What is the biggest LEADERSHIP challenge great leaders face head on?

It's time to think again.


A simple experiment uncovers this challenge every time.

Set an almost impossible problem scenario and then set your leaders up to fail. To do this, you have them answer the scenario alone. This builds the first barrier, ” I think my answers are right or almost right.” This psychological pneumonia studied and explained skillfully by Daniel Kahneman, in his work, highlights the struggle we all have separating intuition from logic.

Barrier one is created by the assumption that our intuitive answer is correct.

In my experiment, I then help leaders build barrier number two; confirmation. Working with one or two others I ask them to share their answers and agree on the new right answer. This kicks-off a process of trading, logical arguments, made up facts, and some coercion. This small group has now reinforced that they are “mostly right”.

Because the intuitive part of your mind is a lot more powerful than you may think, we quickly defend our assertions and develop “Logic” to support them – in the blink of an eye.

In his book How we know what isn’t so, Thomas Gilovich walks us through the process we use to reinforce our assumptions and biases and he shares strategies to overcome this natural way of thinking.

In my experiment, it only takes two steps and about 30 minutes to create factions. When the smaller groups are asked to work in a larger team to come up with the right solution they spend almost all of their energy trying to convince the other side that their answers are right and little energy exploring possibilities.

When one person within the group is the actual leader, i.e. the senior ranking officer, they often use positional power to force a conclusion, which, in many cases, resembles their first answer. They will then create the logic to support their actions and not waste time on reflecting on what just happened.

Most of us like to think we are not that kind of leader. That we are capable of making rational decisions, listening to other’s views and taking them onboard. The fact is we rely on our gut instinct and then create the logic to support this. Not always a bad thing.

However, left unchecked it can create an enormous blind spot that blocks out the intellect and innovations that only teams can generate. When we hold that our beliefs, judgements and opinions are based on solid reasoning we put ourselves and our organisations in peril.

It’s time to think again.

Subscribe to learn more on maintaining a leadership mindset.  My next pod cast is coming soon…..

Good reads are:

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow by [Kahneman, Daniel]

Prof Daniel Kahneman, from Princeton University, started a revolution in our understanding of the human mind. It’s a revolution that led to him winning a Nobel Prize.

How we know what isn’t so.

How We Know What Isn't So: Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by [Gilovich, Thomas]
Thomas Gilovich
His research focuses on everyday human judgment: How do people assess what they and others are like, what the future has in store, and what events in the past “really mean”?

What Makes you a Great Leader?

What is leadership? Do a search and you will find endless definitions, but we think it is simple. Being a great leader is the ability to motivate yourself and others.

However, you cannot be a great leader on your own.

Napoleon’s leadership crystalised into using the best talent available. Until the French Revolution the aristos were keeping all the jobs for themselves, but once the guillotining was done and dusted, the doors were open for anyone who had something to offer. The French legal, education and social systems were founded in his short reign as Emperor.

He had the ability to lead but also the confidence to listen.

Knowing why you want to be a leader is a good place for you to start. So ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do I want to lead?
  • How will my life improve if I am a better leader?
  • How will my work improve?
  • How will my home life get better?
  • What are my measurements for success?
  • Who will I be leading?
  • What barriers will I overcome?
  • What parts of my personality do I want to be strengthened?

Leadership involves the practical and the emotional. Being there first, to meetings, to ideas, to innovations. Having empathy and understanding that those that want leadership need to be encouraged rather than bossed in the old fashioned way.

Most of all Leadership comes from being open. The confidence to say “I don’t know – tell me!”, the ability to say “Let’s try that” and the humility to realise “They are better at this task than I am.”

Leading a company, division or team needs the same skills. Your success comes from their success, your confidence grows as theirs does too and your empathy makes them want to do more for you. Once you have got there, you can truly call yourself a Leader.

To take the path to be a Great Leader – why not find out more about the Breakthrough Development Programme in October in London here

Breakthrough with Making Great Leaders.

Ok – so you’ve been working for ten years. Your education is finished, you’re getting along fine, but inside there is a frustration. How to get to the next level? Play corporate politics? Push your boundaries internally and externally?

Breaking through to the next level of your career can be difficult, especially if you are not sure about the best way to develop yourself.

  • You want personal success, but also to deliver for the business.
  • You have had ideas that you are sure will work, but getting them accepted can be daunting.
  • You want to develop your personal life, to be healthier, but haven’t worked out how to make professional and personal ambitions compatible.

With Breakthrough from Making Great Leaders, you will be in a position where you can make all those decisions successfully. The coaching is personal. You are not sitting in a lecture theatre, you are engaging with a maximum of 9 others. Tim Taylor knows you are not the same as everyone else. There is not a one size fits all solution, there is individual attention to what you need from the coaching.  

And when you walk out of the formal coaching sessions, you are not walking away from Making Great Leaders. Tim Taylor will be arranging to meet you for follow up sessions, and you will have each other’s numbers on your phones. Tim regularly supports his clients with help and advice, and sometimes just an independent ear to talk things over.

To find out about the Breakthrough Development Programme in October Click Here.

Which company would you like to lead – Apple or Samsung?

Two great companies - two very different leadership styles...

Tim Cook is the leader at Apple. He is up there alongside Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos as a famous tech leader. He had the unenviable task of replacing perhaps the most admired and loved innovator of the past 50 years, Steve Jobs.

This week he has had the enjoyable task of telling the stock market that Apple has delivered above expectations, always a welcome message for investors. They are seeing double-digit growth in almost every market, and their latest iPhone X has not sold quite as many, but they are getting a better price. The elasticity of demand in action.

Meanwhile, Samsung has seen a decline in their sales of the direct competitor for the iPhone, the Galaxy S9. Who announced it? Samsung. Not a person, but the company, Not one person but “executives” are quoted.

I Googled the same question about each brand. Who Leads Apple/Samsung. Look at the results.


The Apple results show the people, the Samsung results show leads.

What we are seeing is a difference in leadership, culture and branding. The leadership in Apple is visible. They are easy to find. They are also prepared to carry the can. If Apple makes a bad move, the shareholders will be gunning for people they can see. But they are also cheering and clapping those people when they make the right decisions, and Apple make more right than wrong moves.

You can find out who is the leader of Samsung if you dig about a bit, and in South Korea, they are public figures (particularly as one, Lee Jae-yong is in the slammer for corruption).

There are two types of leadership going on here. The visible, responsible, engaged, public leader that is Tim Cook, and the invisible and corporate leadership of Samsung.

If you were given a choice of leading either company, which would you select? There is no right or wrong, it might be that your personality suits one more than the other. You might be thrilled by the opportunity to stand on stage and get wowed to the rafters, or that might be the last thing you ever want to do.

Leaders do not have to fit one category of person, but they do need to decide what type of leader they will be. Breakthrough Leadership Coaching helps you uncover your strengths and how to maximise them to be the best leader you can be. Working with Tim Taylor and a small cohort of fellow leaders, you will be given the tools to lead effectively.

The next Breakthrough Leadership Programme is in London in October, three days leading to three months of engagement and learning how you can use your skills and experience to become a leader.

Find out how to Breakthrough to the next Leadership level here.