What is this leadership thing you speak of? #42 #cong21


Leadership is perhaps more about NOT leading than leading. Being a leader is complicated and difficult, with not a little dose of imposter syndrome thrown in.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is complicated and difficult.
  2. Is NOT leading a better example than leading?
  3. Imposter Syndrome makes for a better leader.
  4. Lead for good – not selfish reasons.

About Chris Reina

Chris Reina has been involved in education since 2002, technology since 1981 and Making since 1971. (You do the maths). He is 1/3 of MakerMeet.IE – who deliver Maker-led, project-based S.T.E.A.M. workshops nationwide to the education, enterprise and private sectors.

He feels passionately that education is the most important thing in the world and that teaching using Maker skills is the most rewarding job there is.

Chris loves cats, kayaking, kite-flying, steampunk, pedantic semantics and knowing the meanings of ligatures, aglets, gallibanders and lexiphanic.

Contacting Chris Reina

You can connect with Chris on his personal and maker meet twitter accounts, Instagram, Facebook or send him an email.

See also MakerMeet or TeachTech websites.

By Chris Reina

I have started writing this at least 6-7 times. I abandoned it each time and began a re-write. I still don’t know what to say. As someone who is a leader (albeit unintentional) for many people of varying age groups and areas of life – I often feel uncomfortable and fraudulent in my capacity as a leader.

Pondering this – while writing an essay on leadership is both ironic and leads to feelings of imposter syndrome. After the 6th (or was it 7th) time of writing, I began to ponder less on myself and more on my emotions. Perhaps… I thought – these very feelings are not uncommon and even add to the qualities of a leader.

As an educator – I certainly know it is better to exhibit the qualities of integrity, honesty, motivation, ethics and humility rather than teach them. Nudging rather than bludgeoning if you will.

Leadership can take many forms. From those who bully and berate to those that encourage and enrich. Perhaps the most difficult form of leadership is one of modelling. For me, a good leader attempts to model qualities and good behaviour to everyone – regardless of staff to customer; employee to manager; cleaning person to chauffeur; CEO to COO; educator to entrepreneur.

Certainly hard work, motivation, vision, 21st century skills, communication and compassion are all some of the requirements to succeed in being an effective leader. However, often I believe leadership is confused with success. While the two are not mutually exclusive, they are definitely not the same. As leadership can take many forms, so too can success. Defining both leadership and success can clarify to each of us how we see ourselves, our goals and our unique world-view.

Leaders are all around us. Family, society, education, government, religious, health, economic, world and more. I marvel at the pressure that must be felt by those with the dedication and responsibility for more than two of the above. It must be almost unbearable – and yet many bear it. To those who bear it with dignity and compassion in environments where many don’t want them to be leaders who succeed – I’m in awe.

There can be many reasons why some people want to be a leader. Money, power, control, fame, validation, glory and prestige are some of the poorer reasons. Some of the better reasons are a genuine desire to help others, selflessness, public-spiritedness, benevolence, humanitarianism and philanthropy. On self-reflection – I wonder which of the poorer or better areas I fall in to. It’s difficult to know sometimes and requires asking hard questions of myself. (Which I haven’t asked nor answered yet!)

I know many people in positions of leadership and many have taught me difficult lessons – some of which I’ve learned and some I haven’t! Most have earned my respect and a few have lost my respect entirely. For the latter, their guidance has fallen short of my hoped expectations – or more accurately, they simply didn’t care about their responsibility or job. “Meh” seems to cover them adequately.

In reflection of the leaders whom I respect entirely, most feel they are poor at their job, don’t work hard enough and are just “getting along”. Few see the gentle guidance, support and encouragement they offer on a daily basis. Imposter syndrome strikes again. And yet… I wonder again if that quality makes a better leader.

In short (or long?) – clearly, being a leader is complicated, difficult and fraught with self-doubt (well, for me anyway). To those who inspire and lead me – you know not what you have done – and yet have done the most. I’m remarkably fortunate to count those people as my friends, colleagues, and collaborators in diverse communities around the world and close to home. I believe we’re all leaders and to strive for better is always a worthwhile goal of success to define ourselves by.

