Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Greetings

Christmas eve! Where has the year gone?

Leadership has been an interesting study in 2009. I've observed lots of management, lots of manipulation, lots of the seeking and using of power and authority, lots of posturing, lots of politics: very little leadership. I see in this morning's papers that the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney says we are too hard on our political "leaders". I don't think we're hard enough on any of them whether they are political, religious, business, or societal. The result is that we get the leadership we deserve - largely operating in the 'red zone' (see rather than the 'blue zone'.

The Copenhagen Climate Conference is a case in point. Most people there were more concerned about the medium term impacts on their economies by any firm targets rather than on the good of our planet and what we will bequeath to our grandchildren's grandchildren. Talk about "the sins of the fathers.."

But Christmas is the time for peace and goodwill so I'll stop critiquing.

Thank you for reading my blogs. A special thanks to those of you who have taken the trouble to contact me directly to talk about things I have said.

I wish you a very merry Christmas and a wonderful 2010.

More information about Doug Long and how I may be able to help you at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Right Thing

The Copenhagen Climate Conference is now over and a predictable outcome - ie no real agreement - is the result. As is to be expected, both those who want action on climate change and those who oppose it are leveraging from the result to bolster their position.

Its a real dilemma for national leaders. On the one hand there is abundant evidence of climate change - the huge snow storms in the USA and Europe are not in accord with established weather patterns; glaciers are melting in the Arctic and Antarctic; droughts and fires continue to ravage Australia. On the other hand debate rages as to whether these changes are caused by human action through such issues as CO2 emission and the argument is made that countries will suffer economic problems if industries are forced to change established habits. Do our national leaders pay attention to long term environmental issues or shorter term economic issues?

A few years ago Professor Warren Bennis, a leading leadership researcher and writer, said; "Managers do things right: Leaders do the right thing." His argument was that sometimes leaders need to be prepared to break the rules in order to bring about the desired future.

Elliot Jacques (Requisite Organization, 1998, Cason, Hall & Co, VA) talks about the need for people at different levels of organisations to have increasing degrees of competence to handle complexity. He argues that people with responsibility for major organisations with very complex goals and strategies need to be able to deal with potential issues some 50 years hence. He makes the point that many problems arise because people making decisions do not have the competence to deal with the levels of complexity involved - in that case they over simplify or opt for the status quo because they are out of their depth even if they are not aware of it. Other researchers, Don Beck and Chris Cowan (Spiral Dynamics, 1996, Blackwell Publishers, inc) make a similar point when they argue that most of today's problems arose from yesterday's decisions.

I want a world for my grandchildren and their grandchildren that is even better than the one in which we live today. I am concerned that our "leaders" - political, business, religious, social - all too often are unable to deal with the levels of complexity they encounter.

More information about Doug Long and how I may be able to help you at

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What is your intelligence?

Today I note that, in New South Wales, Australia students who have completed their secondary schooling receive their academic ranking - that which will determine what universities and courses they will be able to access in 2010. There'll be a lot of very happy young people: I suspect there will be more who will be unhappy, and some who will be devastated.

Yesterday on ABC FM I heard a repeat of an interview with Sir Ken Robinson of England - an educator of some renown. In the interview he made the point that one of the problems today is that we place undue stress on IQ. He said that there were many different types of intelligence and that, very often, people have to recover from the hurt done to them in school (the emphasis on IQ with the corollary that unless you are academically good you are a failure) before they can fulfil their potential. Some people, of course, never get over this hurt. Robinson suggested that the question we should ask is not : "What is your intelligence?" but "What intelligence are you?" Vastly different questions.

In my mentoring I encounter many people who have been hurt by life events yet have managed to recover from that hurt and go on to make a difference both in their own life and in the lives of those with whom they interact. Very often it is because the people who have been key influences in their past have assessed success or failure by some unitary measure - money, academic results, fame etc.

Recently I have been involved in an on-line discussion on the subject: "Why, in a multi-dimensional world do we continue to rely on single-dimensional measures?" The general consensus seems to be that we use single-dimension measures because they tend to be quick and easy and it enables us to pigeonhole people and organisations very rapidly. The consensus also seem to be that effective leaders use multi-dimensional measures.

What measures do you use to assess success in your life and that of those with whom you interact? What measures do you use to assess the success of your organisation?

The issue may be more one of what you measure rather than the results of your measurement.

More information about Doug Long and how I may be able to help you at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Loss of control

What do you do when your business reaches the point where more capital is required for further growth? This is the question that has been worrying one of my clients recently. He asked me; "Is this a leadership or a management issue?"

Its both.

On the surface its a simple management issue - focus on your vision, develop appropriate objectives/goals/strategies (including capital raising), and implement. But underneath is the emotional/leadership issue of power/control/ownership. There are many examples of entrepreneurs dealing with the money issue successfully only to fail because of the underlying emotional one - "I have (or am about to be) losing control!"

There is no question that my client will be able to raise the money he needs - the question relates to the source of the money and the impact that this will have on his role. Will it result in a change of organisational culture so that economic indicators become the total focus rather than the "how' things are achieved as well as the "what" is achieved?

Right now we are exploring the following questions:
  1. how do the sources of finance fit with my vision and goals?
  2. what role will the sources of finance expect to have in the business?
  3. what are the implications of this on me and my staff?
  4. what are the risks and how do they measure up against the returns?
  5. what preparation will I need to make with my staff and clients/customers if changes are going to occur?
  6. what is my "gut feeling" about this source of finance and what are the implications of this?

Leadership and management are not distinct disciplines. In this instance there is a very clear overlap and serious attention needs to be paid to both sides.

More information about Doug long and how I may be able to help you at

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Leaders and the brain

Christmas is traditionally a time for happiness, relaxation, and 'the family'. But for some people it can be a time of utter depression and despondency.

Over recent weeks this has been brought home to me again.

I am not a clinical psychologist - my doctorate is in organisational psychology - but I did train as a counsellor and, over the years, I have found that training invaluable. I don't run a counselling practice - I'm a mentor, coach and facilitator - but there are times when mentoring, coaching, and counselling have very blurred lines separating them.

In these blogs I have (with permission) referred to people having problems and I have indicated the ways in which they are dealing with these - in my experience, helping people deal with personal problems is a not uncommon part of mentoring and coaching. But I have made reference, too, to some people who have been unable to cope - their problems reached the point where they felt that death was a preferable alternative. Last week this again came to the fore but, this time, the person involved was prepared to talk with me and find a way forward.

