7 thoughts for introvert and extrovert leaders

 I saw this earlier today and hope that The NHS Leadership Academy does not mind me recycling it!

7 thoughts for introvert
and extrovert leaders

To celebrate Carl Jung’s birthday – the originator of the theory that (allegedly) led to what most people now know as MBTI – here are seven thoughts for introvert and extrovert leaders…
Extrovert leaders Introvert leaders
1. Often speak first and think later – so be careful to stop talking and listen to others 1. Often think first and speak later – so be careful not to miss the moment to make your point
2. Can prefer to talk things through – and sometimes it’s better to think through your message first 2. Can prefer to be alone with their thoughts – so sometimes remember to engage people
3. Get energised from being with others – and, remember for some tasks you need quiet concentration 3. Get energised from being alone – and, remember to get out and about
4. Tend to spend energy when working alone – so find time to recharge with people and dialogue 4. Tend to spend energy when with others – so find time to recharge on your own
5. Like to get and give praise in public – and sometimes the team want your feedback in private 5. Like to get and give praise in private – and sometimes the team want to celebrate together
6. Can prefer to communicate by talking – and your team sometimes prefer a considered email to an immediate speech 6. Can prefer to communicate in writing – and remember, your team want to see and hear you
7. Like to dive in immediately – so check yourself sometimes and hold back a bit 7. Like to hold back and wait – so push yourself sometimes to dive right in

NHS Leadership Academy

NHS Leadership Academy, Leeds, UK


tumble weedIn this article, I want to explore one of the most fundamental aspects of our universe – entropy. Entropy can be described in equation form:


But please stay with me, because I am more interested in the everyday understanding of the term, sometimes defined as:

“…a measure of disorder in the universe…”

In physics, the Law of Entropy essentially says that all systems, if left unattended, will run down. Unless new energy is supplied, every organism deteriorates. Things tend towards the lowest energy state – iron rusts, organic material rots, the pile of leaves in the garden (that you have so carefully raked together) redistributes itself widely, offices and homes become more and more untidy… unless energy is committed to maintaining or ‘improving’ the status quo.

So what has this got to do with you? Well, if you look at the concept in a different way, the same law applies to individuals and both personal and professional relationships.

How many of us have friends or colleagues who just seem to have drifted off our ‘live’ circle? Unless we put some effort into the important relationships in our life they will inevitable decay, sometimes terminally.

Likewise, unless I put effort into myself I will end up drifting along being buffeted like that tumbleweed in the old Western films. Albert Schweitzer once wrote that some people “harm their souls… without being exposed to great temptations. They simply let their souls wither, not realising that thoughts which meant a great deal to them in their youth, have turned into meaningless sounds.”

My challenge today is to spend some time thinking about, and then acting upon, how you are going to nourish yourself and those you hold to be important to you. Maybe, as a start, you could construct a relationship map. Relationship mapping is a way of pictorially representing the key elements and issues in your team:

  • Write your name in a circle at the centre of the page
  • Also circle the names of your team members, your boss(es), colleague(s), key external contact(s) and other individuals with whom you have regular contact
    • Put arrows to and from each individually, and indicate:
    • the current strength of the relationship with the thickness of the line
    • the importance (to you and your role) of the relationship with the length of the line
    • what you need from them and what they need from you in brief bullet points next to each arrow
  • You may wish to use other colours/symbols to represent other aspects of the relationship.
  • You might also want to highlight any relationships between the others on the map.


Remember that if YOU want something out of a relationship, then it is up to YOU to do something about it – otherwise it will wither and die.

An interesting question – what is the best leadership book?

I was just paying my bill after a rather nice lunch, whilst at the same time reading Tools And Techniques Of Leadership And Management by Ralph Stacey.

Stacey “That looks interesting, do you know anything about leadership?” said the young guy serving me.

I explained that I had offered to review the book and was finding it so interesting that I was reading it in detail rather than the broader skim that reviewing normally requires. I will be posting a review of the book in due course, suffice it to say that I am finding it extremely stimulating, relevant and ‘on the mark’ as regards leadership today and effecting change in organisations.

We had a bit of an interchange and then this guy asked “So what do you think is the best leadership book?” “Well” I said “give me a minute to have a think about that” and so he went away.

Now it is of course a totally unanswerable question, not only because of the tens of thousands of leadership books out there but also because of the best depends not only on my own judgement but his own needs. So when he came back we had a brief conversation about the difference between leadership and management (yet another blog will be exploring whether this distinction really exists) and how, in my view, leadership is partly about what you do and even more about who and how you are. I have a proposition that the way to become more effective leader is to become a bigger and better me – role models may be useful, but they are all different and if you do manage to isolate the common attributes of Margaret Thatcher, Gandhi, Richard Branson, Hitler, Jesus etc. then you end up with a minimum entry requirements to leadership rather than the difference that makes the difference.

So in the end I recommended two titles, books that have had a great impact on me. The first was Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People and the second JS Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

7 Habits  JLS

Two very different books and yet books that I know from my own personal experience have helped me become a better me.

I would be interested to know how you would response to a similar question.

Systemic Coaching

Systemic CoachingAt the September EMCC meeting I was part of a small group discussing ‘systemic coaching’. The three of us discussing the topic were really trying to find out what it was all about and this note is my own brief summary of John Whittington’s book “Systemic coaching and constellations” which prompted the enquiry.

The basic proposition is that when coaching an individual the coach needs to explicitly recognise that their client sits within a broader system of relationships and that by coaching the clients we are essentially coaching the system. He goes beyond that to suggest that the coach themselves now becomes part of that system and needs to be hyper-vigilant about their own behaviour and responses.

Extending the idea, he suggests that any individual’s position in the system might be described on the basis of the three criteria – Time, Place and Exchange. Time indicating the actual, or perhaps perceptual, time for which the individual has been part of the system. Place indicating not just the hierarchical position in the system but also the location in the shadow organisation (although he does not talk about shadow organisations specifically – I have interpreted Whittington’s comment on the basis of my understanding of Ed Schein’s concepts). Finally, Exchange relates to what the various players in the system give to and/or take from each other.

His idea of ‘constellations’ is to actively and physically map out these relationships within a system and to have the client explore the implications of changes in those relationships and how those changes might be stimulated. He suggests using physical objects (which of course he can sell you) to represent the players or spatially mapping them on the floor of a room using pieces of paper with individual’s names on them.

The rest of the book goes on to describe a series of case studies and possible approaches to issues or incongruities appearing within the system map.

It is probably worth a read, although for me what I think he was doing with systematising some existing ideas in my current practice. For instance he is fairly explicit in comparing his approach to that of perceptual positions typically associated with NLP. Likewise when he suggests exploring where each individual’s focus of attention is directed, I am reminded of issues to do with personal, team or organisational objectives – not least the implications of that orientation in terms of organisational politics.

It would be interesting to know what other coaches, perhaps particularly those who recognise or use this explicit methodology, have to say.