaders at the World Business Forum.

The themes covered this year were:

  • Global Leadership Challenges
  • Managing Top Teams & Talent
  • Megatrends
  • The New Economic Order
  • True Leadership & Purpose
  • Management Innovation
  • Creativity

Absolutely world-class presentations by the following have added to our drive to be leading edge in both our thinking and what we can offer our clients. Speakers included:

Bill George – Professor of Management at Harvard Business School on Rediscovering Authentic Leadership

Bill George is one of America’s most respected contemporary corporate leaders, best known for his time at Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company. Bill’s leadership philosophy stems from the belief that the world’s best leaders are the ones that have an authentic grasp of who they are and how they want to impact the world. He proposes a new kind of leadership for the 21st century, one that empowers at all levels of organisations (this fits very nicely with our current recommended reading – The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma).

Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers: Why Success Can Be So Personal

What are outliers? An outlier is someone whose success is so extraordinary that it inhabits a space outside the boundaries of everyday existence. Malcolm contends that our understanding of success is crude and he digs down to come up with a better set of explanations.  He has developed into one of the most culturally stimulating and thought-provoking modern writers. Instead of looking at tall trees, he thinks we should have been looking at the forest i.e. an Outlier’s culture, community, family and generation.

Tal Ben-Sahar – Positive Leadership: Why Happiness is Good for Business

What is positive psychology? For much of its history, psychology has seemed obsessed with human failings and pathology. Positive psychology, however, looks at how to improve human functioning and make normal like more fulfilling. Positive psychology aims to make rigorous academic ideas accessible to all. Tal taught the largest course at Harvard on “Positive Psychology” and the third largest on “The Psychology of Leadership”. He believes that by asking more positive questions, we can help people and organisations to thrive by focusing on what works rather than what doesn’t. He firmly believes that happiness is good for business.

Howard Schultz – Managing Vision and Culture; The Makings of a Global Brand

Howard Schultz is Chairman, President and CEO of the Starbucks Coffee Company. He has been recognised extensively for his passion, leadership and efforts to strengthen communities. Not the usual CEO, he describes himself as a hands-on leader and a coffee culture connoisseur. He spoke about the journey of inspiration from concept to execution and how to make the customer experience innovation in a cup of coffee. Connection, Conversation and Community are the critical factors to enduring success, he believes and quotes “risk more than others think safe, dream more than others think practical”. He emphasised the need for effective succession planning and a Top Team made up of people with skills you don’t have. He also believes that the rules of engagement are changing in business globally and that value for your people and community = shareholder value. “Humanity needs to be our guiding principle, not just our shareholder value.

Gary Burnison – CEO of Korn/Ferry International – Executive Recruitment and Talent Management solutions provider

The key questions asked in a recent survey on Executive Talent & Leadership are:

  • What role does talent and leadership play in a challenging economic environment?
  • What are the most important competencies/characteristics for today’s leaders?
  • How has leadership changed?
  • What are the pressing talent concerns impacting the global labour market in this new world?

Angela Ahrendts – Leading Creativity-Driven Businesses: A Case Study

In 2006, Angela became CEO of Burberry and has since been responsible for a strategy that has seen Burberry’s annual revenues increase by over 60% and ensured that Burberry is now regarded as one of the leading British brands in the world. Angela “lives” the brand and Burberry was recently voted the 13th most innovative company in the world. She has achieved this by focusing on the following:

  • Developing a balanced, connected team. The Creative Director and the Chief Technology Officer are aligned and equal
  • By putting the brand first and emphasising the importance of the cultural context to Burberry’s creativity, the brand is elevated over individual egos
  • Recognised early on the implications of the digital imperative and relaunched the company digitally worldwide within 9 months
  • Continuous balancing of art and commerce means that everyone is energised, intuition and innovation are key components to success as its a young business with an average executive age of 30
  • A very clear vision is required, aligned with an equally clear strategy

More to follow…

Institute of Directors Autumn Lunch

IoD photo

Andrew Harley, Adrienne Davitt, Amber Hanna and David Keane from DCP

DavittCorporatePartners were delighted to host a table at the Institute of Directors Autumn lunch in the Four Seasons Hotel where An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD was the Guest Speaker.