In today's society we are bombarded by so much information and are forced to confront so many competing issues that leaders can get distracted from "people issues" to "a bigger picture" - the organisation overall. The result is that, just when our people need us most, we are 'missing in action'. Sometimes the more senior a person is in the organisational hierarchy the less likely it is that he or she will ask for help from their leader or even acknowledge to their leader that a personal problem exists let alone that they are having trouble coping. Too often we seem to expect our managers and executives to be 'super people' who can deal with work, personal, and social issues efficiently and effectively without help. The result is burnout, inappropriate behaviour, declining productivity, or all the above.

Andrew Mowat (, John Corrigan, and I have just had our new book published ("The Success Zone", in which we explore our learning in neuroscience and the way in which changing the locus of control in our brains can have significant positive impact on our leader behaviour and on leadership overall.

We use the term "red zone" to explain behaviour where a person feels their survival is threatened and they see themselves as under attack or inadequate. In extreme cases this can lead to depression and feeling of total hopelessness. We contrast this with the "blue zone" which is where people have learned to shift their brain's locus of control to the neofrontal cortex - a situation in which change can be contemplated without feeling threatened and in which creativity and innovation can occur. In the "blue zone" there is no miraculous, deus ex machina changing of the situation with which we are confronted - but there is a significant shift in the way we deal with the situation.

Fortunately, last week, the person with whom I was working was prepared to learn how to change the locus of control in their brain. They still have a long way to go - but now they can see some way forward and are prepared to work on this. There is now a reasonable chance that Christmas might be a lot more positive for them and their family.

More information about Doug Long and how I may be able to help you at

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Values and the Leader

Last week I spent several hours with a person who is feeling very frustrated. He was running a very successful business but, in February last year, two key customers started experiencing difficulties - suddenly revenues dropped significantly. Initially he thought this was a minor hiccup but then the global financial crisis hit and, almost over night, other of his customers were also affected.

My friend has a value set which believes that you should look after the people who work for you and, when this issue first erupted, he had 14 people employed. After a few weeks he realised that, in the short term, revenues were not going to grow back to even close to where they had been (and forget profitability!) so he sat with his people, gave them the facts, and asked for suggestions as to the way forward. He made it very clear that dismissals were an option but not one that he wanted to take. A range of solutions were suggested and implemented and no-one was laid off.

Unfortunately things haven't yet improved. Customers are buying the bare minimums they need and crunch time has come. He is grappling with taking actions that will ensure his survival but which will hurt people about whom he cares and who have given him years of service. How can he reconcile his concern for his family with concern for his employees - all of whom he also considers to be friends.

Sometimes leaders are confronted by situations which challenge their values. They find that values which they thought were very simple are actually conflicting - as is the case with my friend. Like many people I know, my friend had never before confronted the question of his core values - he simply took them as granted and thought that everything would work out ok.

Right now we're going through the exercise of really understanding and enunciating both "what are the values?" and "what does this mean in practical everyday behaviours?"

When did you last really think about your values and how they impact on behaviour whether it is at work, in the home, or in your social life? What happens when there's a clash and survival becomes an issue?

More information about Doug Long and how I may be able to help you at

Friday, December 4, 2009

Effective Leadership?

In July 2009, the Society for Knowledge Economics published a report titled: Workplaces of the Future. In this they quoted a report from Gallup Consulting stating that, in Australia, around 80% of people are "not fully engaged at work" and that this was costing Australian businesses some $33Billion a year.

In November 2009, the Australian Government released the results of an international benchmarking study comparing Australian practices with the rest of the world. This report showed that Australia compared favourably in relation to performance and operations management but was less effective at people management. (,aspx)

The recent turmoil in the Australian Parliamentary Liberal Party and the NSW Labor Party are prominent illustrations of the problems associated with a failure to lead organisations in such a way that people are engaged. They illustrate a type of leadership, unfortunately all too common, in which there is no real attempt to create an environment in which people can be successful. The result is dysfunctional organisations which cater for factional interests and in which individual agendas take precedence over organisational priorities - and, in these examples, over national and state interests as well.

Group 8 Management's work in the education field ( has shown that schools can be transformed when teachers engage students both personally and with content. For this to happen, the leadership team in the school needs to create a culture in which everyone feels safe and in which there is unconditional respect for every person - in other words, people can distinguish between "the person" who is always acceptable and "the behaviour" which may not be always acceptable. When this happens, academic results rise and antisocial behaviour reduces.

In my work of re-creating leaders and organisations, facilitating engagement of everyone involved is critical. As the Gallup Consulting Report makes clear, this has very significant economic benefits for the organisation - and tremendous personal benefits for the individual.

More information about Doug Long and how I can help you at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When Leadership Fails

The current disarray in the Liberal Party of Australia illustrates the problems that occur when a leader fails to fulfil one of his or her most critical functions.

In my mentoring of leaders I stress a lesson learned by me many years ago: unless a leader develops at least 2 (and preferably 3) people who are able to step in when the leadership becomes vacant for any reason, that leader has failed. The true measure of whether or not a leader is successful depends on what happens to the organisation after he or she is promoted or moves on. If the unit or organisation degenerates into chaos then, no matter what happened during his or her incumbency, the leader has failed.

Over the years I have seen this scenario reenacted time and again. Think of the businesses that grew and returned good dividends and stock prices under one CEO, only to be broken up within a short time of a "strong leader" leaving - for those of us old enough to remember, IT&T under Harold Geneen is but one example. Of course political examples when a party leader retires or is "retired" are even more frequent.

One of the problems we face today is that, all too often, success is measured by the wrong things. If a person is perceived to have fame, power and/or wealth then they are portrayed as being "success stories". The cult of personality or power takes precedence over long term effective and successful leadership. This is readily seen by a simple examination of people to whom the media afford high visibility - many of them have done little or nothing for the betterment of any organisation let alone of our world. Such a scenario encourages "leaders" to be ego driven and to place more emphasis on "how" they are perceived rather than that for "what" they have done to grow their organisations or to improve things around them. The result can be an emphasis on style rather than on substance - we get "show ponies" rather "race winners".

