A to Z of Inspirational People – Part 2

A to Z Inspirational People - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of this A to Z of Inspirational People. People inspire me in so many different ways; whether that be through significant breakthroughs in technology, advancement in science, progression of thought or overcoming adversity to succeed. Hopefully this A to Z series will make you think about who inspires you and why.

If you missed Part 1, including; Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Charles Darwin, David Attenborough and Florence Nightingale,  please click here.

G

guy-kawasaki-apeGuy Kawasaki

As one of the Apple employees responsible for marketing the Macintosh computer in 1984, Kawasaki had a first-hand experience with the value of getting in on the ground floor of new ideas. Soon he would bring his evangelism for the Apple brand to the high-tech business world. He is the co-founder of Alltop.com, “an online magazine rack,” and Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. A writer, speaker, and consultant, Kawasaki has also become a high-tech marketing guru. He has authored numerous books including: Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, The Macintosh Way and Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions – my personal favourite.

His latest book is APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book.

Kawasaki is a social media giant and has inspired me to engage, listen and grow my network, sharing insight and good news. He’s one of the reasons I started Think Oak! and started writing my first book.

“Do not write to impress others. Authors who write to impress people have difficulty remaining true to themselves. A better path is to write what pleases you and pray that there are others like you. Your first and most important reader is you. If you write a book that pleases you, at least you know one person will like it.”
― Guy Kawasaki

H

henry-ford-1919-smallHenry Ford

Henry Ford is a name that is respected all around the world. He is known for many reasons but most commonly for his founding of the Ford Motor Company in 1903. For over 100 years Ford Motor Company has been one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world. The impact that Ford had on the car industry was more than significant. But the car industry is not the only industry that Ford’s innovative thinking touched. His ideas for the assembly line and mass production of inexpensive goods had an effect on a plethora of production industries around the world. His accomplishments should be considered incredible by anyone’s standards.

On top of his obvious contributions to the car industry, Henry Ford helped to make huge advances in engineering of wood products, such as particle / chip board, helped to develop corn as a fuel source, such as ethanol, and helped develop potential uses for cotton. Ford also paved the way for millions of people to grill their food by being an instrumental in developing charcoal briquettes, under the brand Kingsford. On top of these advances, he also made contributions to sociology with studies, inspirational references and writings. His inventions touched, and continues to touch millions of people, all around the world and shape the way that both fuels and the way that we travel.

The best quality that can be seen in Henry Ford’s life is the fact that he never lost sight of his morals, even when faced with criticism. Even in his wealth he remained humble and respected others. He treated people well, especially his workers. His workers were paid more than double of what workers at similar jobs were being paid during that time period.

My favourite Henry Ford quotes:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” 

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” 

Hilary Clinton

An advocate for children’s rights and welfare, she became an indispensable champion of gender equality both at work and at home, and a staunch defender of reproductive rights. It is no coincidence that her tenure as First Lady coincided with the passage of key policies for American women and children. In 1995 her declaration that “it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights,” at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, electrified the world. Her run for the president of the United States made the prospect of a woman as commander-in-chief seem not only possible, but inevitable. And in her tenure as secretary of state she has proven that she doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers, speaking out forcefully on women’s rights. In her long and truly remarkable career, Clinton has been a role model to millions, an indispensable voice, and one of the most relentless advocates for women worldwide. In a recent speech in Toronto, Clinton said electing a woman president “would send exactly the right historic signal to girls, women as well as boys and men. And I will certainly vote for the right woman to be president.”

Hillary Clinton has been an inescapable American public figure for more than 20 years now – First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State. In her whirlwind final year as secretary of state, Clinton became one of the most popular politicians in America and she is increasingly celebrated as a class act who has managed to reinvent herself from losing presidential aspirant to world-class problem solver. At 65, she still seems to have the passion and the energy to make a difference!

I

isambard-kingdom-brunelIsambard Kingdom Brunel

One of the great British engineers of the 19th century Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) built twenty-five railways lines, over a hundred bridges, including five suspension bridges, eight pier and dock systems, three ships and a pre-fabricated army field hospital. He was the only son of French civil engineer Sir Marc Brunel and under his father’s guidance Isambard was fluent in French and had a command over the basics of engineering by the age of eight.

