Let’s Talk Leadership for the Digital Age

Podcast Show with Des Walsh

Let's Talk Leadership
Diversity & Inclusivity Keys to New Leadership: Sunny Stout-Rostron [Podcast]

Diversity & Inclusivity Keys to New Leadership: Sunny Stout-Rostron [Podcast]

Sunny Stout-RostronFrom sunny California, via London and Paris, and with a formidable array of degrees ranging from Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, through the Universities of Portsmouth, Sussex and Middelsex (DProf, Executive Coaching from the last-mentioned), to South Africa, Dr Sunny Stout-Rostron has a deep and wide understanding of leadership and the profession of coaching executive leaders. She is based in Cape Town and has an office in Johannesburg.

Sunny coaches at senior executive and board level, with a wide range of experience in leadership development and business strategy. With 25 years’ international experience as an executive coach, working with executive leaders and their teams, Sunny believes there’s a strong link between emotional intelligence and business results.

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Is a New Style of Leadership Needed for the Digital Age?

Leaders today need adaptability:

  • to understand the tech world
  • to understand the cultures of difference age groups

Between Millennials and Baby Boomers, basic assumptions are completely different, requiring a different type of leadership.

On South Africa, Leadership and Coaching

An experiment in democracy, “coming out of a very violent history, which had a soft landing…Mandela.”

What’s happened in the workplace is that the diversity is extraordinary. 11 official languages, 12-13 spoken.

And cultural differences.

“You have tribal culture, you have mixed race culture, you have Afrikaans culture, you have South African English culture.”

Then there is the difference between the metropolitan areas and the country areas.

Another key difference: individualistic culture (Western) and collective culture (African).

Religious tolerance: South Africa is a faith-based country and that comes into the workplace.

Very patriarchal society: gender diversity a particular challenge.

Individualism vs Team Culture

In the corporate world, there is a lot of team-based work and individuals, including quite talented ones and potential leaders, can get “lost”.

In smaller, entrepreneurial companies, there is more opportunity to provide scope for individual talent.

Coaching in South Africa

Mentoring is part of how things are done in the broader society, especially for males. The case still has to be made for coaching.

Sunny’s experience is that where there is no buy-in for coaching, that is where the top level is not being coached.

“It’s almost like you have to have success in order to prove it (the value of coaching), but you can’t get success if your senior leaders aren’t behind you. So it’s a bit of a Catch 22.”

Coaching Millennials

Boomers, because of their own life/cultural experiences, are “beautifully place to work with Millennials”, wanting to do it their way (just as the Boomers wanted to do it their way).

Be open minded to who the people are.

  • They want to be understood
  • They do see things differently
  • They’re very individualistic
  • They have a different way of operating and being

The Recurring Question

I asked Sunny the “What keeps business leaders awake at night” question I regularly ask in these conversations.

There are some great observations and advice for leaders in her response. Especially about understanding and acting upon the fact that, to deal with conflict in the workplace, leaders need to be aware of and address the problem of lack of inclusivity.

“Diversity is all about inclusivity and exclusivity.”

Contact Details

You can contact Sunny via the website – http://www.ssra.biz

Or via her email – sunny@ssra.biz

No Ceiling, Just Sky™ Institute Founder, Donna Karlin [Podcast]

No Ceiling, Just Sky™ Institute Founder, Donna Karlin [Podcast]

Donna Karlin, Shadow Coach

Donna Karlin is a global leadership coach. She works with senior-level clients on six continents: N. America, S. America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. She is a coach and mentor to TED Fellows, a Founding Fellow at Harvard Institute of Coaching, McLean Medical School, creator of the Shadow Coaching® Methodology, an international speaker and award-winning author.

Donna wears several hats professionally, including those of Founder of the School of Shadow Coaching®, and Founder of the leadership coaching and consulting firm A Better Perspective®.

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Donna was previously a guest on Let’s Talk Leadership back in late 2015. This time around we talked about Donna’s new venture, the No Ceiling, Just Sky® Institute, launching officially at the end of this month.