As a mentor, I challenge the people with whom I work to answer the following questions:
  • What is your vision - in other words, what is the ideal state for your organisation in, say 10 years?
  • What are your compass bearings - in other words, what are the very specific strategies and objectives you have set for the next 2, 5, and 7 years?
  • What are the current capabilities of your organisation?
  • What are the capabilities needed in your organisation for your dream to be realised?
  • What do you need to do in order for these additional capabilities to exist?
  • Who are the people you are developing in your organisation so that these capabilities can be optimised?
  • How effectively are you communicating all the above to those involved?

You might like to answer these for yourself. They are keys to creating an environment in which people are set up for success.

More information about Doug Long and how I may be able to help you at

Leaders and Communication (2)

During the 1950's I cannot remember much emphasis being made on "how" people communicated. I'm not sure that "Public relations" even existed as a discipline back then. Then, in 1957 we had Vance Packard's 'The Hidden Persuaders', and William Sargant's 'Battle for the Mind', and, in 1964 came Marshall McLuhan's 'Understanding Media: the extensions of man' in which he introduced the phrase 'the medium is the message'. Without commenting on the content of these, it seems to me that much of the current emphasis on 'how' rather than 'what' can be dated back to works such as these. When today I look at "leaders" on television, hear them on the radio, or read of them in the written press I often find that it is really difficult to ascertain what they really believe and what, if any, is the goal they are trying to achieve other than massaging their own egos.

One of the problems that I see in relation to much leadership today is that there can be more of an emphasis on "how" things are presented rather than on "what" is presented. This often results in very shallow, populist approaches that are designed for 'sound bites' rather than for edification. People seem to want to keep themselves in forefront of mind rather than inform.

I was pondering on this over the past couple of days - Federal Parliament is back in session and "spin" will again take precedence I fear. This is a real problem as we entger an election year.

I wonder how much "spin" compensates for content in your organisation - and in your communication as a leader.

Just a thought!

More information about Doug Long at

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Leaders and communication

This week some extraordinary events in the Australian Federal Parliament highlight the fact that integrity (of which I wrote in my last blog), while essential for leadership, is nowhere near the whole picture.

The truth is that a leader is only as good as his or her communication.

My research that resulted in The Challenge of the Diamond and Leaders: diamonds or cubic zirconia? made that very clear. In my 8 facets of leadership, "integrity" is listed as #3 and, in #7 spot we find "communication". Unfortunately, as Dr Colin Rymer noted in his Doctoral Dissertation, most leadership researchers and writers seem to take "communication" as a given rather than drawing attention to its importance.

I have never met Malcolm Turnbull, the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament, but there can be no doubt as to his integrity in relation to Emissions Trading. He was concerned about this when a Government Minister and he remained true to his beliefs when he announced that the Opposition would support passage of the ETS legislation currently before Parliament. His problems relate to communication. Listen to the media and some of his colleagues apparently see him as arrogant and out of touch: a person who does not listen to them and who is more concerned with his own agenda than anything else (all of which may or may not be true - as I say, I have never met him and I have no direct knowledge about him.)

Whatever is the truth, it is very clear that he has not taken all of his followers with him and he has not obtained their total commitment.

Leadership is all about creating an environment in which people can be successful. This requires the settting of a very clear vision, objectives, strategies, and goals. It also requires that the leader ensures his or her followers have the necessary competence and commitment for the vision to become a reality. When I was running the program Leadership in Senior Management at Macquarie Graduate School of Management, I used the shorthand L=V+C //C to remind people that leadership (L) requires a vision (V) that is communicated (C) in such a way as to bring about commitment (C). Mr Turnbull failed in this regard.

Of course, this then raises the issue of "style" versus "substance" in communication. I'll deal with this next blog.

In the interim, what does your communication say about you?

More information about Douglas G Long and how I may be able to help you at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Authentic Leadership

On Saturday November 21, The Australian newspaper ran an article by General (rtd) Peter Cosgrove entitled "Leaders know dream teams have an ethos". In this Cosgrove mentioned leaders who have had 'falls from grace' and stated: 'In the main the issues behind these falls could be grouped under a lack of competence, a lack of support from those they sought to lead and a lack or failure of integrity'.

During the early 1990's I conducted extensive research on leadership in the Asia-Pacific region (see The Challenge of the Diamond and/or Leaders: diamonds or cubic zirconia) and found that integrity featured as one of the absolute key requirements for effective leadership. In my books I made the point that one of the major issues we all have with so-called "leaders" is a disconnect between what they say and what they do - ie a failure to "walk the talk" is generally seen as a lack of integrity. All too often we find one standard being espoused for followers and another standard being used by leaders.

What concerns me today is an apparent lack of integrity in many quarters. There are myriad everyday small examples, but here are a few major ones drawn from various media reports:
  • A leader of a major investment bank, in justifying his salary and bonuses despite the gfc, claims that he is "doing God's s work".
  • World leaders claim to believe in democracy yet refuse to accept or negotiate with regimes that are acknowledged to have been democratically elected because the election results are different from what was predicted or hoped - and then go on to demonise the elected parties when they object!
  • Leaders claim to believe in the sanctity of human life yet justify the deaths of civilians as 'collateral damage' in wars they have initiated.
  • Leaders decry the War Crimes committed in places like Bosnia and correctly argue that the perpetrators deserve to be tried in appropriate Courts and, if found guilty, should receive appropriate penalties yet refuse either to investigate possible War Crimes committed by their own personnel or else argue that offences such as torture are simply 'enhanced interrogation techniques' and that they are therefore exempt.

A few years ago I was coaching a leader aged in the mid 40's. As we worked through some issues, there was a deep pause, and then my coachee made the statement: "I've just realised that I've never been truly authentic in my life. I have always done what was expected of me by other people. No wonder people are saying that I lack integrity!"

Today we need authentic leaders - leaders who are absolutely true to themselves and the people they serve. Cosgrove is right: authentic leadership requires integrity.

More information about Douglas Long and how I may be able to help you at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mentoring Works

A year or so before the global financial crisis I was approached by a local executive of a multi-national company. He was in his early 40's and had been in his role for about 3 years. Colin had all the trappings of success. He earned a high salary, had a nice home on Sydney's north shore, drove a top of the range car, his children went to private schools, and the family could holiday overseas whenever they wished. He saw himself as a future CEO. His friends thought he had it made.

But Colin was worried. He was responsible for Asia-Pacific aspects of the company. This entailed constant travel in the area as well as frequent visits to Europe for meetings at Head Office - he was travelling a little over 3 weeks out of 4. He had reached the point of considering changing jobs because he felt he was losing touch with his wife and children.

