The 3 leadership qualities I value and want to develop in myself.

The other day I read a fantastic post by colleague Kelly Doonan “Eight Steps to Good Leadership” It is well worth a read, so if you haven’t read it, please take some time now or after this post to check it out.
After reading it I was inspired to write this post as I haven’t blogged for a while, although I have many “draft posts” sat in here waiting to be finished…
Recently I was asked by colleagues to do a 10-minute talk/presentation on “Leadership” in the Chief Executives office as part of a set of recent Leadership Events in the council.
So my usual approach was to think about what leadership really means to me, what I thought the leadership challenges are and considered my personal experiences and observations, in particular, those people that have inspired and challenged me over the years and still do.
I made some detailed notes, which is unusual for me but given that I only had 10 minutes I thought I better try and stick to time so wanted to ensure I focused myself. This post has essentially been created using the notes for that session with some post edits as I pretty much ignored my notes when presenting, even though I held on to them during the entire presentation – I believe I stuck to time though 🙂
The reason for not sticking to the notes was that the two previous speakers who were great, made me think about how things feel and what it means to talk about those things more openly…this basically led me to change the first half of the talk and draw upon my thinking in a previous blog post “Love of Fear – Which one rules you”  I felt that it would better suit the flow of the whole session. I was happy to adapt it and actually felt more comfortable simply speaking from the heart as opposed to reading from a script.
A part of the design of my talk I started to think about what problems I saw, what caused those problems and how I thought particular leadership qualities could rebalance or directly address those problems. Reflecting on my experiences, observations and understanding over the years, I came up with the following:
  • increasingly isolation of people and organisations
  • a lack of clarity and understanding as to why public services exist
  • an acceptance or even tolerance that things are the way they are and can’t or even won’t change.
So I distilled three leadership qualities that I believe are either missing, in short supply and/or will provide solid foundations for the future. The qualities are clearly for everyone and anyone but I firmly believe that these are essential for people in legitimate leadership positions right now across all public services and wider. I also want to further develop these qualities in myself.
In thinking about the session I was pondering how these problems came about, how they are allowed to continue existing and I started to think about the blind spots that the sector has around leadership capability. So I decided to call my session “Why I think public sector leaders are undermining the opportunity for improving the sector – and they don’t even know it?
The 3 Leadership Qualities
Firstly – Curiosity – the desire and drive to discover and explore the deeper meaning and purpose of all things. To know and sense that there is always more to understand, more to learn and unlearn about ourselves and the world around us. That what we know today will be challenged by what we learn tomorrow and to be comfortable with uncertainty.
Secondly – Compassion – developing a meaningful connection to all things – to truly understand the lived experiences and lives of others and all living things and to be purposefully driven by that connection to take action – selflessly and for the benefit of others not individual gain. In doing so leading by example, not through rhetoric.
Thirdly – Courage – to find and connect to the inner strength in us all and to step forward and lead when everyone around us is simply stuck in the comfort of the status quo. To be authentic and to choose our own destiny and path in life and to acknowledge our responsibility to future generations.
I believe that these three qualities can reduce the isolation, help us find meaning and purpose and challenge our assumptions that things can improve
The event was filmed so I have included the link to the video below.

6 thoughts on “The 3 leadership qualities I value and want to develop in myself.

    1. Thanks for sharing Dyfrig. I like that post a lot. The challenge for everyone else looking in will be to avoid the temptation of thinking that they can easily copy the way Ricoh works and therefore achieve a similar culture. The real opportunity is that people look inwards to themselves and learn about where the love comes from, to connect to that and to allow it to grow. At the same time, you’d need to understand where the fear comes from to understand what triggers that and try to mitigate that or go through a process of compassion and acceptance around any suffering that might exist as a result.

      What I really like is the increasing willingness for people to start talking about all these things, even though the article you shared is 4 years old now…there is so much we collectively need to do to find the maturity to speak openly about love and fear and to find a path through it so we can find balance.


      1. I completely agree Carl. The post I wrote this morning was reflecting on John Seddon’s book on “The Whitehall Effect” and how organisations take on good practice. Basically looking at the study phase and how this relates to adapting approaches in complex environments. I was looking at another of Chris’ posts on the Gemba Mat ( when I was reminded of this one and how it relates to love. My upcoming post looks at Seddon’s reflections on the Toyota Production System and why we must study and examine the system before taking action. Adopting any practice wholesale without reflecting on system conditions won’t work. We’ve got boatloads of blogs to post at the moment so it might be a while, but I’ll send it your way when it finally goes live.


  1. Hello dear friend!

    I like this post – thank you for sharing. I really resonate with your three values.

    Great leaders really do create clarity. Even if they are malevolent leaders, the successfully malevolent ones (!) do it by having a very clear purpose.

    I like to think of this as answering the WHY? question. Great leaders bring utterly clarity by empowering people with an answer.

    The most profound leadership book I read, Gung Ho! (by Ken Blanchard of One Minute Manager fame), says the same thing. He says unless people know what is a “win” or a “goal”, then you can’t lead successfully.

    When I am in a team or working with a client, it is a great joy when the leader / buyer / project owner knows what the win is, and clearly communicates it. Often I find that insecure leaders are scared to bring clarity, but it is actually what us team members and followers are crying out for!

    This leads to your point of courage. It does take a good dose of it to say “this is what we’re doing!”

    Really loving commenting on your blog – feels like old times 🙂


    1. Thank you for your comments, Scott. I’ve been on such a deep personal learning journey recently that I am no longer the same person as I was last year…I truly see the world in a different way and it is great to hear people’s thoughts, reflections and views as these enrich my experiences too.


Leave a comment or share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.