I have never ceased to be amazed at the depth and range of Donna’s work and the extent of her client group. In this conversation she shared a bit about how she keeps track of it all. I’m still amazed.

The No Ceiling, Just Sky® Institute

The Institute is about providing a “360° approach to human evolvement. Working with the intersection of human and organizational systems and their influencers“.

The Institute had its origins in:

  • an intention made by Donna in early 2016, about learning and sharing, and
  • a conversation with a friend

The Institute enables Donna to bring together under one umbrella her various resources – the School of Shadow Coaching, A Better Perspective, and her R&D team – and draw on all those resources to meet the needs of her various and disparate clients.

I asked whether, in an age when so many people in business are urged to develop expertise in one niche, someone might ask if the scope of the Institute was too broad.

The response would be that it might be too broad for someone asking, but not for Donna.

Which led to these observations as food for thought for coaches:

Are we giving clients what they need, or what they think they could get?

And maybe it’s time that more coaches… worked with their clients to co-create an intervention that was not only powerful, but was true to them.

Which. said Donna, is “what this Institute is all about“.

Observations on a hypothetical about decision-making at a senior level

Too many issues are seen as “either/or”, or “this or that”, when a better approach might be “why not both?”,

Or issues are approached from a perspective of scarcity rather than abundance.

We also talked about

Ideal clients and the pleasure of working with people who are eager to try things out, “dancing in realtime with potential change”.

The manifesto for the Institute, including “Dance with change”, “Embrace chaos”, and “Move”.

Marrying flexibility of decision-making and action with highly organised systems and protocols, as in – especially – the military, security services and such. Donna shared a fascinating example from her work with the military, with applicability in a broader range, beyond the military. NB for anyone interested in helping avoid leadership burnout. .

How she does it all. Yes, she has a team of people to call on, including the Strategic Red Team Consulting, of which Donna is an associate. A very flexible and adaptable team from the sound of it.

And two more quotes

We need to bring more of the curiosity kind of conversation into boardroom meetings.

I really believe there is no ceiling, just sky.

Note: there are a couple of references in the interview to Thomas Leonard (or just “Thomas”), a legendary figure in our coaching world, who died suddenly in early 2003.

Contact Details for Donna and Info about the Institute

For more information about Donna and her various activities, and about the Institute, just go to her Donna Karlin website at http://donnakarlin.com. And her LinkedIn profile is at http://linkedin.com/in/donnakarlin.

Leading Local Economic Development: Cr Hermann Vorster [Podcast]

Leading Local Economic Development: Cr Hermann Vorster [Podcast]

Councillor Hermann Vorster, Gold Coast City CouncilCouncillor Hermann Vorster represents Division 11 on the City Council of the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. He also chairs the Council’s Economic Development and Major Events Committee.  He also serves on the City Planning and City Infrastructure committees.

Just before Christmas 2016 Cr Vorster was the guest speaker at the end of year event hosted by the IT Forum Gold Coast. I was very impressed with his vision of the economic development potential of this local region and seized the opportunity to invite him on to the Let’s Talk Leadership show. Happily, he agreed!

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Click Here for More About Cr Vorster

City of the Gold Coast

With 38 kilometers of white, sandy beaches, ancient rainforest and hinterland, the city has great lifestyle appeal and on that basis has had extraordinary growth in a relatively short period: it’s now Australia’s 6th largest city and in area the second largest local government area in Australia.

Surfers at Snapper Rocks

Surfers at Snapper Rocks

Historically the economy has depended on construction and tourism, both subject – positively and negatively – to fluctuations in the economy.

The Council’s aim is to position the city to embrace the digital economy, in a way that adds value.

Download the Council’s Economic Development Strategy at this link.

We’re a city that has that entrepreneurial, “have a go” spirit.

Having gained experience in “the crucible of family business”, Cr Vorster became involved in public policy and the media.