Brunel’s international engineering status was established by his work on the Great Western Railway (GWR) linking Bristol and London. At the age of 27 he was appointed GWR’s chief engineer. And his achievements included viaducts at Hanwell and Chippenham, the Maidenhead Bridge, the Box Tunnel and Bristol’s Temple Meads Station. Not content with railways the far-sighted Brunel persuaded the company which backed the Great Western Railway to consider trans-Atlantic travel. The Great Steamship Company was established, allowing Brunel to build a steam ship to cross from Bristol to New York. At 236 feet long the Great Western was the largest steamship of its time. She made her first voyage in 1838. The journey took 15 days and was the first of more than 60 crossings made over the next eight years. Brunel’s next steamship quickly overshadowed her older sister. At the time of the SS Great Britain’s launch in 1843 she was the largest ship in the world. She was also the first screw-propelled, ocean-going, iron-hulled steam ship – a truly revolutionary vessel and fore-runner of all modern shipping.

A celebrated engineer in his era, Brunel remains revered today, as evidenced by numerous monuments to him across the UK.

Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton contributed significantly to the field of science over his lifetime. He invented calculus and provided a clear understanding of optics. Born in England in1642, Isaac Newton attended Trinity College in Cambridge. While there, he took interest in mathematics, optics, physics, and astronomy.

His most famous work came with the publication of his “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), generally called Principia. In it, he determined the three laws of motion for the universe. Newton then went on to calculate the universal law of gravity. These laws helped scientists understand more about the motions of planets in the solar system, and of the moon around Earth.

His surviving writings and letters reveal a person with tremendous powers of concentration, the ability to stand long periods of intense mental strain, and the ability to remain free of distractions.  In changing from pursuit of answers to the question “Why?” to focus upon “What?” and “How?,” he prepared the way for the age of technology.

J

JFK John F KennedyJohn F Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, is one of the most celebrated and idolised figures in American history and across the globe. Born into a wealthy, well-connected family, Kennedy was bred for a life in politics. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II—JFK earned several medals for his bravery—he ran for Congress and won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1946. Kennedy served in Congress for fourteen years—six in the House and eight in the Senate—and built a real name for himself in the Democratic Party. Kennedy launched a presidential campaign in 1959 defeating Richard Nixon in one of the closest elections in decades. Though his presidency was characterized by a mixed bag of blunders (the Bay of Pigs), successes (the Cuban Missile Crisis), and indiscretions (affairs with numerous women), Kennedy’s charisma was a constant and his vision of American progress was undeniably inspiring. Although John F. Kennedy’s tenure as commander-in-chief was tragically short—only two years and ten months passed between his inauguration and his assassination in 1963—and his accomplishments in the White House relatively modest, he is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential presidents of all time.

As the youngest person ever to be elected president, he charmed the nation with his charisma, injecting new energy into the federal government at a turning point in U.S. history. Kennedy ushered in the 1960s, a decade of great activism and social change, with an idealistic message of empowerment: “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” Through his actions and speeches, Kennedy captured the hearts and minds of an entire generation of young people, urging them to participate in civic life, engage with the world, and fight for equality. Even though his presidency did not yield a wealth of concrete political accomplishments, his legacy in American politics has been profound. By issuing a mandate for public service and inspiring a nation to take on all the challenges of a new era, JFK helped set the stage for the major social, cultural, and political changes of the past half century.

This is my favourite JFK quote:

‘We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.’

President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962, at Rice University, Houston, Texas

Jeff Bezos

If you didn’t know, Jeff Bezos is the Founder and CEO of Amazon, one of my favourite brands.

Bezos is the ultimate disruptor: He has upended the book industry and displaced electronics merchants. Now Amazon is pushing into everything from fashion retailing and feature-film production to iPad-worthy tablet manufacturing with the Kindle. Amazon even sells ultra-cheap database software for businesses.  He’s willing to take risks and lose money, yet investors have embraced him, pushing Amazon’s share price up and up. And even as Amazon expands and experiments, Bezos remains zealous about delivering a good customer experience.