Are you a port and Starboard guy? #41 #cong21


There are lots of hidden leadership lessons in the story of an epic ship voyage

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  1. Coming soon

About Owen Higgins

Irish Dubliner

Accident of birth

Made in Connemara

Went to school in Synge street

The German teacher told me I would be a failure for the rest of my life

Bruce College

Met My Friend Cliona

Met Colin Farrell,


IT Support / 1994 – Present

All the technologies; pre-Plug and Pray to today

Favorite tool was a screw driver




Vikings Marines

Love climbing hills

Contacting Owen Higgings

Check out Owens work on bbc IT Advisors or email him.

By Owen Higgins

When I hopped on the boat it was the first question i asked the skipper. From that point on it should have been all plain sailing .. just echo his commands, keep everyone safe..  be the voice..  that was the only advice I’d been given… our own skipper was down with a bad cold.

Most days we did not know what was to happen and talking about it would be optional as the day progressed.  In fact talking,  might even be dangerous.

Kieron said he was indeed a port and starboard guy

The word Starboard has its origins in Viking long boats,  it was the steering board side of the boat . The rudder not being centred on the ship like modern craft

With all the crew facing to the rear and rowing with their backs to the direction of travel it became an unmissable landmark on the ship.  Crews adopted this landmark as a means to explain which side should pull harder on their oars.

Some captains would identify their favourite oarsman and communicate with the crew via his/ her name.  Other captains  did not know  their port or starboard..    and still there were captains  who did not even need oarsmen at all  like Kenny.

“Right lads,  this is what is going to happen”

If there was a briefing, it was always brief, questions usually came from the less experienced and questions for the most were ignored.  questions being a sort of smoke screen as the answers would become evident only through the trial and errors.

The mission today was to deliver stores to a fort two miles up the river at high tide,  there would be three boats  and the final delivery point was within a huge armed compound.  The entrance to this compound guarded by two huge towers  and an equally huge hinged gate.  The clearance for the hull of the ships  was tight which meant that the oars would need to be pulled inside the ship just as we reached the towers  and then extended  again on the other side of the gate…  add to this the complexity of a fast river which meant a certain amount of speed was required and once committed the skipper would need all his skills to guide the ship through the narrow channel.

When anyone boarded the ship it was important to bring them on safely.  Hands projected up over the gunnels to guide everyone aboard,  even those jolly enough to jump or swing from ropes demonstrating their independence were watched .. just in case.  The ship dividing into little parcels of jokes or songs. People settled ito their day.

Whistling wasn’t allowed, for it encouraged bad winds..  but little in the way of superstition really ever existed.  There was a common instinct, everyone who was aboard wanted to be there and little in the way of fear ever seemed present in the men and women I worked with.  Perhaps it was there in the jokes and songs, but one could not define or sense fear ever.

To get things done you must do..

When new people were rowing it was customary to let them get a feel of it without trying to give too much direction.  If their oar was not hitting the water correctly or out of time a stern warning was shot across their bow.  “Watch your Oar”,  “watch your stroke” were Familiar calls on board a ship…    they make a new person  very worried.. and an old hand wake up and focus… as it is easy lose track .

An exciting day was ahead

Another ship,  the freya had been doing this all week  with an inexperienced crew.  We would be following her example up the river matching her stroke and following her line.

“Oars out”

The sun was low but bright, a fresh breeze finding us inside this sheltered valley. There would be a little bit more work for those on the port side all day  as we fought against the breeze and those on the port side started to feel this responsibility right from the start.

There was a lad named Zettwik  having difficulty at the back..

I could see his opposite explaining something about pushing forward on the oar  rather than pushing down on the oar as we prepared the ship to get underway.

“All together now”

The ship lurched ahead with a slight list to port.. the skipper indicating that the heavy men chatting up at the bow needed to spread their weight to both sides. Two strokes later the chatting subsided and all eyes were fixed.