Like a lot of people, I got a little bit frustrated with the decisions that were being made around me and decided – foolheartedly, I think – to enter public life.

Gold Coast by night, Yupeng Wu

Gold Coast view by night

Leadership and Balancing Interests

We talked about the Council’s decision to make a major investment in telecommunications infrastructure – historically in Australia the preserve of the Federal Government (with some partial involvement at times by State governments). So this was being done in the clear knowledge that there was an element of political risk involved.

Cr Vorster commented that when investment decisions are made for specific economic development projects, some may not see the benefit for them and may feel left out. It’s essential to communicate openly with them and, for instance, point to spillover benefits for other areas of the community.

Bringing the Community with You

To bring the community with you on big decisions, it’s necessary to:

  • speak to people in their own language
  • research what their priorities are
  • respond to what that tells you

He gave the example of a street with schoolteacher residents but no broadband. People understand when the need to remedy that is explained in terms of enabling those teachers to prepare better to teach the community’s children.

Commonwealth Games 2018

The upcoming Commonwealth Games, to be held on the Gold Coast, is a major event, which, like an Olympic Games, is over in a short period of time. What people want is a legacy, so there are key decisions about how to achieve that.

Innovation Hub

There have been global success stories for businesses built on the Gold Coast.

Important to get those who have success to stick around and thus encourage others.

The Council’s role is to do what it can at a public policy level to create a supportive environment for that.

People do not like change and there is a challenge in how to talk to people about change.

More about Cr Vorster and Contact Details

A former Bond University Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar, he has degree qualifications in accounting, corporate strategy and business information systems.

Elected in 2016, Councillor Vorster became the City of Gold Coast’s youngest ever Councillor at age 30. He has had a number of leadership roles in community groups including Gold Coast District Neighbourhood Watch Incorporated and the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland (CCIQ) Regional Policy Board.

Contact Details

Email: division11@goldcoast.qld.gov.au

Phone (mobile/cell): In Australia – 0405 414 931 From outside Australia – 61 405414931

Image credits

  • Surfers at Snapper Rocks – Des Walsh
  • Gold Coast view by night – Yupeng Wu via Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0
Transforming Careers, Guiding Business: Larry Cornett: [Podcast]

Transforming Careers, Guiding Business: Larry Cornett: [Podcast]

Dr Larry CornettDr Larry Cornett is a business advisor and career consultant and Founder of Brilliant Forge. He helps people redefine their career, regain their freedom, and reclaim their life.

Prior to founding Brilliant Forge, Larry was a product and design executive with over 18 years of experience designing, defining, and building consumer products at a number of technology and internet companies in Silicon Valley; including Apple Computer, Yahoo, eBay, and IBM. Most recently, he was the Vice President of Consumer Products for Yahoo! Search, leading a team of product managers, designers, and developers who were focused on creating world-class Search experiences to compete with Google and Bing.

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Different styles of leadership needed for different contexts

Brilliant ForgeThe style of leadership you need to use varies with the type of people that you’re managing.

Also with a global team there are different cultural considerations, with varying expectations about leadership and differences in the practice of leadership. And with different levels of seniority there are different issues to consider.

Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence

In 1993, some of the change we are looking at now was deemed “just around the corner”.

Now, with processing power and the miniaturization of components we have reached a point where what was dreamed of can now become a reality.

I think we’re right on the edge of a big transformation. It’s got some really good points, I think. There’s a lot of concern as well.

On the theme of concerns about impact, Larry mentioned the acquisition this year by Uber of the company Otto with its autonomous (“self-driving”) trucks.

So the fear is – I don’t know how long it’s going to take – that’s going to put over two and a half million people out of work. That’s kind of the flipside of the promise. Every time you do this – you automate something – somebody loses a job.

We Also Discussed

Education – we need to educate children to teach themselves: learn how to learn.

Leadership for global teams – a different style of leadership; requires practice; a whole new style people are going to have to learn.

Transaction-thinking vs Relationship-building and the lifetime value of a customer (LVC).