“We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards,” he says. “That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.” Pushing the publishing industry to make books available electronically was a customer-friendly proposition: Readers got instant gratification at lower prices. Amazon Prime, the company’s popular all-you-can-eat delivery offering, eliminates friction; if you’ve already paid for unlimited shipping, then you order what you want, when you want, in the quantities you want. Amazon Web Services, the company’s newest big division, offers business customers the same sophisticated online infrastructure technology that Amazon has developed for itself.

Bezos is also willing to cannibalise his own companies: Amazon spent nearly $1 billion to acquire shoe retailer Zappos in 2009, but its Amazon shoe site competes directly with Zappos. As well, Bezos is adept both at changing the subject to one of his choosing and at crafting a reality that suits his purposes. Asked if Amazon’s price-comparison app, launched during last Christmas’s shopping season to the intense irritation of physical retailers, was a gentlemanly thing to do, Bezos responds, “I would broaden that to say we live in a world that is becoming more and more transparent.”

Amazon also tolerates businesses under its roof that are unconnected to one another. Amazon Web Services, for example, has nothing in common with Kindles, and that’s just fine with Bezos. He allows each to operate independently as long as they adhere to Amazon’s overall values. He calls this “distributed innovation,” and it contributes to a nimble corporate mindset that allows Amazon to branch out into new areas.
A strong strain of pragmatism, or practicality, runs through Bezos’s decision-making. Sure, he has his credos, and he cites them frequently. “The three big ideas at Amazon are long-term thinking, customer obsession, and a willingness to invent,” he says. A great mantra for any business, I would suggest!

J.K. Rowling

A phenomenon of magic and wizardry was ignited when J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels were published. Although not an obvious choice for this A to Z for many, she certainly is an inspiration to me. Rowling has been a best-selling author, generating huge interest from a global audience. Furthermore, J.K. Rowling herself has been an inspiration to many people alongside her magnificent talent for writing. With her charitable spirit and courageous personality I feel that J .K. Rowling is a worthy candidate for this A to Z.

Rowling lived quite a traumatic life, losing her mother to multiple sclerosis at a young age. She graduated from the University of Exeter and in 1990 she immigrated to Portugal, where she taught English. It was at this stage in her life that she became romantically involved, marrying a Portuguese journalist, Jorge Arantes, and having a daughter in 1993. Unfortunately, this marriage was not very long-lasting and resulted in a divorce. Rowling and her daughter, Jessica, moved back to Scotland.

As with many authors, she had to overcome the difficulties of publishing her first book. In 1999, a small, low-key publisher offered to publish the book, unaware of the exceptional success that would become of this fictional tale. She went from ‘rags to riches’ in under five years! The reaction to the books really exploded just before the release of the fourth book; ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,’ in 2000. This was noted as the fastest selling book in history at the time. She has now sold over half a billion books! Movies, merchandising, video games and a theme park followed. Rowling was involved heavily in all of them, vetoing ideas that were not true to the Harry Potter brand.

In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named ‘Most Influential Woman in Britain’. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and the Children’s High Level Group.

K

ken-blanchardKen Blanchard

Ken Blanchard (born in 1939) is an American author and management expert. His book The One Minute Manager (co-authored with Spencer Johnson) has sold over 13 million copies and has been translated into 37 languages. Blanchard is the “chief spiritual officer” of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm that he and his wife, Marjorie Blanchard, cofounded in 1979 in San Diego, California. In addition to being a renowned speaker and consultant, Ken Blanchard also spends time as a visiting lecturer at his alma mater, Cornell University, where he is a trustee emeritus of the Board of Trustees. Born in New Jersey and raised in New York, Ken Blanchard received a Master’s degree from Colgate University, and a Bachelor’s and PhD from Cornell University.

Few people have influenced the day-to-day management of people and companies more than Ken Blanchard. A prominent, sought-after author, speaker, and business consultant, Dr. Blanchard is universally characterized by his friends, colleagues, and clients as one of the most insightful, powerful, and compassionate individuals in business today. Ken is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world and is respected for his years of ground-breaking work in the fields of leadership and management.