Igniting Innovation & Ideas Conference

Below is the report from the “Igniting Innovation & Ideas” Conference in Manchester on September 14th 2011 courtesy of Benchmark for Business.

Innovation Conference Report – Kjell Nordstrom & Chris Barez-Brown

Approaches – How we deal with challenges defines who we are


By James Houlihan, September 2011

With the recent 10th anniversary of 9/11, I recalled a conversation from a journey on the railroad to Farmingdale last year with a couple of fellow passengers and how they mentioned that “they must book their flights with Ryanair for their forthcoming vacation in Europe”. This is not a particularly remarkable or memorable statement but allow me to explain why it struck me as particularly interesting.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the airline industry was facing its most significant challenge up to that point in time. One company took an alternate approach to the crisis and used the events as part of their growth strategy – all this despite the slump in passenger numbers.  In late 2001, Ryanair (the “Southwest” of Europe) signed a deal with Boeing for the delivery of approx 150 aircraft (at a significantly reduced cost) commencing in 2002. Given the events of previous few months you would be forgiven for thinking this was madness (but not if you know Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair). The strategy has been a massive success with passenger numbers climbing from 9m in 2001 to 74m in 2010 and Ryanair had the aircraft to accommodate those passengers at nearly half the price they would otherwise have paid.

We are all faced with various challenges in our professions. One of the important factors is how we navigate towards and implement a solution. The perspective we adopt is always within our reach and ultimately influences the outcome (albeit there are some uncontrollable factors). Had Ryanair accepted the slump and narrowed its focus, one could be
fairly certain it would not be the success it is today – one of the few profitable airlines in the world with over $5 billion cash on its books.

Even the challenges we are faced with in our professional lives can be very much overshadowed by events in our private lives.  When facing challenges, it is our perspective and our approach to the situation that defines who we are.

Autumn Breakfast Briefing

On the 28th October 2011, we will be hosting a breakfast briefing for our key clients and colleagues. We are very fortunate to be able to offer this unique opportunity to hear Dr. Newman speak about his latest research in the area of inspirational leadership.

Martyn L. Newman Ph.D., D.Psych., is a consulting psychologist with an international reputation as an expert in emotional intelligence and leadership. As well as holding senior positions at leading universities in Europe and Australia, he has had many years of experience working in leadership development and management consulting across Europe and Asia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Sydney and holds an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, a Masters of Psychology, and a Doctor of Psychology from La Trobe University, Melbourne. Martyn is a captivating keynote speaker on the power of building emotional intelligence in the workplace.

This event will be held in the Hampton Hotel on 28th October 2011, if you would like to register your interest please contact Amber Hanna. ( or +35316688891

Attendance is available for €50 and includes reading materials and a continental breakfast.

7.30am for 8am start

Effectively Leading with Emotions

Effectively Leading With Emotions

Amber Hanna

It is becoming increasingly crucial for leaders to know how to use emotions to influence, at an individual and an organisational level. Aside from regulating their own emotions, managers often have to deal with and manage the emotional behaviour of others.

One way managers and leaders can use emotions is by becoming aware of ‘Emotional Labour’

The term emotional labour (EL) refers to the effort expended to display socially acceptable emotions as part of a job role. First introduced by Hothschild (1983) emotional labour was developed from research investigating service employees and their requirement to present socially desirable emotions when dealing with customers.

Organisational rules on what emotions should be expressed in given situations gives rise to the need for employees to regulate their emotions to be in line with these rules.
The crucial aspect of managing emotions for leaders is using their judgement wisely to display the appropriate emotion

Humphrey et al (2008) argues that EL is an important and often overlooked function of effective leadership. The term ‘leading with emotional labour’ has been put forward by Humphrey (2005, 2006) to describe managers who use emotional labour in order to influence the ‘moods, emotions, motivations and performance’ of their subordinates.