The increasing necessity for business leaders to become active on social media and deal with the challenge of committing the necessary time (some practical advice here).

What keeps startup founders awake at night?

The velocity required for execution and growth.

Hungry competitors – other startups.

Giant companies with deep pockets – uneven contest.

Larry’s Software Project

VoiceKick is a micropodcasting app for IOS. Their Pearl app combines voice with photos you have on your phone and allows you to make a 60 sec video with narration. Search for these on the App Store using VoiceKick for the search term.

More about Larry and Contact Details

As well as being part of those larger corporations, Larry has founded his own small businesses and tech startups.

He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Rice University with an emphasis on Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction.

On Twitter, he is @cornett

On his Brilliant Forge website there is Contact page.

Innovation Leaders are Learners: Annalie Killian [Podcast]

Innovation Leaders are Learners: Annalie Killian [Podcast]

Annalie Killian @Maverickwoman

Annalie Killian’s passion is combining humans and machines in ways that maximise creativity and grow performance and engagement.

She is currently curating a “cloud of human creativity” for sparks & honey, a cultural insights and innovation agency in New York, experimenting with exponential organizational design and reciprocal networks.

From 2000-2015 she was SVP of Innovation & Communication at AMP – an iconic Australian Financial Services brand. She founded the Amplify Festival of Innovation & Thought Leadership and over 10 years grew it into a globally-recognized engine for systemic and culture change across a business eco-system, and a vehicle for accelerating learning and organizational agility.

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Click Here for More About Annalie

What We Talked About

We discussed a range of topics, including:

  • Innovation and what it means
  • Leadership for the digital age
  • Resisters and saboteurs
  • Challenges of having responsibility for innovation
  • Pay equity for women
  • What keeps business owners awake at night

Plus a special invitation to people in or visiting New York

Innovation – Towards a Definition

Having researched the various formal definitions of innovation, Annalie found and liked this:

You’re innovative when other people say you’re innovative.

And added:

When people think you’re innovative, that’s when your brand has shifted.

Perceptions can change – example of Apple and Microsoft

Implicit in this part of the conversation was a shared surprise, as in, who would ever have thought we would be talking about Microsoft stealing a march on Apple in the innovation stakes?

(Microsoft) have sort of captured the imagination of the makers and the creators and those are the people at the edge.

Leadership for the Digital Age

It’s about leadership being open and curious and understanding that the context has shifted.

Leadership fundamentally starts with listening and not talking.

Resisters and Saboteurs

The biggest barriers to innovation in large corporations are leaders who are threatened by admitting that they don’t know the answers.

Iconic brands are brands that stay in tune with cultural shifts.

The biggest danger for leadership is not to be plugged into the edge.

We shared a memory of an exemplary moment of servant leadership by Peter Mason AM, former Chairman of AMP, who in a workshop Des led at an early Amplify festival was the first and only volunteer for an online experiment with a personal data aggregator. Annalie spoke very eloquently of his leadership and his support for innovation.

Challenges of Responsibility for Innovation

Don’t do it if you need popularity.

…if you’re going to be good at your job you’re going to get up people’s nose.

Pay Equity for Women

I paid tribute to the fact that Annalie had achieved so much in some very traditionally male dominated industries – mining, financial services and now, as she reminded me in terms of industry traditions, advertising. That led to a discussion about pay equity and a strong call by Annalie for those in a position to change the injustice of any current situation to take action to change that. I recalled that some 55 years ago my late mother had made a speech to a State conference of her political party on this very subject – such a long and unjustifiable time to fix what is wrong!

What Keeps Business Leaders Awake At Night?

Going back to our earlier conversation about leadership for the digital age, a big problem for some leaders is feeling they have to know everything, be in total command of everything, which is no longer feasible.

Annalie’s surefire remedy for leaderly sleeplessness:

Be a learner

And a related paraphrase of a comment by systems scientist Peter Senge:

The only sustainable advantage in the long run is to outlearn the competition.