Blanchard has inspired me, probably more than any other author. He has written over 40 books, my favourite ones being; Gung Ho! Turn On the People in Any OrganizationFull Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Company and Your LifeRaving Fans a Revolutionary Approach to Customer ServiceLeading at a Higher Level: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations and Whale Done! : The Power of Positive Relationships 

I have given a copy of ‘Gung Ho’ to every manager that has worked for me and if you haven’t read it, you must!

Kelly Holmes

The Athens Olympic Games was the pinnacle of a long international athletics career for Dame Kelly Holmes. Her Double Olympic Gold triumph changed her life forever and fulfilled her second childhood dream of becoming an Olympic Champion.

Her first dream was joining the British Army which she realised at the age of 17; Kelly turned her back on an early athletics career to forge a successful military career and become a Training Instructor in the British Army. She was later recognised for her services to the Military when she received her MBE after almost ten years’ service. However, she was decided to return to the track in 1992.

The build-up to the Athens Olympic Games was the first year in seven, that Kelly wasn’t injured and she made the brave decision to double up in the 800m and 1500m, and the rest is history. She finished her illustrious career with twelve major championship medals from the Olympics, Worlds, Commonwealth Games and Europeans.

As well as her athletics achievements, she ranks one of the proudest moments of her life as receiving her Damehood from the Queen in March 2005. Since retiring from international athletics, Kelly has started a new chapter in her life in the business world; establishing her own company Double Gold and her charity the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust. She has also been active in raising the profile of school sport up the political agenda. Kelly became National School Sport Champion in 2006 for three years and pioneered the creation of National School Sport Week. She also led the creation of Girls Active set up with the Youth Sports Trust to capture the interest of disengaged female teenagers.

She also fulfils speaking engagements to the corporate industry sharing her stories of overcoming adversity, setbacks and desperation to finally achieve her lifelong dreams. In her limited spare time, Kelly devotes time to supporting her chosen charities the Laureus Sports Foundation, Hospice in the Weald and Sport Relief, alongside her own charity.

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Larry Page GoogleLarry Page

Google has become as much as a part of our culture as it has a leading site for finding information. It’s even become a verb – I google, you google, they google! Offered in multiple languages, Google – and its products and services – has become a part of our every day lives. Google has expanded dramatically since it was founded in 1998. What is now a multi-billion dollar company, with thousands of workers and offices, originally began in a very different place: a dorm room with just two employees. One of these staff members was Larry Page.

With a love of computers that began at age six, Larry Page went on to develop his passion and talent at The University of Michigan, where he graduated with honours and a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Larry then went on to the ph.D. program in computer science at Stanford University, where he met future business partner Sergey Brin.

Since co-founding Google in 1998, Larry Page has won numerous honours and awards, including being named a World Economic Forum Global Leader for Tomorrow. Page was also awarded the Marconi Prize in 2004 – an annual award recognizing advancements in communications. Page moved into his role as President of Products in April 2001 and continues to run the company along with partners Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt.

Page has never swayed from his desire to provide us easy access to all of the world’s information. His belief in the power of the internet to deliver information instantaneously has led him to a high status on the Forbes Richest American’s list – a $15 billion dollar status to be exact.

As a co-founder of one of the most famous brands on the planet, Larry Page has become an inspiring entrepreneur who has helped his business to grow from a dorm room business run by two students to the multi-billion company it has come to be today.

Leonardo da Vinci

The fame of Da Vinci’s (1452 -1519) surviving paintings has meant that he has been regarded primarily as an artist, but the thousands of surviving pages of his notebooks reveal the most eclectic and brilliant of minds. He wrote and drew on subjects including geology, anatomy (which he studied in order to paint the human form more accurately), flight, gravity and optics, often flitting from subject to subject on a single page, and writing in left-handed mirror script. He ‘invented’ the bicycle, airplane, helicopter, and parachute some 500 years ahead of their time.

If all this work had been published in an intelligible form, da Vinci’s place as a pioneering scientist would have been beyond dispute. Yet his true genius was not as a scientist or an artist, but as a combination of the two: an ‘artist-engineer’. His painting was scientific, based on a deep understanding of the workings of the human body and the physics of light and shade. His science was expressed through art, and his drawings and diagrams show what he meant, and how he understood the world to work. I’ll leave you with 3 of my favourite Da Vinci quotes:

“It has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

“There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.”