We discussed his situation and alternatives. He loved his job but was asking whether the rewards were worth the impact it was having on his family life. It was a question of life priorities. Was it possible to stay where he was and still fulfil his role as a husband and father in the way that he wanted to?

We worked through these issues over succeeding months and increasingly involved both his boss and his wife in the process.

As a result of these discussions it became clear to everyone that changes were necessary in the expectations and practices of all parties. It also became clear that Colin wasn't the only executive feeling stress over these issues and that resolving them could have a positive impact on the company as well as on the individuals. It wasn't easy but by the time the gfc hit we had in place changes that helped ensure stability and profitability.

We are now working on issues that will ensure continued growth. Stress levels caused by role conflict between job and family life have gone and the executives operate as a harmonious team. Staff turnover across the company has stabilised and employee satisfaction surveys show a positive workforce.

Last week Colin was promoted and his family is about to move to Europe for a few years. They're very excited.

In the company. mentoring has become an essential component of the development process at all levels.

More information about Douglas G Long, and how I can help you, at

Monday, November 16, 2009

Responsible leadership

Recently one of my golfing partners queried whether leadership being the process of creating an environment in which everyone can be successful meant that a leader should be "all things to all people" - in other words should a leader seek to be liked rather than to achieve results.

God forbid!

Over this past weekend, the Premier of New South Wales (Australia) made some changes to his Cabinet. This was not an automatic process - in order to do this he needed to first obtain authority from the NSW Labor Party Conference as, up till then, most of the real control was exercised by various party lobby/influence groups.

I am not commenting on the political rights and wrongs of any process of any party and neither am I seeking to make any political statement. However this action illustrates a key aspect of "leadership creates an environment in which everyone can be successful". Prior to this, no matter what the Premier may have wanted to do in order to maximise the probability of success, his hands were tied by a culture that needed change. Almost immediately after the Conference had agreed to the change in practice, he sought and obtained the resignations of at least two Ministers.

While it is true that a leader must work with the people who are in his or her organisation, the leader (and the leadership overall) have a prime responsibility to achieve desired results. In so doing they will have best chance of success if they can harness the energies of every person and have them all working together towards a common goal in which they all have a vested interest. However achieving desired results can require some very tough decisions up to and inclusive of the need sometimes to remove people who are perceived to be persistent non-performers or disruptive influences from either their role or from the organisation. A leader must not avoid such issues because failure to address them will have a debilitating impact on everyone else in the organisation as well as impacting on how the organisation is perceived to its customers/clients and other stakeholders.

The critical thing for a leader is not whether or not such speople should be moved or be dismissed: it is why it is done and how it is done. The implementation of such actions by pretext and/or "constructive dismissal" to justify one's own prejudices or discomfort at being held accountable or being challenged by alternative opinions is never warranted.

There are organisations whose current CEOs have career backgrounds that include working for someone who would not tolerate dissent or discussion that challenged his opinions - he was the "my mind's made up: don't confuse me with the facts" sort of person. These CEOs have been strongly influenced by this experience and they seem to operate in the same way. My observation is that such organisations experience high staff turnover (especially at senior levels) and the general feeling of people is that their CEO is manipulative and ineffective. There is a strong feeling that they mistake bullying and power for leadership.

Mentoring and coaching can help leaders become more effective and can facilitate their growth to effective people who genuinely create environments in which success is normal rather than being a random variable.

Fortunately here are a number of very good mentors and coaches available from a wide variety of sources. All you have to do is to contact them for an initial discussion.

More information about Douglas G Long at

Friday, November 13, 2009

Re-creating the organisation

Back in September 2007 The McKinsey Quarterly ran an article entitled "Anatomy of a healthy corporation." It argued that there were 5 key characteristics - resilience, execution, alignment, renewal, and complementarity. Since then, of course, we have had the global financial crisis. While all these are essential, I believe that there are times when they have a hierarchical relationship with certain characteristics being more important than others.

Resilience was clearly the key for the past couple of years. Corporations and other organisations that have survived the gfc to this point without relying on government bailouts or guarantees have certainly shown resilience. These organisations have battled through by making both strategic and tactical changes depending on what their environment was doing. I expect that most of these will now be able to move forward. I'm not so convinced about those that received government handouts and/or guarantees - from what I can see it is still "business as usual" for many of these (particularly in the financial sector) and I see no real indication that necessary changes have been made. Sadly this may mean that yesterday's mistakes may well occur again.

Today I believe that the key characteristic is renewal.

A key aspect of renewal is the ability to harness the energies of everyone in the organisation so that ideas can be generated and change can occur with the support of everyone involved. This requires leadership - but not the sort of leadership that is generally promulgated by the populist press. It needs true leadership - that which creates and sustains an environment for success (individual and organisational) for everyone involved. The starting point for that is a renewed vision of what the organisation can and should be.

What renewal is needed in your organisation?

What are you doing about it?

More information about Douglas Long at

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mentoring: a tool for increased effectiveness

About 15 years ago I received a call from the Managing Director of a major Australian mining company. He was a very experienced CEO with a very high reputation but a person I had never met. He told me that he had heard about me from another CEO and that he was looking for a person with whom he could share his thoughts and "fly a kite" without any fear that what was said could end up in the media or be leaked to anyone else. We agreed to meet with a view to me providing him with mentoring.

At that meeting I asked him what he was looking for in a mentor. His reply was succinct and to the point:
  1. knowledge and experience in leadership and related issues
  2. someone who would stretch his thinking
  3. absolute confidentiality
  4. someone who was prepared to think "outside the box" - especially outside of mining!
  5. not a "yes man"
  6. total honesty - if I thought he was speaking bovine excrement, tell him!
  7. regular face-to-face meetings plus regular scheduled telephone contact
  8. unlimited access by phone or meeting when an urgent issue arose and relating to which he wanted outside opinion

We agreed to give it a try and my work as a mentor had suddenly started! Today that same man is a director of several public companies and Chairman of at least one. I still get phone calls from time to time.

These days "mentoring" has become a buzz word and there are myriad mentoring services available - some even in unexpected arenas such as the family (see, for example, which provides mentoring to parents of new born babies) - because the concept has proved itself as an extremely valuable aid in helping people learn, grow, and become more effective.

So what is mentoring?

I like the definition given by Bozeman Feeny in 2007: "mentoring is a process for transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protege)."