More about Annalie and Contact Details


Annalie is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s First Movers Programme and in 2013 the Hargraves Institute for Innovation recognized her contribution to the Innovation Agenda in Australia.

Contact Details

Annalie is @Maverickwoman on Twitter. You can find her also on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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Social Media for Tourism Leadership: Sheila Scarborough [Podcast]

Social Media for Tourism Leadership: Sheila Scarborough [Podcast]

Sheila ScarboroughSheila Scarborough is a speaker and trainer specializing in tourism, travel, and social media. She’s written for many blogs and print publications and is also a certified Navy Master Training Specialist, with years of experience as an instructor.

Along with Leslie McLellan, she’s part of the Tourism Currents team, offering an online course and in-person training in social media for tourism and hospitality.

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Leadership Qualities

Surprisingly, sometimes depth of knowledge is not as important as the ability to ask the right questions.

Does the experience of military leadership translate easily into the business world?

The greatest struggle can be in having been used to being on a team. As a solo entrepreneur “there’s no one to turn to, until you can hire someone you trust enough”. This is especially challenging for people who’ve been in very senior military positions.

It’s a constant learning process, as a leader. If you ever think you have it all figured out, that means you think you have human beings all figured out. And you’re wrong.

A key issue for leaders is keeping up with change – which means continuous learning

You’ve got to be educating yourself and letting yourself be foolish and letting yourself go and learn things and do things that maybe mean being a little uncomfortable and silly, but that’s how you learn.

Social Media and Tourism

Tourism Currents’ primary client group is the larger tourism organizations, but those organizations ask for help with social media training for tourism partners (hospitality, destinations…), so Tourism Currents have been doing quite a bit of partner training.

Some observations on that:

  • People get too concerned about the technology
  • Need to think of using social media as a different way to do what you’ve always done (in promoting your destination)
  • People become frozen with the options available – have to get people to focus

You don’t have to be on every social channel. You need to be on the ones where your market is.

Key advice they provide for these tourism partners – two essential steps

  1. Claim your business on Google My Business. Fill out all the information, upload pictures, respond to reviews
  2. Maintain one really good Facebook page

Do those two things well and you’ll probably survive…

It’s a long game: needs patience.

Social Media in Different Countries and With Different Cultural Groups

A number of things are the same everywhere.

One of the challenges – everywhere – is in getting people to understand that using social media effectively has to go beyond “pumping out the updates”. There has to be interaction.

Some say they hadn’t been told there was an expectation for interaction.

The Impact of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality on Tourism

Are virtual reality/augmented reality a threat to tourism destinations? Sheila does not believe so. She used the example of experiencing a virtual tour of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, in Winnipeg. Far from feeling she had seen enough, the experience made her want to visit the actual museum.

People still want to go and visit the Grand Canyon in person.

More about Sheila and Contact Details

Sheila is on the National Professional Development Committee for the AWC (Association for Women in Communications,) co-founded and still writes for the award-winning Perceptive Travel blog, helps run #tourismchat on Twitter, and serves on the Programming Committee for SXSWi, the South by Southwest Interactive tech conference.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Sheila is an NHRA drag racing fan “because there is one winner, one loser, and no whining”.

You can contact Sheila via the Tourism Currents site, which includes a blog and various resources.

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Social Media Strategy Checklist for Leaders [Podcast]

Social Media Strategy Checklist for Leaders [Podcast]

Erik Qualman on social media


In this podcast episode I talk about how Business leaders need to be able to fit expectations and demands about social media into a strategic framework that is a good fit with their overall business strategy and I share a link to my Social Media Strategy Checklist.

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Whether you are a beginner in using social media for business, or an active or even advanced user, this checklist is for you. You can use it to guide your own thinking and as a basis for a strategy review session with your team.

The checklist is based on my Simple Social Media Strategy Template, which has been used effectively for a range of organizations, from small business through to a very large organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It’s scaleable!