It is possible for managers to use EL as a tool for leadership. Studies have indicated that leaders have a strong influence over the moods and emotional states of their group members, thus this influence can be used to in a positive or negative way. McColl-Kennedy and Anderson (2002) found that leaders could influence employees’ feelings of frustration or optimism. By using a transformational leadership technique leaders were able to influence employees’ feelings of optimism in a positive way, these feelings of optimism were also linked to stronger performance, indicating leaders can use emotions to improve performance among team members. Pirola-Merlo et al (2002) argued that an important emotional function of leaders is to help their subordinates to cope with negative events and workplace obstacles. They found that leaders with a facilitative or transformational approach were able to help employees overcome the mood damaging effects of negative events, this reduction in mood damaging effects also contributed to improved performance. By performing the correct display of emotions in a situation, leaders can influence their followers and coworkers for the better.

By offering leadership training in how to express emotions effectively companies can encourage their management teams to experience more genuine emotional expressions. It is possible for leaders to master the skills involved in genuine emotion expression, by encouraging this an organisation can make the workplace more productive and enjoyable for leaders and their followers.

By crafting charisma through the use of positive emotional displays to portray a message with passion and sincerity a leader can foster an emotional connection with his/her followers. This raises awareness of the fact that leaders and followers are emotionally connected. Research has revealed that emotional contagion occurs between leaders and through this process leaders can influence the emotions of their followers. Positive emotional expressions have been linked with organisational outcomes such as increased performance, extra-role compliance and perceptions of leader effectiveness, indicating that emotions are a powerful tool available to leaders to increase organisational effectiveness. By being aware that emotional labour is a valid construct not only for those in the service industry but also for leaders some of the negative aspects can be reduced.

The Challenge of Change – Part 2

The Challenge of Change – Part 2

By Tom Moore July 2011

Every organisation plans and feeds back to a greater or lesser degree but there is a tipping point that only a relatively small number reach. When applied to the proper extent, planning and feedback become game changers; they allow managers and management click together like Lego. They provide the mechanism and the anchor through which the individual and collective change can be achieved. The big advantage is that the change agents are part of the day-to-day fabric of the business so that achieving the difference can be a gradual, but quick transition. It allows the change be rippled down from the top in in a logical, progressive way.

  • The availability of facts changes the nature of meetings and it speeds up and improves decision making. Managers increasingly think in terms of impact.
  • When problems are pushed to the surface at the earliest possible point, and their true nature is clearly identified, the focus shifts from discovery to resolution. Failure to address issues becomes clearly evident.
  • The combination of task defined roles, and relevant operational facts, fosters accountability and responsibility. It supports a safer, higher level of autonomy so that the management structure moves closer to an almost federal model. This is an important component of the collective agility.
  • The need for individual support shows up in a clear and unambiguous fashion. When the requirement for training, coaching or other such interventions is clear to all involved, the benefit of the intervention will be faster, greater, and more directly related to the underlying problem,
  • When a manager becomes confident that they can always have access to the facts they need, that they, and all those around them, understand what they need to do, their approach changes. When they have the confidence that the feedback structure will prompt them when they miss the need for action or intervention, the change is accelerated. They don’t need to fire fight to the same extent; they can directly address and resolve the underlying problems rather than just manage their impact.

Things like this are formative; they change the individual manager and also change the management as an entity in its own right. It becomes real “on the job” learning. The approach is top down and the focus for any individual manager is on their tasks or objectives. At the same time, the process is building and reinforcing generic management skills. These include an evidence based approach, problem solving, objectivity, autonomy, accountability and responsibility, real delegation and so on.

The process follows a number of simple rules that makes change quicker and more likely to stick.

  • At all times it works out from the current reality, there is no quantum leap involved. The difference isn’t what you do, it’s the extent to which you do it.
  • The process is part of the daily habit at all stages.
  • Change can be quick, shallow, and incremental with continuous gain targets.
  • Both recognition and consequence, essential components of autonomy, become a logical and natural part of the equation.

Wiktionary has one definition of osmosis as “picking up knowledge accidently without actually seeking that particular knowledge”.  That’s a good way to learn. If the mechanics of management are appropriately structured, managers can learn and develop by doing their job. Change becomes much less of a challenge.