“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”

I hope you enjoyed part 2 of this A to Z. If you missed Part 1, click here. Part 3 coming soon!

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The Need for Speed ~ Driving Pace in Your Organisation ~ Part 1

Driving PACE in your organisationSucceeding in today’s competitive business environment requires that your organisation be agile enough to respond quickly to internal and external change. To stay ahead, you have to explore new ways to grow your business – for example, by launching a new product or service or targeting a different marketplace. Speed and focus could become your biggest competitive advantages.

For this to succeed, you will need to rapidly align resources and people so as to drive speed, efficiency, and profitability. But how do you achieve this level of organisational agility – and ensure focused execution across your business?

The key is driving organisational alignment – an elusive goal for many companies. This requires strong executive alignment, an organisational mind-set that values performance management, and the ability to perform effectively. Once these elements are in place, you need baseline information to devise the right strategies, a clear understanding of interdependencies, and insight into where to deploy personnel and budgets. To drive adoption, you must communicate strategies to employees in ways that they understand and embrace and that are within the context of their roles. You must provide the right tools and incentives to help them execute on a daily basis and in alignment with corporate strategies.

However, if your organisation is like most, there is a significant gap between strategy and execution because of breakdowns in one or more of these areas.

You need to consider how to implement PACE in your organisation: Planning, Alignment, Communication and Execution

This first post, in a 4 part series, will focus on:

Planning

Why is planning so important and why must it be done in parallel with strategy? From a macro perspective, business today gets done in a global marketplace. Change is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Time and distance continue to become less and less relevant thanks in great part to the explosive growth and convergence of technology and the internet.

There was a time when strategic planning was done by only the biggest companies, and those who lead change. Now it is a requirement just to survive. Leaders of business must be looking ahead, anticipating change, and developing a strategy to proactively and successfully navigate through the turbulence created by change.

a) Clarity of Strategic Goals and Markets

How are you going to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going? Everyone in an organisation needs to know what you sell or do, who your target customers are, how you compete and in which markets you operate. A good strategy will balance revenue and margin generation with productivity initiatives. Without strategic planning, businesses simply drift, and are always reacting to the pressure of the day. Companies that don’t plan have exponentially higher rates of failure than those that plan and implement well.

For many business owners and leaders, creating a vision, company values, and a strategic plan can be a daunting task for reasons like time, energy, commitment and lack of experience. It requires business leaders to accept that yesterday’s success does not ensure success in the future. It requires challenging the status quo, potentially changing behaviours, implementing new procedures, hiring different people, and putting new systems in place in order to deliver on the strategy.

Make no mistake; the best plans and ideas without great execution are just plans or ideas, they don’t result in much of anything. Regardless of the size of a company, a strategic plan is the foundation on which all business activities can be connected and “aligned”.

b) OMG! – One Magnificent Goal!

The idea for One Magnificent Goal is derived from the fantastic book by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras; Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies – They termed it ‘BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal’

OMG is THE goal that really stretches you to think differently about how you do business. It’s THE goal that is going to help you transform your business, rather than being satisfied with incremental change. It’s THE goal that’s going to inspire you to do your best work and outshine your competition.

What is THE ONE BIG aspirational idea that your people can really get behind; that will really make them deliver +1%?

  • It could be Target Driven –  JFK’s – ‘this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”
  • It could be Competitor Driven – Crush Adidas! (Nike, 1960s)
  • It could be Role-model Driven – Audi’s OMG in 2005: To match the exclusive image of mighty Benz and BMW
  • It could be a Business Transformation – Amazon.com: Every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds

When you consider OMGs for your organisation here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • It should be so clear and compelling that it requires little or no explanation
  • It should fall well outside your comfort zone
  • It should be so bold and exciting in its own right that it will stimulate progress even if the leaders disappear
  • It should be consistent with the company’s core ideology

If your OMG doesn’t meet these criteria you should really think again!

c) The Plan Itself

If you are serious about reaching your OMG, you have to develop a plan that  clearly takes you through milestones or even better,  ‘Inch Pebbles’ to meet that OMG. If you don’t, you can’t even  expect to get close. You have to do more than you have ever done. You also have to look for  new and creative ways, to get to the result.