Get Your Copy of the Checklist

To download your free copy of the checklist, just click here to go to the Home Page on this site, drop your name and email address into the box there, confirm that when requested and you will get an email with the link to download the checklist.

Key Areas

There are nine key areas requiring our attention for a comprehensive strategy:

  1. Commitment
  2. Culture
  3. Market
  4. Goals
  5. Resources
  6. Listening
  7. Engaging
  8. Technology
  9. Evaluation

(Each of these is explained in detail on the podcast.)

Tools to help research your market’s activity in social media and learn more about your customers’ and prospects’ concerns

  • Create a survey with Google Forms or SurveyMonkey.
  • Create lists on Twitter, either with Twitter itself or a dashboard application such as Hootsuite
  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups and listen
  • For the USA check out the Pew Internet research site and search on social media
  • For Australia, study the annual Sensis report on social media – here is the link to the 2016 report

Planning, Scheduling, Analytics and other Social Media Management Tools

(Note: the pricing structures of these services vary – the figures I quoted on the podcast and the figures here are as good as I can work out – open to correction/improvement)

  • Hubspot Marketing Platform – US$200 a month (paid annually) with $600 onboarding, up to enterprise level at $2,400 a month and $5,000 onboarding: there is a 30 day free trial
  • Buffer – free then $10 a month
  • Hootsuite – free then $9.99 a month up to $99.99 a month per user, then custom pricing – check addons
  • SproutSocial – $59 per month per user up to $500 per month for 3 users: 30 day free trial on any plan
  • Edgar – $49 a month basic (expected to rise soon to around $79: 14 day free trial

Other services that seem worth checking out

Agorapulse | Jollor | MavSocial | Oktopost (especially for B2B) | Sendible | Friends+Me (for Google+). TweetDeck is just for Twitter and seems not to be getting much care from Twitter.

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New Community Leadership for Small Towns: Becky McCray [Podcast]

New Community Leadership for Small Towns: Becky McCray [Podcast]

Becky McCray - photo by Deb BrownBecky McCray is a small town business owner; she and her husband Joe own a retail liquor store and a cattle ranch in the United States. She shares insights from this real-world experience at her highly-ranked website, Small Biz Survival, and in her award-winning book, Small Town Rules.

As always when Becky and I have a good old chat, we both find ourselves surprised and delighted at how much the concerns of small communities are not dissimilar, even thousands of miles apart across the wide Pacific.

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An Emerging Style of Collaborative Leadership

There has been a sea change in how leadership works in small towns.

The time when a group of just a few people could sit in a room and run your town are over. The center of power has shifted.

More collaborative now, more project-focused.

Becky illustrated with the story of a playground in her town that was in serious need of restoration and upgrading of equipment.

The entire project was driven by people getting involved and not by a few people telling everyone what to do.

Coffee and Calendars – Getting Groups to Work Together

The Coffee and Calendars process – simple and effective.

There are still small towns where various groups operate independently of one another – a kind of silo effect.

Becky shows them how to deal with this by encouraging them to just start by getting together, a couple of people at a time. Two people, each from a different group or organization, bring their group’s calendar, meet for coffee and compare calendars. Then they meet others and repeat the process. People gradually find ways to collaborate.

We also talked about the importance of being proactive if you want to engage groups who are not usually involved and may actually feel uncomfortable at events, even where the existing group wants them involved. Ask about their concerns, about ways the existing group might be able to support them.

Engaging Young People

A big problem in trying to get young people involved in volunteer activity is the old committee structures.

Story of Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and a guided process of listening to young people.

If the community is interested in bringing young people in, the first thing is to abolish your existing formal structures and leadership roles. Make it much more informal, much more project-based, with shorter timeframes.

And then listen to them.

Social Media Key to Information Sharing

Social media is extremely important in small communities. It’s the new informal center of information dissemination and actually faster than the old town gossip was at getting the information out.

It’s crucial for people to use the social media tools to get good stories about their community shared.

Do not wait until the most negative, hateful person in town decides to start using online tools, such as a blog, to run your community into the ground, … Start by setting up ways to share positive information about your community.