The Challenge of Change

The Challenge of Change

By Tom Moore July 2011

Behavioural scientist, Robin Stuart-Kotze wrote “Companies change the way they operate when the people in them change the way they behave”.  On the surface that might make the task of corporate change seem an awful lot harder; instead of changing this single, impersonal entity, we have to change people with all the potential difference and resistance that implies. However, by and large you can’t change people, you can only change the environment around them and then people change themselves. Fortunately, altering the environment to make this happen can be quick and relatively mechanical.

As Stuart-Kotze’s comment implies, change in this context is not specific to any one organisation; it has a universality about it that is above sector or process. As such it cannot be about changing things. It is about the ability to change rather than any physical act of change. In that context, it has two dimensions which everything else flows from

  1. The ability of the individual to always respond to any issue in an immediate and appropriate way.
  2. The collective ability to move quickly and in unison whenever necessary.

Getting the business to the point where it can be steered as if every element of it was connected to a joystick is the challenge. It has to be tackled in layers and the process has to start with the managers.  They are the mechanism that connects the strategy and its achievement. When they change, it makes change in the rest of the company simpler, quicker and more certain.

For many organisations, the immediacy of that joystick response might seem a long way off; decisions can be slow and uncertain, implementing any strategic shift can take a lot of time and effort, and every manager can be heavily and continuously involved in fire fighting. There is not enough time to be different. However, in most cases, the fundamental mechanics of management are sound, the problem is the extent to which they are implemented. This manifests itself in a number of ways

  • Operational objectives at the front line of management are not always clear or properly synchronised with the overall corporate objectives.
  • The evidence based approach is limited. This in turn limits the operational awareness and causes an over reliance on anecdotal evidence
  • Internal, operational communication is flawed and there is an exposure to bias or personal agendas.
  • The management structure becomes somewhat compromised with a subsequent dilution of accountability and responsibility.

This is not necessarily fatal but it is clutter and fog that obscures reality and undermines the ability to respond. It also encourages the fire fighting habit and fosters “dropdown” management where managers continuously manage at a level below their role and below their capability.

The two key mechanical improvements that can address these issues are operational planning and operational information.

  • Fully deployed operational planning means going far enough to ensure that every manager understands what they need to do and has a viable strategy in place. This need not be complicated. It means that, as the core objectives ripple down through the management structure, each manager proposes how they will achieve their objectives before they accept their targets and pass them on down. This does a number of things; it clarifies whether or not they understand what they are being asked to do, it gives Manager A an opportunity to assess Manager B’s approach at the outset, and it bench tests the overall objectives. It also defines the roles and responsibilities more clearly in terms of tasks and determines the information and measurement required in a much more precise way.

  • Fact based feedback should provide all the information each manager needs to achieve their objectives. This should not only provide a continuous and independent stream of operational facts, it should also be structured to provide a radar for problems and issues and should be used to prompt where action or intervention are required.

In Good Hands – InGovernment Magazine interview with Adrienne Davitt

Read an interview with Adrienne Davitt on how the ongoing support and development for Business Leaders is crucial to all companies today. This interview appears in the current edition of InGovernment Magazine.

In Good Hands – InGovernment Magazine interview with Adrienne Davitt


To learn more about how you can develop and support the leaders in your oganisation, please contact the office: +353-1-6688891 or

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There is no safety in doing nothing

There is no safety in doing nothing

Andrew Harley

In 2008 the business landscape changed.  Banks faltered and failed, currencies became volatile, commodity prices soared and credit and capital became scarce or even non-existent.

Most business leaders responded by “battening down the hatches to ride out the storm”.  In reality this translated into programs of aggressive cost management, consolidation, rightsizing and being defensive.

The landscape has changed to one that is filled with organizations that are frozen – waiting, waiting for the warmth of economic recovery to breathe life back into them.  There is an expectation of a return to normality.

Three years ago the world changed.  Time does not go backwards nor  does it stand still.  The organizations that aspire to grow and prosper must make strategic plans based on the current reality, waiting for better times is not an option – the luxury of time was ripped away three years ago.

The leadership challenge just got tougher.  A key ingredient of success will be courage, the courage to make decisions and create plans, to wrest control from circumstances and drive forward for the good of the organization.  To continue to do nothing is to wait for someone else to turn off the lights.