Back in the 1980's a writer named Christopher Meyer said: "a leader uses only one tool: him or herself. Like any other tool, the more we know the tool's potential and limitations, the more effectively we can use it. Leadership is therefore dependent on self-knowledge and awareness."

Do you constantly seek to know more about your potential and limitations? As Meyer says, in the long-term, you as a person are really the only tool you have.

Mentoring can help you become a better leader.

More information about Douglas Long at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mentoring For Re-creation

Harry Lubansky of Melbourne who sent me this photo taken a few months after Victoria's terrible bush fires last year, makes the point that sometimes Australian bush doesn't regenerate - the fire is so intense that the trees are totally destroyed. In these cases nothing can be done and regeneration is not possible. Those people I knew who committed suicide (blog: The Re-Creating Organisation) obviously felt that the devastation they had experienced made it impossible to go on - nothing short of a total tragedy for everyone involved including friends.
I have been working for several years with some of the CEO's and executives I mentor. Prior to the GFC our discussions centred on normal leadership issues relating to healthy organisations operating in a positive environment. As the GFC loomed and then hit, our discussions turned to understanding how these events would affect operations; to strategies for survival with minimum negative impact on all stakeholders; to "holding the line"; to moving forward. Like the bush that is now regenerating, these were healthy organisations with CEO's who knew they needed support and were prepared to use it.
In my experience, mentoring can help in the re-creation process only when those being mentored are willing to be totally open about the issues they are facing and, simultaneously, they have a belief that these issues can be dealt with. I believe it was John Saunders, founder of The Terrace Tower Group, who used to say: "He who has life has hope. He who has hope has everything."
Is re-creation needed where you are? What issues are you facing - both personally and in your organisation? Do you believe that these can be dealt with? What help are you getting as you seek to deal with them?
More information about Douglas Long at

Monday, November 2, 2009

Re-creating leaders and organisations - not a "phoenix"

A few weeks ago we lost our older and much loved Belgian Shepherd to cancer. It was the second time cancer has hit our family or pets. In talking with friends, virtually everyone I know has been affected by cancer in a family member or a pet or, like us, in both.

I am not an oncologist and I have no real knowledge of oncology but, from a recent TV documentary, I understand that at least some cancer cells are normal body cells that refuse to die when they should. Instead of allowing natural events to take their course, these are cells that become feral and so create problems.

Some people have asked me whether a re-created organisation is the same as a phoenix organisation. The answer is a resounding "NO!"

A phoenix organisation, at least in Australia, is one in which the owners have run the organisation in such a way that it eventually fails and, while the owners do very nicely, the organisation's creditors lose out totally. In the meantime the owners "laugh all the way to the bank". Once the washing up is completed, the owners start a new business in the same industry - very often from the same premises - and repeat the cycle. Only the name is different. To my mind this phoenix approach is malignant and akin to the cells that create cancer.

A re-created organisation is totally different.

Outside my window is a magnificent bougainvillea. Now, in the spring, it is bursting with colour but only a few weeks ago it was a barren cluster of grey-brown twigs and branches. it had been alive all winter but had nothing to show for any effort the plant may have been making - it was in survival mode.

This provides a metaphor for the re-created organisation.

A re-created organisation is a basically healthy organisation that needs to rethink what it is doing and how it does it. It is an organisation that has, in effect, been dormant for some time - lots of effort but no results - and is now seeking a new way forward.

What I love most about re-creating leaders and organisations is that I can bring them out of winter and into spring.

More information about Douglas Long at

Friday, October 30, 2009

Socially Responsible Leadership

As I write this there are 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers stranded off the coast of Indonesia on an Australian Customs vessel. Both the Government and the Opposition in Australia are seeking political mileage by "being tough" on those who seek to jump the immigration and refugee queue. Once again blame is foisted upon the refugees rather than on the events and leadership which made them flee their homeland.

The media this week report that interest rates in Australia are almost certain to rise when the Reserve Bank meets next week. The only question relates to the extent of the rise and little is said about how financial institutions will use this to enhance profits. In the same media we learn that housing prices are again rising rapidly and making the dream of owning your own home even more difficult for many people. No-one is prepared to take responsibility for increasing the pressure on, primarily, low income earners and first home buyers.

Last week we learned that the global financial crisis had created a loss of some $160 million to the Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney - apparently the church invested using margin loans - and as a result they will need to cut back on help it gives to people. The Archbishop commented that perhaps God was trying to tell the church something but he fell short of accepting blame for the loss.

Three social issues.

Common to all of them is that leaders are caught up in events over which they now have little or no control. Also common to all of them is an apparent reluctance (if not refusal) of leaders to accept any responsibility or liability even though they could have had significant influence at very early stages.

There are three aspects to leadership - the intent, the strategy, and the execution.

Ideally the intent of leadership ought to be to create an environment in which every person can be successful - ie can lead a productive life free of such issues as starvation, violence, and discrimination. The specifics of strategy and execution - ie 'how' this is done together with the attitudes and behaviours of the leaders - will always be both culturally and organisationally specific. But the intent should remain constant because such an intent makes it possible to be economically responsible simultaneously with being socially responsible - its not an 'either/or'.

It seems to me that unfortunately many of those in politics, business, and religious groups seem to have lost sight of this.

More information about Douglas Long at

Monday, October 26, 2009

The re-creating organisation

One of the things I love about the Australian bush is its ability to regenerate.

We can have the most devastating bush fires yet, come the next significant rain, buds start emerging from the blackened stumps and, within a very short time, the bush is back. I thought about this today as I watched rain fall in Sydney.

If the pundits are to be believed, then we appear to be emerging from the global financial crisis that erupted a year or so back. Since the GFC I have watched people lose their businesses, their jobs, their homes and, in some cases, their families. I know two instances of suicides because of an inability to cope with the financial and social impact of what had happened.

Organisations that depend on donations for significant portions of their funding have also been hard hit – sure we have found money for special appeals like last year’s bush fires in Victoria, but overall funding has, I believe, been well down on what is needed.

If the pundits are right, the time is now ripe for re-creation.

Back in the Fourth Quarter 2008 I wrote about the need to simultaneously plan for the future and deal with the financial problems being faced by many organisations and people. The time may now be right to dust off those plans and consider how they may be implemented. If the economy is on the mend, we are going to need re-created organisations in order to move forward.

