Welcome back to the Martini Diaries – as we enter the 12th week of lock-down in the UK I am beginning my plans to return to my office in London later this month. I felt it was time for a short period of reflection before we begin to share together the continuation of my life and travels as a CEO of a global non-profit organisation.
What have I learnt about leadership over these 11 weeks of being confined to barracks away from my team?
In which I ponder my fluctuating weight, the dangers of throw away fashion, my first visit to Metro Bank, and finding out I am a micro style influencer.
Sunday 19 May 2019
I foolishly began today by studying my Fitbit app and looking at my bodyweight. I started monitoring it on 26 November 2018 when I calculated that for a man of my age (57) and height/build (5ft 10”) I was 16 lbs overweight. The good news is that since that time, based on my weight this morning, I have lost 4 pounds. Continue reading “The Martini Diaries – Episode 1.”
This week I attended a champagne reception for the International Churchill Society (of which I am member) at the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill. The event launched the new Churchill book ‘How Churchill Waged War’ by ‘Allen Packwood’. The evening was opened by Randolph Churchill, and then Mr Packwood provided an overview of his book and the research he had undertaken into the subject (he is the senior archivist at Churchill College).
On 8 March 2019 I was honoured to deliver a talk at the University of Leeds on the subject of women and leadership. The event was part of a day of celebrations for International Women’s Day. I have set out below a precis of my speech.
There has been much talk recently, particularly in relation to the modern day Parliamentarian, about courage in relation to leadership. Comparisons, fair or otherwise, are often drawn between now and other moments in history of great challenges and the lack of courage now being displayed.
I recently spoke at a conference in Ethiopia on the subject of ‘Ethical Leadership’.
I concluded with these thoughts on moral courage, which I thought, with current events in mind, I would share:
You might be uncomfortable at times as an ethical leader – but no one has ever said leadership is easy. However, situations demanding strong ethical behaviour can teach us to trust ourselves and our instincts. If you calm your anxiety and look logically at the situation facing you, your instincts will often guide you in the right direction – what I prefer to call that most elusive of leadership qualities – ‘grace under pressure’ (Ernest Hemingway)
I have been recently extensively reading on the subject of time management and have come across two quotations, both in excess of 150 years old, which seem as timeless and relevant today as when they were first produced. I believe it was Winston Churchill who once said “to be able to look forward we must first look back”.
The first quote is from Robert E. Lee, a famous general in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. He was quoted as saying “I cannot trust a man to control others, who cannot control himself.”
I have been reading William Manchester and Paul Reid’s book ‘Defender of the Realm’ – the final book in the ‘Last Lion’ trilogy biography of Winston Churchill. It is an exhaustively researched and detailed account of Churchill’s life in World War Two. When Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940 he was 65 years old and during the next 5 years of leading the country in war suffered at least 3 heart attacks or minor strokes. He also developed pneumonia twice. Yet he emerged from his exertions in 1945 70 years old, victorious, lived another 20 years and became known as arguably the greatest ever Englishman!
With the increase in popularity, and effectiveness, of ‘working from home’ as a standard operating procedure in many not-for-profit organisations clear instructions from you as the leader are always needed to establish a creative environment. Moreover, my organisation, which has members/impact in 87 countries across the world, often sees my staff travelling and operating in different time zones and often the other side of the world where they need to have the flexibility to make decisions and not waste time.
I can still remember with some vividety the Falklands War of 1982. I was in my very early twenties when it happened. I recall the shock, the chaos, the emerging pride in the armed forces as a task force was assembled with incredible speed, and then the tension of the next few months until the war was over and then a feeling that the United Kingdom had become great again. What I also remember very clearly is the resignation of the Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, which happened within days of the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina. I have been reflecting on this swift, very high profile, resignation over the past few days, particularly in light of the Grenfell Tower block fire and tragedy.Continue reading “At what point in a crisis does a leader have to make the decision to resign?”