Reading for Leading #2: Going long

Going long

Next time you’re frustrated you can’t explore something in more detail, “go long”.
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How many times in a given day or week do you and your team members think “I wish I could dive a little deeper into this topic, problem or new tool – but I just don’t have time right now.”?

Next time that happens, pick up a post-it note or scrap of paper, note down the item and then put it away somewhere. Perhaps stick the post-its onto a plain sheet of paper in the corner of your office, or post the scraps of paper into an empty tissue box on your desk – whatever works for you. You can do this electronically too, if you prefer – maybe using a Trello board and making cards for each new item that crops up. But no browsing when you post the new items! Simply file and forget.

Next, block out 90 mins in your calendar at some point within the next month. When that time arrives, empty out the box, pull down the paper covered in post-its or re-open the Trello board and pick something that calls you. Then spend the 90 mins exploring it.

You can either do this alone or as a team exercise. How does this work out?

Source of inspiration: Janice Marturano’s “Finding the space to lead”

Reading for Leading #1: Illuminate the marginalia

Illuminate the marginalia

What’s going on in your marginalia of your meeting? Are you fighting demons or playing pranks?
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Next time you’re sat in a meeting and find yourself disengaging from the conversation, instead of reaching for your phone, your inbox or a daydream, try to determine what the script and accompanying director’s notes are for your character at this point.

Are you silently having a different conversation to the one that’s actually taking place in the room? Maybe you’re re-enacting last month’s meeting which left you feeling road-blocked. Is there something going unsaid that maybe needs for you to suggest a one-to-one check in with someone in the room – or even for you to be brave and speak out while everyone is still in it?

Taking time to examine the marginalia around the edges of your current script could tell you a lot about why this particular scene isn’t working out for you today – and what you can do to address it.


Source of inspiration: Mental models chapter of “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge.



Introducing “Reading for Leading” – Monday morning pithy prompts

Want to be a less robotic, more connected leader? Image credit:

Recently I’ve been thinking about the balance between consumption and creation or synthesis. And while I’ve been enjoying translating some of my thoughts into blog posts once again, there have been many more ideas shared at events, and in books, papers and podcasts than I’m ever going to convert into full-length posts.

However, exploring ideas doesn’t always have to go long form!

Two examples: Seth Godin’s daily blog posts are one of my favourite reads – little nuggets of marketing and management inspiration, they’re often a good prompt to stop and rethink your project work. Likewise, I’ve enjoyed exploring Zen koans over the years – short pithy phrases that you reflect on for a period of time in order to distill their wisdom for yourself.

And so I’m going to combine bits of both to create a new series of short posts every Monday morning – “reading for leading“. Each post will share a question, a tip, a definition or something else to ponder as you start your week. I hope you enjoy these small, straight doses of inspiration on the topic of modern leadership.