“come on  get the stroke “

To move a viking ship, all oars  must hit the water at exactly the same time . There can be no delay from bow to stern,  no staggering.  Often this must be explained with words familiar to all crews.  A multitude of control words exist  to enhance and tune this synchronisation .  The best method  is for everyone to watch  the man or woman at the very front of the ship for their timing

There is a beautiful sound of a singular splash when synchronisation is achieved and this must be encouraged and recognised .

“That’s it  perfect”

Identifying the sound and experiencing the feeling of power of men  is perhaps one of the most beautiful parts of the day.  One never expects it straight away but this crew was experienced and almost straight away things were off to a nice start.

It was an easy cruise up the river to the fort .

As we rounded the final corner  this huge gate the height of the ships mast came into view.  We stopped the boats close to a sheer face of rock about 200 meters on the opposite bank.  A few oars dabbing in the water to hold station…  I could hear Gavar talking about how the entrance was too tight  and what were they thinking.

Gavar  had worked on the forts construction..  it had taken three months to build.  It did seem a bit  tight  for the ships,  but more of a challenge … more fun.

We watched  the huge doors  open between the towers on either side  and the freya which was sitting a few meters off our port side started to move away from us without much hesitation.  We watched her pick up speed the ship lurching forward with each stroke,  faster and faster…    She  started to turn and line up on the entrance and with about five meters  to spare  each set of oars from bow tow stern disappeared into the ship .. with the oars in she glided through the entrance on her momentum  and once on the other side  the oars  started coming out again one  by one.    once you know something can be done..  its easier to do it.

We all watched waiting for the noise of her bumping off the sides  but there wer no bumps,   no oars broken  and happy cheers  echoing around the valley on the opposite shore for their arrival.

All the while as we waited  slight corrections of our own ship were required.  Without hesitation we made our own start..

“pull  lads”  “Pull hard”

“All together”

With slight changes to the strength of pull on either side of the ship  it was possible to steer  her  left and right..

Half way across the river  to fight the wind “Hard on port”   “Easy on starboard”  pulling the bow  to the right and lining her up on what was essentially a goal post.  “get ready to ship the oars”   20 meters,   10  meters…

“ ship oars…”

With about two meters  before the tight entrance each rower  starts  pulling their oars into the ship.  Each rower  passing the end of their oar to their opposite until only the paddle itself pokes out the oar hole.  It looked good,  it was good…  and with inches to spare on either side we slid through the gates without touching the sides.

The skipper was pleased and the crew excited by this unusual challenge  and elated at having done it first time  without any hitches.


We exchanged greetings  and the usual jokes about marrying  off Don our oldest crew mate to the youngest shield maiden  on the dock.  And it was off again..

“Back Row”  “Push forward” Reverse Stroke”

As the day wore on we did this several times, each time perfecting a better landing or a faster passage up the river.  For lunch a meal was prepared for all and it was during this period I asked the skipper if I could race them.

“they love a race skipper”

I’m not sure if he said yes, but I took it that he had and perhaps deep down inside he also loved a race..

And so we raced the freya..  for ten minutes  , men and women pulled harder on those oars for no other reason than the excitement of being first  or for the fun of racing. Motivated by an unknown unifying force.

“they’re  getting away from us”

The truth of the matter was they were not getting away from us,  the freya  was just about ten meters ahead of us,   but our rowers all face toward the bow so they could not see  how close we were.  They pulled hard on the oars bringing us even closer. .. and closer still.

“Hard on port”  … “hard on port”    “easy on starboard”  Watch your stoke” , “watch your oar” “That’s it”

The stroke was almost at maximum speed when we had lined up ,  we were in the wake of the freya, a stones throw and the two great ships seemed to glide on submerged rails moving like one ship into the fort..  one behind the other.

The whole race had not gone unnoticed,  it had brought about a type of fever amongst the onlookers in the fort also,  a bit of inspiration on an otherwise normal day.

We unloaded the ship,  tied her up , cleaned everything away in preparation for her next voyage and went our separate ways.