Of course, for a re-created organisation to be successful, there is an urgent need for re-created leaders as well.

More information about Douglas Long at

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You can have your cake and eat it!

It is possible to get significant returns to the bottom line while maintaining employee morale. It is possible to develop a culture in which people want to help the organisation grow and be a profitable, highly successful operation in which desired returns to shareholders and good corporate citizenship go hand in hand.

Unfortunately, over the years we have been seduced into thinking that the only thing that really matters is bottom line results achieved in the shortest possible period. The impact of this can sometimes be a little like the episode of “Yes Minister” or “Yes Prime Minister” in which the most effective hospital was the one which never took in patients – it wasn’t losing money.

All too often there is an “either/or” approach to change. Either you concentrate on the bottom line or you concentrate on the people. Alternatively there is a “flip-flop” approach. First you concentrate on the bottom line, then you concentrate on people, then you concentrate on the bottom line, etc. Such approaches are the reason why some 70% of changes fail.

The solution is simply one of leaders developing leadership cultures in their organisations and using this to harness the energies of everyone involved so that financial results can be achieved in both the short and long term.

More information about Douglas Long at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What sort of model is the leader?

A month or so back I was invited to the annual general meeting of an organisation involved in community service work. During the course of the meeting the chairman stood up and harangued the members about their lack of involvement in providing various services. He accused the majority of members of inadequate commitment to the cause and, in effect, told them that they needed to change their ways.

Later I discussed this with the person who had invited me there. I was told that the very people who were being accused of lack of commitment were those who provided most of the money for the organisation to operate. Further, it was explained to me, a key factor in their doing very little else than provide money was the fact that the chairman had managed to alienate most of the members by his dictatorial behaviour. The feeling was that the chairman was seeking only those things that made him look good - he was not really interested in the organisation. Later I discovered that, not surprisingly, the rest of the leadership team exhibited similar behaviours - or they left for a new organisation.

The organisation in question has a leadership problem.

Traditionally the leader has been the one who is at the forefront of those being led. He or she is the one who knows where to go then sets the pace. The leader is the one who is seen first and after whom everyone else follows.

We see this in many areas. In business we describe those who are in top management as “business leaders”. We talk of those who are in front of the competitors as being “market leaders”. We talk of our politicians as being “national leaders”. In military and paramilitary organisations we speak of officers as being “leaders”. In almost every facet of life it is those who are in controlling positions who are referred to as “leaders” - the leader is invariably seen as being in the role of “master”

But is this necessarily leadership? And, if it is leadership, is it the sort of leadership that is appropriate today?

My research indicates that today the world is looking for leaders who:
* ensure they don't alienate their people no matter where in the organisation they may be - not just their direct reports
* are authoritative without being authoritarian
* have vision - know who they are and where they are going
* can communicate this vision to everyone who will listen
* are trustworthy and have personal integrity
* practice what they preach
* respect other people and their views rather than simply imposing the leader’s views on all around
* make it possible for others to achieve results

It is this sort of leadership that we need in all areas of society today - especially as we recover from the global financial crisis.

What are the leaders, and what is the leadership, like in your organisation?

More information about Douglas Long at

Friday, October 16, 2009

Leaders develop people

When first I arrived in Australia, I was unsure about where to settle so I drove taxis in Melbourne for about a year. Very educational - I learned a lot about people.

One Friday evening I had a fare from Tullamarine Airport to the Dandenong Ranges – a “good fare”. On the way the passenger and I got talking. He was CEO of a company in Sydney during the week and returned home to Melbourne for weekends. He was looking to fill a vacancy and, after quizzing me about myself, the trip turned into a recruitment interview – it turned out that my background was perfectly suited to meet his needs. Two days later, on Monday morning, I commenced working with him.

Peter was a leader.

Like every other good leader I have observed or with whom I have been associated, Peter was genuinely interested in other people and in seeing them grow. Where appropriate and possible he sought to help facilitate that growth. It was as a direct result of his influence that, a few years later, I returned to university, obtained my PhD and moved on.

It’s now more than 30 years since Peter got into my cab and set in train a process that changed my life. I lost contact with him some time ago as we both moved around the world, yet his influence and my gratitude have remained.

Think of the people who have had a very real and positive influence on your life.

Who are they?

When did it happen?

What did they do that made such an influence?

What sort of an influence are you having on those around you – not only those with whom you have a formal leadership role – but on everyone – perhaps even a taxi driver?

More information about Douglas Long at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Re-creating leaders – the influence of environment

In 1896 an English moth enthusiast, James W Tutt, published a book entitled “British Moths”. In this he explained how technology had created changes in the environment and the impact this had on local moths. Tutt’s conclusion was that the environment in which we operate influences both the rate and the degree of evolutionary change.

My observations of and in organisations for more than 40 years suggests that the same is true of leaders and organisations.

I have seen leaders who were tremendously successful in one environment or organisation become total failures when they moved to another – and I have seen the reverse. I have seen organisations that were tremendously successful in one environment suffer serious decline when they have sought to establish themselves in another location – and I have seen the reverse.

Sometimes we seem to forget that leadership is both culturally and task specific. In other words, for example, being a leader in a commercial organisation demands some different competencies from being a leader as a parent or in a community-based organisation. And being a leader in a small organisation requires some different competencies from being a leader in a large organisation.

What are the environments in which you function as a leader?

In what way are these different from your previous leadership environments?

In what way are these different from the environments in which you want to lead?

What changes have you had to make in order to be successful today?

What changes will you need to make in order to be successful tomorrow?

How are you going to make these changes?

How are you going to help others in their process of re-creation?

More information about Douglas Long at

Friday, October 9, 2009

Brave new world?

The world changes. According to news reports today, apparently Australia is now ahead of the USA as a world financial centre and second only to the UK.

This presents new challenges for leaders. The leadership that is effective today may well be ineffective tomorrow – as I heard a speaker say at a conference several years ago, “the very things that made me successful today are those things that will stop me being successful tomorrow”. The same is true for organisations.

So what can be done to re-create leaders and organisations for an environment in which growth and financial strength may be key components?

