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. (amber@davittcorporatepartners.com) 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 info@davittcorporatepartners.com

Discover how DavittCorporatePartners can help you to understand emotion and leadership

Develop Leadership in Your Organisation

Win the War for Talent

Realise Individual Potential

Align Behaviour with Corporate Values


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.

Can you handle failure?

Managing Yourself – Can you handle failure?

Handling failure and blame is a key to managerial success. But, according to Datter and Hogan 2011, roughly 70 % of Americans have a personality type that tends to react inappropriately when things go wrong.

Fortunately there are ways to fix such flawed responses. The first step is to cultivate self awareness. Several personality questionnaires can help you assess your preferred type.

The next step is to deepen your personal impact awareness (or political awareness) in order to better understand what messages others are receiving.

Once you have identified your bad habits, you can move toward more adaptive responses such as:

  • Listening better
  • Communicating more effectively
  • Reflecting on the situation and people involved
  • Thinking before acting
  • Looking for the lessons learned when mistakes do happen

How Executives Can Learn from High Performing Athletes

How Executives Can Learn from High Performing Athletes

Aoife Harrington, May 2011

The performance of elite athletes and those who excel in business is alike in many ways and both of these high performing groups can learn much from one another and how they excel in their relative fields.  Countless research endeavours have found that how top sports people approach their respective games – and often their professions – is akin to how business leaders drive change and growth in organisations. Therefore, by looking at some of the key techniques and approaches used by high performing athletes, we can isolate new ways in which business leaders can continue their professional development and, importantly, continue to exact successful outcomes.

6 Lessons that Business Leaders Can Learn from the World of the Sporting Elite:

  1. 1. Learn the Fundamental Skills

Mastery of basic skills and competencies of a game is the most basic ingredient of success for any athlete. Where many athletes have been found to fall down, is spending too much time on learning the tricks of the trade to the neglect of learning and embedding the trade itself. For both athletes and executives, therefore, the basic skills or competencies need to be learned and relearned until they become second nature.

  1. 2. Develop Drive and Focus

One quality that all successful athletes have in common is their drive for success. High performing athletes tend to be very focused in one particular area – often referred to as single-mindedness – and they tend to go the extra mile to be excellent at what they do. Drive has been found to be closely related to having a clear vision for success. This illustrates the importance of spending time deciphering your vision – what you really want to achieve and where your passion lies. Your vision can be made all the more real by writing it down, in a sentence of two, and reefing to it regularly – thinking of it as your personal mission statement.

  1. 3. Practice Visualisation

Many sporting greats over the decades have acknowledged that one of the most important steps in their preparation for a game was visualisation of that game in advance. They reported that this gave them the feeling of ‘having done it before’ and that when they got out onto the field of play it felt almost second nature. Visualisation typically involves going through a performance step by step ahead of time. The good news is that virtually anything can be rehearsed ahead of time – like giving a good presentation at work or delivering tough feedback to a colleague. By mentally taking yourself through the steps that will be involved – from entering the room, to greeting the audience to the effective delivery of the task – actual performance can be enhanced and you are likely to feel more relaxed and at ease in your delivery.

  1. 4. Be You’re No 1 Competitor

Striving to better your personal best is what sets elite performers apart from the average sports person – ability aside of course. Top athletes have reported that setting personal goals that are relevant to their own performance is much more potent that setting themselves goals against a competitors standards. Top sports people rise to the challenge not to just win but to do their very best. Setting your own personal learning or competence goals rather than just following goals that are set by others (in a performance review for example) will return control to you – the executive – control over your expectations, your goals and the resultant effort you invest in order to achieve these.

  1. 5. Elicit Feedback and Take it on Board

Getting feedback from a trusted source and listening to that feedback is integral to sporting – and indeed business – success, as it can help a person to understand what they are doing well but also what they are not doing so well and thus what they can improve upon. It is very important, however, that you elicit feedback from someone whose opinions you trust and respect and that you are willing to take action to rectify the skills or performance deficit identified. A mentor at work, a trusted colleague or even your own personal coach can be very useful in this regard.

  1. 6. Learn from Defeat

Adversity, and your personal response to it, is central to continued high performance in both sporting and business arenas. Athletes lose games all the time – just as business leaders fail to win clients or that much sought after promotion – but it is their personal response to this and what they do after the loss that will differentiate the average from the great.  Great athletes and business people, although they will feel a sense of loss – their focus is likely to be on what they can learn from the situation, what weakness or deficit it may have exposed and what changes they need to make to ensure future success. Setbacks are both normal and inevitable in life. It is your response to them, however, and your impetus to change following them that will determine the likelihood of your future success.

The 6 key approaches outlined above which are frequently utilised by those who excel in sporting arenas, can easily be transferred to the organisational context to drive performance of executives at work. Basically it’s about mastering the fundamentals, visualising success, refining vision and drive, learning from mistakes, taking feedback on board and striving to go one better every time. Just like in sport, a business or executive coach can help you to gain focus, clarify vision and revitalise drive – they can hold you accountable to your goals and they will challenge you to think differently, do better and aim higher thus making the most of your skills, abilities and attributes.

For more information on how the highly experienced executive coaches at DavittCorporatePartners can help you to achieve this and more, call us on +353 16688891 or consult our website www.davittcorporatepartners.com for more information on our executive coaching, leadership development and other services.