Knowing that Becky is a fund of information and ideas about how to develop and promote tourism for local communities and knowing how important that is for some communities’ very survival, I asked her for some thoughts on this.

Key points:

  • If people think it’s a nice place to visit, they’ll think it’s a nice place to live
  • There is a trend for travellers to seek out sites off the beaten track, with local cultural experiences – think local artists and artisans
  • Regional and quirky are in

Clay elephant from JavaI shared an experience of visiting a very poor village in Java years ago and the way they had been helped to use the resources they had to create objects for tourists – my clay elephant story.


What keeps local leaders in this new world awake at night?  Resistance to new ideas. Through their SaveYour.town initiative, Becky and her colleague Deb Brown have developed the “Idea Friendly” concept to help people deal with that resistance.

More about Becky and Contact Details

Becky’s practical perspective is often featured in a wide range of media, from The New York Times to The High Plains Journal. She makes her home base in Hopeton, Oklahoma, a community of 30 people. Her goal is to deliver practical steps you can put into action right away to shape the future of your town.

Contact details for Becky

On Twitter at @BeckyMcCray

Project with Deb Brown for small towns – SaveYour.town

Lots of good reading in Becky’s articles at SmallBizSurvival.com

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LTL Ep 32: The Art of Leading Non Profit Organizations [Podcast]

LTL Ep 32: The Art of Leading Non Profit Organizations [Podcast]

Leadership quote Madeleine M Kunin

Non Profit – the Economic Dimension

According to a World Bank report, if the global nonprofit sector were a country, it would have the sixteenth largest economy in the world. In 2012 alone, the nonprofit sector contributed $878 billion to the US economy, about 5.4 percent of the nation’s GDP.

With stakes that high, we could be forgiven for thinking there would be some serious research and discussion about leadership for nonprofit organizations. But evidently the research is quite limited at best: most of the research on leadership is in the for-profit and government sectors.

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“Non Profit” or “Not for Profit”? There is a message in the use of the term “not for profit” rather than “non profit”, namely that organizations in that sector often make profits and at times quite substantially, but the profits are not distributed to shareholders, owners, or founders. Or should not be! Profits are used to maintain and grow the organization or maybe contributed to the sector in some way. From my reading, in practice the terms are used interchangeably.


  • Social and human services
  • Health care
  • Community development
  • Arts and culture
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Sport

Measures of success

Generalization alert!

  • Forprofit – profit-focused leadership
  • Notforprofit – more relationship-based, priority on democratic decision-making and execution

Skills, Qualities, Behaviors

Various qualities/skills/behaviors common to leadership for both sectors.

Some attitudes/skills/behaviors characterizing nonprofit:

  • Decision-making more democratic
  • Collaboration very important
  • Vision making and vision communication crucial
  • High demand for skill in complex communications

The Ideal

Ideal skill/competence set: combine private sector business acumen with competence in traditional nonprofit culture (For this insight/formulation, acknowledging the paper Understanding leadership in successful non-profit organizations).

Business acumen

Includes financial competence, mission-definition, strategic thinking/planning, ability to scale, environment awareness, technological capacity, entrepreneurship, social media literacy and competency, attention to governance (transparency and accountability).

Traditional nonprofit culture

Democratic decision-making, respect for organization’s history, founders, respect for volunteers.
vision-making and vision-communicating, special demand on communication skills – team, board, partners, sponsors (government, business, community).

Also – listening, patience, valuing diversity – including age

Ability to work with boards of diverse backgrounds, including business people who are often not taking the role seriously enough and/or are less than rigorous in their service. There for the kudos or to do a favor. (“Give, get or get off”)

The Volunteer Sector

Many but not all nonprofits are volunteer based or rely extensively on volunteers (e.g. animal rescue organizations, sporting clubs, public galleries and museums).

Need to understand volunteers – why they join, why they stay, how to engage, how to reward, how to respect and engage skillsets and enthusiasm, what annoys or disappoints, how to recruit more.