1. Do some new scenario planning with particular emphasis on “best case” and “worst case” scenarios. How do your existing strategies fit with these options?
2. Carefully examine your goals and objectives to ensure they are suitable for the emergent situation and adapt them if necessary
3. Check for any blockages that may impact negatively on your moving forward and devise strategies and tactics for removing these if possible or, if not, for circumventing them
4. Ensure that everyone involved in helping you achieve the organisation’s goals has the necessary competence and commitment for their work – provide training and assistance if required. Remember that mentoring and coaching can be of real benefit here.
5. As appears necessary, be prepared to seek out and use outside help and facilitation in moving forward

More information about Douglas Long at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is prestige that important?

Today, October 6, 2009, Mr John Howard, past Prime Minister of Australia, is reported as telling the media that Australia must commit more troops to the war in Afghanistan. His rationale is that this is to avoid handing victory to the Taliban, a scenario he says would deal an "enormous blow" to American prestige.

Mr Howard is totally entitled to his views. I suspect that here, as he has done on many occasions in the past, he is reflecting what significant numbers of people feel in Australia, the USA, and in other parts of the western world.

Mr Howard may or may not be right. The war in Afghanistan may or may not be winnable. That is an argument for another time and place. [Although, as an aside, pulling out of Vietnam some 30 years ago turned out to not have any adverse impact on the USA’s prestige in the medium to long term.]

What is pertinent, however, is the underlying belief that prestige is more important than anything else.

Many leaders continue with approaches far beyond their “use by” date because they are unable to admit they made a mistake. This happens in parents’ dealings with children; with teachers’ dealings with students; with managers’ dealings with reports’; with executives and organisational strategies; with governments and their programs, etc. As long as this continues, re-creation of the leader and his or her organisation is impossible – and the seeds for ultimate demise are sown.

As I said in Leaders: diamonds or cubic zirconia one mark of a good leader is the ability and willingness to put doing the right thing ahead of prestige – to know when you’ve made a mistake; to apologise for it, deal with the impact of the mistake – correcting things if possible – and then move on.

Good leaders frequently ask the question “what am I doing that is fast approaching, or has reached, its “use by” date?” If they are unsure of the answer, they seek honest feedback from people they can trust to tell them the truth. Then they make the necessary changes – necessary re-creation can start.

More information about Douglas Long at

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The power, and the glory - but not leadership

In 1938 Lord Bertram Russell published his work on Power (Unwin Books).

In this he says “… One of the chief emotional differences [between man and other animals] is that some human desires, unlike those of animals, are essentially boundless and incapable of complete satisfaction. … Of the infinite desires of man, the chief are the desires for power and glory. These are not identical, though closely allied. … the easiest way to obtain glory is to obtain power. .. The desire for glory, therefore, prompts, in the main, the same actions as are prompted by the desire for power, and the two motives may, for most practical purposes, be regarded as one.” (pp7-9)

Russell goes on to say (p20) “… the leader is hardly likely to be successful unless he enjoys his power over his followers. He will therefore be led to a preference for the kind of situation, and the kind of mob, that makes his success easy. … The kind of mob that the [he] will desire is one more given to emotion than to reflection, one filled with fears and consequent hatreds, one impatient of slow and gradual methods, and at once exasperated and hopeful.”

Today, all too often, we see power and the seeking of glory mistaken for leadership.

Distributed and distributive leadership

Right now it seems to me that, in many cases, “the inmates are running the asylum” when we look at world leadership.

And we are to blame. We have the power of electing or not electing individuals—instead we vote for parties regardless of who the best person might be. And the problem with political parties of every flavour is that their primary ambition is to obtain and retain power—and they will do anything at all to realise these ends. The Boards of companies are not all that much different.

Distributed and distributive leadership are all about the difference between “leadership” and “the work of the leader”. It recognizes that everyone has a leadership responsibility and also that everyone has leadership ability. The critical thing is to learn how to unleash the leadership potential in every person and to harness their leadership ability towards positive ends.
It seems to me that understanding and applying the concepts of distributed and distributive leadership is a strategy that will go a long way to bringing vision into action.

Ordinary people like you and me can make a difference. We can stop the rot that eats like a cancer into the soul of countries and organisations - the rot that lies, distorts, obfuscates, and then does what it likes in the guise of protection of our shareholder/citizen (you choose) interests while, in actuality pursuing its own ends and furthering its self interest.

The starting point is a vision and clear strategic orientation. This then requires clear goals and objectives together with the will to attain these. Of course, it also means taking seriously the elections of governments and boards.

More information about Douglas Long at

Leadership or “leaders leading”?

I believe leadership is all about creating an environment in which people can achieve desired results – in other words, consciously setting people up to be successful rather than having success as a random variable

Leadership is different from the activity of “a leader leading” – ie, leadership is a far more broad concept than particular behaviours, habits, or attitudes: leadership is a shared activity involving every person whether or not he or she is designated as a leader in the organisation

I focus on organisational leadership (an organisation may be any size from 2 people upwards) that considers the desired end state of the organisation in a defined period (ie the vision for, say, 10 years hence) and the variables that will impact on whether or not that vision becomes a reality. Accordingly I look at how specific local characteristics and cultures can be harnessed to work in harmony with both the existing and desired cultures of the organisations with which we are working.

The issue of how leaders engage with followers is critical. Leaders need to explore and develop their own behaviours in this regard. If we want to ensure strong on-going organisations of any sort, we need to ensure that both leaders and overall leadership are developed in and for all organisations—and that requires engagement by current leaders of everyone in their organisations.

More information about Douglas G Long is available at

Leadership Development

Developing tomorrow’s leaders along with developing tomorrow’s leadership for all organisations (including societies) should be a high priority. The world today with its bigotry, conflict, inequality, and failure to care properly for all in need is not the world I want for my grandchildren.

We need leaders who show unconditional respect for all people and who will transform society in all its aspects.

So how can any organisation go about developing their overall leadership? Some approaches that have been proven to work are:
Replace dated power structures
Help staff build strong networks
Recruit young leaders to work with you
Be a mentor—listen to people for their needs rather than your own—show unconditional respect
Be a good role model (in relation to work hours particularly)
Pay reasonable salaries and benefits
Engage in succession planning
Recognise and celebrate generational differences between current CEO’s and emergent CEO’s.
Hire from outside your comfort zone

These are all things that any organisation can do without requiring outside assistance. Of course assistance, if desired, can be provided from a variety of sources and two forms of assistance that can have big payoffs are mentoring and coaching.

More information about Douglas G Long is available at

Leaders question

Good leaders question the advice they are given. They want to ensure that the actions they initiate are based on the very best and most accurate information available. They are very suspicious when advice seems to mirror their own thoughts too closely.