I’m not, in this post, going to be prescriptive about how you build a plan, but I would ask you to consider the following questions:

How do I bridge the gap? – How can you most effectively get from where you are now to where you want to go? And in what time-frame? What strategic initiatives are needed to bridge the gap?

What are the controls I need to put in place? What monitoring, project management, reporting, and performance management do I need to put in place to achieve these initiatives?

What people do I need to ensure I reach my OMG? Will the team you have today be enough to deliver your OMG? Do you need more people or different people? Do you need to change the people (training & development) or change the people (restructure & recruit)?

Can I afford to do this? What costs will be incurred in delivering the initiatives that will help you reach your OMG? Over what time frame? What would be the cost of not doing them? What contingencies do you need to put in place along the way if some of your initiatives fail?

Answering these questions will help you formulate your plan.

So, you understand the market place and your strategic ambition within it, your OMG. You have a plan to achieve it. Have you got the right people, organisational structure and culture to deliver it? In Part 2 of The Need for Speed – Driving Pace in Your Organisation,  I will be look at the second element of PACE, Alignment.

The Oracle – Leadership Styles – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of Leadership Styles – The Oracle

The late, great and inspirational Steve Jobs (Founder of Apple)  made a statement that neatly introduces The Oracle leadership style:

‘Leaders are fascinated by the future, you are a leader if, and only if, you are restless for change, impatient for progress, and deeply dissatisfied with the status quo. As a leader you are never satisfied with the present, because in your head you can see a better future, and the friction between what is and what could be burns you, stirs you, propels you forward.’

The OracleBusiness leaders do not generally have a crystal ball to predict the future of their business and guide them in their leadership decisions. The Oracle creates his / her own future vision for their business, organisation or people. Whereas some people look at the future and ask ‘why?’, the Oracle sees things that do not exist and asks ‘why not?’. They have the ability to see social and market trends and create a future. They literally can see things others cannot.

The Oracle is also capable of enlisting large numbers of followers through their passion and use of language. They are generally gifted speakers and have high levels of charisma.

If you haven’t heard or read Martin Luther King’s – ‘I have a dream….’, or JFK’s – ‘We choose to go the moon…‘, or Winston Churchill’s – ‘We shall fight on the beaches‘, you really should! Three hugely visionary speeches that instil passion, emotion and desire to be part of something big. The power of The Oracle.

The Oracle leadership style is often most effective when an organisation needs to make a step change in direction.

They often portray the following characteristics:
  • Creates an inspiring vision of how the future will look.
  • Inspires people to understand the larger purpose of their work.
  • Creates an environment where people feel pride in belonging to the organisation.
  • Operates from an inspiring set of shared core values and beliefs
  • Engages people in working towards a shared vision
  • Encourages people to innovate, experiment and take calculated risks in pursuit of the vision.
  • Aligns performance and strategy with the vision.

The Oracle is most effective when:

  • A new vision or clear direction is needed, e.g. when in a period of change – at an individual or organisational level.
  • The leader believes in the vision; and sees it as being in tune with his / her own values and those of the organisation.
  • The leader is self-confident, self-aware and empathic to others.

The Oracle is least effective when:

  •  The leader is not regarded as credible, i.e. others feel they know more about the organisation than the leader.
  • When overplayed, i.e. if trying to steal power from a team-based approach.

Summary

When effective, the Oracle motivates individuals by focussing their attention on the long-term goals of the organisation; and how each individual contributes to its delivery. When not used effectively this style fails to take into account the natural talents and experience of the knowledgeable team members.

The Oracle is the most charismatic of Leaders and comes in many forms and contexts. According to the many books and blogs on the topic of leadership, The Oracle is the person who, to a large extent, single-handedly formulates a winning vision of where and how the organisation is to be in the future and who takes prime responsibility for ensuring that the organisation’s people ‘live’ the vision.

Would love to hear your feedback!

Be sure to read part 4 of Leadership Styles – The Collaborator

Other posts in the Leadership Style Series – The Terminator and The Coach

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