Leadership Skills – Lessons from the Front Lines #40 #cong21


Good leadership ensures that an organisation’s Vision, Mission, Values and Strategy are articulated, connected and ultimately realised. Of the above, values are arguably the most critical. In simple terms: values (culture) = behaviours. Feedback is an important leadership skill to ensure the right culture and values develop in an organisation. A resilient leader focuses on doing the basics well every day. This should enable the organisation to grow and achieve its mission and potential.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is learned on the job, but there are key skills that can be learned.
  2. The leader should connect the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategy to the daily work of every team member.
  3. The leader should look after the culture of an organisation – feedback is a key skill for this.
  4. To be resilient, focus on doing the basics well every day.

About Cronan McNamara

Cronan is Founder and CEO of Creme Global and Founder and organiser of the Predict Conference. Creme Global is a data science technology company delivering the Expert Models data science platform.

Cronan is fascinated by in creativity and innovation and is driven to deliver world class products and services, from Ireland, that make an impact globally.

In his spare time Cronan enjoys playing competitive tennis and spending time with his family

Contacting Cronan McNamara

You can follow Cronan on Twitter, LinkedIn or check out Creme Global and the Predict Conference.

By Cronan McNamara

In this article, I write about some of the key things I’ve learned about leadership from 16 years as founder and CEO of Creme Global and in particular from an executive leadership programme called Leadership for Growth that I completed in IESE, Barcelona a few years ago.

I’ve come to realise that good leadership encompasses the following elements:

  • Vision (direction)
  • Mission (purpose)
  • Values (behaviours)
  • Strategy (decisions)
  • Growth
  • Resilience


You should think of your organisation’s Vision as its North Star – what do you want the organization to be when it grows up? It is where you are always heading towards. You may need to adjust course now and again to get around obstacles, but you always tack back towards your North Star as soon as you can. Often, organisations will keep their vision statement internal and confidential.


Mission is an expression of why your organisation exists – its purpose. What impact do you want to make on the world? This is often a public statement. For example, Creme Global’s mission is to enable better decision-making in a complex world using scientific methods, computing and data.

The leader should define the vision and mission of their organisation. Input should be taken from the team and stakeholders, but ultimately the leader should take full ownership and responsibility for these. Once these are defined, the leader should quickly move on to focus on values.


The maxim that culture eats strategy for breakfast is true in my experience. Culture is an expression of your organisation’s values. Values are observable by the behaviours you see in your organisation. Culture & values are the soul of your organisation – you must feel them in your heart, as well as intellectually in your mind.

Organisational values can be selected to design for the behaviours and culture that the leader wants and that will help the organisation to succeed. The values should align with the vision, mission and strategy, of course.

We have broken down our values into strategic values (that are aligned to our specific company mission and vision) and core values (the kind of values that all organisations would want to have). It is important to write both of these sets of values down. Once written down, communicated and understood, you can start to develop your organisation’s culture.

Values (or Culture) = Behaviours.

The best thing to do is to hire for the right values. Do this by using a trusted interview panel that is tuned in to understanding how the applicant’s values align with the organisations.

The leadership team needs to coach and encourage the right behaviours (and discourage the wrong behaviours) on a daily basis in the organisation. They do this by using the skill of feedback.


Feedback is a key leadership skill. It is a simple and effective way to set (and reset) expectations about behaviours (and hence values) in an organisation. Here are the three simple steps to effective feedback:

Positive feedback (for behaviours you want to encourage):

  1. Describe the behaviour that you observed
  2. Explain the impact of the behaviour on the organisation
  3. Congratulations!

Constructive feedback (for behaviours that need to change):

  1. Describe the behaviour that you observed
  2. Explain the impact of the behaviour on the organisation
  3. Coaching

Feedback should only be used for important (non-trivial) issues and it should be timely. Timely doesn’t have to mean straight away, but certainly as close to the time as is practically possible. The observed behaviour should be clearly observable by any independent observer.

Constructive feedback should be delivered one-on-one. Positive feedback can be given in a broader team setting or one-on-one. Finally, the 1, 2, 3 of constructive feedback should be delivered in a neutral (non-emotional) and non-judgemental manner.


There are many things to say about strategy, but what I will say about strategy in a leadership context is as follows: strategy ultimately will boil down to tasks/jobs to be done (strategic objectives) by your team on a daily basis.