Yet what we still find in politics and business is that decision makers today prefer advice that supports their own opinions rather than challenging them. The result is “group think” with all its attendant problems—”Bay of Pigs” comes to mind although that was far less disastrous that George Bush’s Iraq adventure.

As followers we must question our leaders. As leaders we must question both our own preconceptions and prejudices as well as all advice we receive. It is only when there is a strong culture of questioning to the end of getting as close to the truth as possible that we get strong organisations and good leadership.

More information about Douglas G Long is available at

Its the economy - perhaps

Margaret Thatcher, when she was Prime Minister of the UK famously said “there is no such thing as society” and it appears that this is the emphasis that emerged at least in the USA and Australia during the late 20th century. We are constantly reminded that “the economy” is central to our existence.

Despite Maggie Thatcher, the truth is that society is important to most people. People want to spend time with their friends and families. People want to have time to relax.

The economy is important—but it should be a means to an end—not the end in itself. As the Bible says: “what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul”.

Leadership should be inclusive rather than exclusive. This means that each person is important—those killed as “collateral damage” in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places are just as important as our “leaders” most vociferous supporters in their home countries. We need leaders who support society—not just economics.

More information about Douglas G Long is available at

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It can be argued that over the centuries— to the end of the 20th century—society has moved from tribal to feudal to managerial. The 21st Century has seen the managerial mindset come crashing down. We may have talked about leadership and teams in the later 20th century but our organisational and societal structures remained largely the same as they were 30 years before—hierarchical power structures in which the few controlled the many.

Today it is clear that things must change. The global financial crisis was caused by people who were interested primarily in themselves—and they continue to oppose anything that might threaten their vested interests in power and money. Yet the continual move to “outsourcing” or “contract labour” in which one person might actually work for several organisations simultaneously or, serially, may have 30 or more “employers” over their working life, makes it clear that the old order, if not actually dead, is certainly terminal.

This is the age of the virtual organisation. This is the age in which young people are saying “if the job doesn’t engage me, I’ll go elsewhere”; “if the boss tries to get ‘heavy’, I’ll suggest ‘sex and travel’ and then move on.” There is a rebellion against power structures and the immediate availability of knowledge and data by such media as the internet means that even the last resort of power—information– is less available to those in authority than ever before.

People are demanding to be treated as individuals; to be treated with respect. The organisations that fail to recognise this—be they educational, government, business, religious, social, or whatever—are doomed to extinction.

The 21st century requires leadership—and leadership requires behaviours that are securely based on the foundation of unconditional respect.

There are many who will oppose this shift. We will see from these increasingly toxic behaviour that resorts to some form of fundamentalism—a demand that people submit to a supreme authority and do whatever is demanded in order to placate that authority. And we will see this eventually destroy itself.

There are others who will embrace the new world order. These are the ones who have a future. These are the ones who will make the future. These are the ones who will bequeath to their children and grandchildren a better world.

More information about Douglas Long at
About a week ago I was talking with a senior executive in relation to possible legal action being taken against one of their managers. The response amazed me. “Oh no,” she told me, “an apology isn’t on the cards.” There was a clear implication that for the manager to apologise would mean a loss of face and might undermine her authority.

One key sign of unconditional respect is the willingness to apologise.

A Sydney author, Anne Miles, (Email: ) has recently written a book entitled “Rules of Acceptable Behaviour”. In this she talks of “toxic” behaviour rather than abusive behaviour because she is trying to make the point that much of what we do has, either wittingly or unwittingly, a toxic effect on those with whom we interact. She sets out patterns of behaviour that we can use in order to avoid toxic behaviour.

Unconditional respect and toxic behaviour are mutually incompatible. A person exhibiting toxic behaviour is totally lacking in unconditional respect. A person exhibiting unconditional respect cannot behave in a toxic manner.

The Executive who I was helping work through the issue of possible legal action against one of her managers, was more concerned with what she considered to be good order and authority—the organisational hierarchy and power structure—than she was in providing an apology as part of the process of removing toxic waste.

As is well known, the problem with toxic material is the long term effects that sometimes only become apparent years after the toxic event occurred—the current problems relating to asbestos are but one example. I believe that toxic behaviour is no different.

As leaders we need to be aware of what we are doing and the possible impact this might have on our followers at some undefined future time. There is no excuse for toxic behaviour—that it may be unintended is totally immaterial.

More information about Douglas Long at

Tomorrow's leaders will act differently

I am old enough to remember when we had to use punch cards in order to use a computer. (And as a student I remember the trauma associated with dropping a pile of punch cards on the way to the card reading machine!) On these cards there was the injunction “Do not spike, bend, fold or mutilate”. The message was that every card was unique—it had its own particular message encoded upon it and anything that might affect this coding would result in error messages and computing problems.

It seems to me that we need to hear that message again when it comes to dealing with people.

A negative mark of recent years is that we have moved from living in societies to living in economies. In other words, we have moved from living in a world where relationships are important to a world where what happens to and with people is considered secondary to the economic factors surrounding the organization, area, or country.

In a society where the influx of information and the speed of change is increasing at almost an exponential rate, the need for people to receive consideration as individuals in their own right is more important than ever before. Unfortunately, for too many of them, they are grouped in socio-economic categories—and we wonder why we have problems.

Tomorrow’s organisations will need different leaders.

More information about Douglas Long on

Leadership and the Global Financial Crisis

A year ago the world was plunged into turmoil when the financial markets collapsed. There was widespread clamour for reforms that would prevent such a catastrophe being repeated.

A year on, what has changed.

Very little.

Money trumps morality. Greed trumps equity. The “Gordon Gecko’s” of the world continue to practice their mantra of “greed is good”.

Many managers and leaders are appalled at what has happened. They worry about the loss in shareholder wealth. They seek to redress the wrongs seen when companies fail to perform yet executives receive huge bonuses. Yet they are caught up in the maelstrom and wonder how they can lead in tomorrow’s world – a world in which pressure from shareholder action groups and other interested parties will mean many of these excesses are curbed.

There is a need for re-creation for leaders and organisations.

With the benefit of more than 40 years’ hindsight, I know that these leaders can be re-created. And I know, too, that re-created leaders can re-create their organisations so that they do provide increasing shareholder wealth not only this year but into the future.

These are the leaders and the organisations that have a future. These are the ones in which it is worth investing.

More information about Douglas Long at