Effective leadership is critical to the success of every endeavour. Yet leaders often do not
find the head space to develop their own leadership knowledge, skills and experience to
give them the confidence to fully lead. A study by Forbes found that a staggering 98% of
Managers felt that Managers need more training and they felt unprepared for
management roles. The same could be said for when we find ourselves in leadership roles.
This is one of the reasons why together with fellow Institute of Director’s ambassador,
Judeline Nicholas, we set up the IoD 90 Minute Leadership Series. We wanted to give our
fellow Directors and business leaders an opportunity to spend 90 minutes a month
refreshing, re-evaluating and discussing leadership topics with their peers. We set out a 6-
month plan and covered some varied topics to make them think and we have just finished
the last session on planning and I wanted to share some of the insights from the last few
1. Leading in Troubling Times
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of loved ones, the impact of
BREXIT, civil unrest and political extremism, it’s not surprising that our teams are feeling
unsettled and anxious. Businesses have been severely impacted and individuals have
struggled either on furlough or working twice as hard. It’s been tough for over a year for us
all. As a leader, you need to set the tone, as your team will look to you, how will you react
and its vital to stay positive and turn challenges into opportunities. Equally we should
acknowledge that it’s been a difficult time and empathise with our team. Listen to them
and work together to find solutions. Communication is key and has been the biggest
frustration during lockdown, so communicate more than usual and be aware that many of
your team may be feeling isolated and also anxious about returning to the office. Encourage
flexibility and actively support the transition to the new normal. Demonstrate gratitude and
don’t forget to say THANK YOU.
2. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own
emotions, as well as recognise and influence the emotions of those around you. The term
was first coined in 1990 by researchers John Mayer and Peter Salovey but was later
popularised by psychologist Daniel Goleman. It is no surprise that 90% of top performers
have a high Emotional Quotient (EQ). The five key elements of EI are:
- Social skills
When Leaders have a high Emotional Intelligence they show increased leadership ability,
and develop increased team performance, improved and more confident decision making,
decreased occupational stress, reduced staff turnover and increased personal well-being.
The great thing about EQ is unlike IQ, it can be developed and you can build on your natural
We have certainly all had our mental resilience tested over the last 12 months. In the
British Army we believe that Mental Resilience can be built through learned skills, previous
experience, combined with personality. It is therefore closely linked to Emotional
Intelligence and you can build your resilience through mental control and emotional
regulation, which will come with developing your Emotional Intelligence. Here are the 7
pillars of Mental Resilience that the British Army teaches:
- Positive Affect
- Emotional Control
- Mental Control
- Sense of Purpose
- Social Support
4. Inclusive Leadership
Inclusive Leadership allows you to tap into your authentic self and to be a role model and
mentor. Encourage your staff to speak up and give them all a voice by creating a safe
environment for open and respectful communications. Openly discuss the value of diversity
and diversity of thought in achieving team goals and stay conscious of your own bias.
Inclusive leadership has shown to have a positive impact on the operational effectiveness,
innovation and creativity of an organisation. You will be able to attract and retain the best
talent and mirror a diverse market share and consumer base.
As leaders, we all know we should have a business plan, budget and marketing plan, but
many businesses don’t. So, if you haven’t already, I would recommend you develop these
with your team. The key however for a leader is to concentrate on finding the space to do
the stargazing and blue sky thinking that sets our vision and our mission should fall out of
this and sets out how we will achieve that vision. The key elements of your vision are your
core values, your purpose and your key goals. Identifying your values and your why to
become purpose-led is critical to setting the direction of your business and then you can
turn your goals into SMART Objectives to help drive you forward to achieve more.
If you are interested in learning more about leadership and the topics we have discussed
here, we cover many of them during our workshops and masterclasses or please get in
touch for a chat, I would be happy to help.
A successful business owner by age twenty, and with a varied 21-year military career including five years at the MoD on Whitehall, Leona has developed first class leadership and management skills. She has managed the successful implementation of major change programmes both in the UK and worldwide, including on behalf of Transport for London in collaboration with the 2012 Olympics. Leona is also IoD Director of the Year and a Fellow of IoD, CMI, InstLM.