The leader’s job is to make sure that the team members (who are carrying out those jobs) understand how those tasks align with the values, mission and vision of the organisation. It’s as simple and as difficult as that!


The more you can grow, the bigger the impact you can make on your mission, so that’s a good thing. Growth is good and it brings more resources, new and interesting opportunities which should keep the team motivated, challenged and engaged.


Resilience is demonstrated by people who have the ability and confidence to do the basics well and consistently. If you want to find a resilient person in your organisation, look for the ones that perform the basics well every day, even under pressure.

Leadership skills can be learned and developed. To be a resilient leader, focus on the basics of vision, mission, strategy, values and feedback every day. Growth will take care of itself.

I hope this article was useful to you. Good luck on your leadership journey!


Leadership 2021 #39 #cong21


The key to answers about leadership is asking more questions to understand what and why Leadership is needed or used.

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About Gerard Costello

I am a Community Alert Development Officer for Muintir na Tire, advising and supporting Community Alert Groups in the Western Region of Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Longford. I went back to collage as a Mature Student and studied Community and Family Studies for four years.

I am involved in various community committees.

Contacting Gerard Costello

You can contact Gerard by email.

By Gerard Costello

Well what do I know about Leadership, not a lot other than the word and some examples. However, as requested by the Leader of Congregation I have to put my thinking cap on and start thinking and learning. Words have different meanings for people and the word Leadership is no different. One can ask the question is there different meanings to the word Leadership. Why are we taking the word ‘Leadership’ as the topic for Congregation 2021?

There are many factors associated with the word Leadership and the more I learn the more I realise how little I know. The more I question the more I learn. Congregation gives a great opportunity to question and learn. I look forward to learning more about Leadership.

  • For the purpose of this topic, I looked at the word leadership and decided to examine the word from a few angles to inform my learning. To start this writing I asked myself a few questions like:
  • Why am I thinking and writing anything at all?
  • What advantage will this exercise be to me or anyone else?
  • What am I to do?
  • What am I to say?
  • What do I want to get out of this writing?
  • What is Leadership?
  • Who can carry out Leadership?
  • Who knows what the correct Leadership is?
  • Who is providing Leadership to my time on this earth?
  • Who are my Leaderships?
  • What Leadership do I provide?
  • What have I to do with Leadership?
  • Why have Leadership?
  • Why was the word created?
  • Is Leadership tangible?
  • Is this exercise a waste of time?
  • How do I simplify the word Leadership or why try simplify the word Leadership?

Answers to some questions could be very straight forward. However, straight forward answers to me could be complicated to others. The key to answers is asking more questions to understand what and why Leadership is needed or used.  If I answered each individual question I would not have my submission in until 2022 or maybe 2023. However, some of the questions are questions I never thought about before and I will be interested to see what answers others would give in their take on Leadership. I am also interested to see if I have left out a question or two.  After all my questions, I can give one answer that I think covers all the questions and just say, Leadership is a word, associated with something good we all need and something we do at times.

How Leadership is carried out depends on many different elements and people. However, for me the greatest traits in Leadership is honesty, trust and truth to others and for others.

The definition of Leadership requires examination in every aspect of its use. True Leadership is to influence, inspire and help others become their best selves, helping to build their skills and achieving goals along the path ways of life. It is always good to check out definitions to establish a process. Take the theory of three ways of doing something which are:

  1. Your way
  2. My way
  3. The right way

Where does Leadership fit into the result of doing something with those three ways. Leadership is there to be followed or avoided. However, not everyone has the skills to be a leader if everyone had then there would be no followers.  Leadership style can vary and the expectations of leaders is often weighed heavy on the role and values. Sometimes people get confused between the word Leadership and Chairperson especially when it comes to getting something done. Description of action can be a great help to overcome confusion.

A definition of the word Leadership is, a person or persons who see something which needs to be done, be it for the good or bad of themselves or others and decides to go and front the idea. Leadership is the front to achieving success.  While ultimate Leadership is, empowering others to become effective leaders as well. That’s why many iconic leaders have incredible mentors they cite for their success.