Creative Industry Sector

Theatre directors, actors, dancers, musicians pride themselves on not being money-driven. Leader has to champion and represent their passion and at the same time balance the books.

Support, communication, attentive listening, and to others effective lobbying and acknowledgement.

Story of Arts Council of Great Britain’s man’s comment about what makes a good arts administrator – have “bowels of compassion for the artist” and be a good administrator. You need to listen to get the full dimensions of this. Reference is biblical – ? 1 John 17 in the King James Version.

A Quote That Sums it Up

“A strong nonprofit leader drives a sense of mission down through the organization, upward into the board and outward in to the community. He or she is willing to do whatever it takes to enable the organization to follow their mission effectively.”
Paul Light. 2002. Grasping for the Ring: Defining Strong Nonprofit Leadership

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LTL Ep31 Leadership and Awareness: Krishna Kumar [Podcast]

LTL Ep31 Leadership and Awareness: Krishna Kumar [Podcast]

Krishna Kumar, President International Association of CoachingKrishna Kumar is a pioneer in the field of Leadership & Executive Coaching in Asia. A Master Coach and Trainer, he has coached Executives, Entrepreneurs and CEOs and works closely with some of the most renowned organisations in India and abroad. In a career spanning 30 years, Krishna Kumar has donned several hats as a a corporate executive, entrepreneur, independent director, management consultant, B-school faculty and Tennis coach.

He is the founder-director of (ISEC) Intrad School of Executive Coaching, which runs programs for certifying individuals as coaches.

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Click Here for More About Krishna

Awareness, Tennis and Leadership

The opening (and, as it turned out, recurring) topic for our conversation was “Being Aware – the Secret to Powerful Leadership”.

Krishna quoted the legendary tennis champion Billie-Jean King (39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s double and 11 mixed doubles) as saying that self awareness is the secret of being a champion.

Connection between tennis and the corporate world. The sports field is like a laboratory, with lessons that can be learnt on the tennis court and transported into the corporate world.

He has long been inspired by the insights and work of Timothy Gallwey, especially in his modern classic The Inner Game of Work.

Many leaders come to their position without experience of serious failure. Even the greatest sports champions experience failure: they learn how to cope with wins and losses, as long as they have more wins than losses. In the corporate world many work not-to-fail rather than to succeed.

Importance of having awareness of the environment in which the business operates.

Scaling Up and Major Change

Challenges for young developers who become CEOs of fast-growing startups. Investors want rapid growth. Krishna’s advice – you as leader are always going to be the visionary and you need to be ok about handing over management to others.

CEO challenge with major change is to create and share a strong story of a bright future – a strategic story of success.

Four areas of awareness for a CEO initiating a change process

  1. self awareness
  2. awareness of others (company wide)
  3. systems (and broader environment) awareness
  4. strategy (left and right brain in sync)


We talked also about:

  • warning signs that a leader needs to do something about self-awareness
  • what keeps business leaders awake at night

More about Krishna and Contact Details

Active in the coaching community, Krishna is the President of the International Association of Coaching (IAC) and a Member on the IAC’s global Board of Governors. A Board Certified Coach (BCC) by the Center For Credentialing and Education (CCE), USA, he is also a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching Professional Association (ICPA), a Harvard Medical School affiliate.

Krishna is a USPTR certified tennis coaching professional and also the recipient of the USPTR India Coach of the Year award in 2011 and the USPTR President’s 2002 award for contribution to the field of tennis coaching. His passion for the game of tennis led to the establishment of Kinesis Sports, which is rated as India’s premier tennis academy. Kinesis, India’s first and only ISO 9001 – 2008 certifed tennis training institution is supported by a top-notch team of coaches who train around 300+ students every year.

Krishna Kumar is a visiting faculty at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and his articles are regularly published in leading business magazines.

Contact Krishna

ISEC India websiteISEC India

Email: kk@intradconsult.com

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