Looking at actions associated with Leadership, examples that interest me relate to the Leadership within religions over the years.  I look at the great structures of old School Collages that are still in use and think of the word Leadership which was provided at a time to develop society. I think this from the aspect of never attending one. Other people look at old School Collages and tell me the words they think like, hell holes, places of brutality and torture –  these words come from both attendees and non-attendees to these schools. However, in today’s world religious Leadership to some people is, stained. Again it is good to look back to be able to move forward. Look at the ruins of old Abbeys or Monastery’s, Friary’s and think what Leadership came from within these buildings. We have stately buildings where Leadership takes place at the moment, is it good or bad Leadership, again I ask a question. Because there are a lot of angles, definitions and purposes, they all need to be looked at when we question and try to find the right answer to Leadership.

Where is this train of thought taking me in relation to Leadership? Again a question can be asked, did those who worked in old School Collages provide Leadership back in the day when the Schools were new and do they still provide Leadership? For some people the Leadership shown by those who ran the old School Collages was a great empowerment and to others disempowerment. To go forward sometimes one must look back and realise there is good and bad. Learn from the past, look forward to the future and getting involved with positive Leadership. We can struggle with labels but at the end of the day if we don’t have labels no one knowns who we are or we don’t know who others are. We are fortunate to be able to take or leave the label of Leadership in many situations.

Followers need to learn what to expect from modern Leadership and understand what is required from the modern leader and the same can be said for Leadership. We need to appreciate the regulatory frameworks associated with Leadership, the impact upon society, organisations and its strategy. Leadership needs to have clarity about the values and vision of the people who follow. Trust is a key word when it comes to Leadership and trust works both ways. We have to trust our leaders to make the right decision sometimes on our behalf rather than take the decision ourselves. True leaders should be willing to weather the storm and lead a revolution for something they believe in. Leadership especially Leadership in Government and Board of Directors should be well informed on their Leadership roles, actions, principles and guidelines.

Take the word business and look at the word Leadership in business and think.  When a business becomes everybody’s business it soon becomes nobody’s business. This I said before is the evolving structure of society and without the support of formal Leadership and governance, society is going to become wild and out of control. The onus is on Government, Institutions, Society and Communities to work in partnership for a just and equitable Leadership. We can’t be all involved in Leadership we need followers to help.  Leadership is usually looked at in the light of, governance, community or business and seldom looked at when it comes to our personal way of life.  At some stage of our lives we need Leadership be it in childhood, in adolescence, as adults or in old age.  At some stage in life we shown leadership to others. Leadership should be look at in the light of Glass half full not half empty. Leadership is the Glass; followers are the contents with the option of filling the Glass creating the need for more Glasses.

Leadership should not be a one stop position in any activity. When one person takes on the role of Leadership they use their knowledge to influence and empower the Leadership opportunities of others. However, most people become diminished and lazy and leave all to the Leadership, thus creating delay in progress.  Leadership isn’t just a position that one is appointed to, it’s a skill and a tool you can continually cultivate and use to create lasting change. The importance of Leadership has many aspects in people’s life. It is a skill which can be used in relationships and personal improvement.

Leadership is about creating and sustaining positivity in one’s life and the lives of the people around them. In life we take on Leadership roles without even knowing. Everyone can become a leader. However, Leadership when we look at the word there are two words in one, Leader and Ship. Leadership, simply leading the ship. Leadership is as natural as a ship in water, on a mission, on the sea, being lead one way or the other, up and down, in and out, in good times and in bad. Leadership, comes from the captain.

When it comes to previous Congregation topics, Community and Society, Leadership is starting to bring the image together, of a struggling (developing) country that is at a crossroads especially in Rural Ireland. Open to correction, but this thinking is based on the issues and problems of Crime, the inadequate Health services, strain on teaching, unaffordability of Homes and the rising cost of Living.  Leadership was a lot of the time provided by the Garda who lived in the Garda Station, the G.P who lived and practiced in many rural villages, the Teachers who lived locally, the Priest who lived in the Priest house beside the Church. They had knowledge and with knowledge comes power, maybe too much at times. However, today in Rural Ireland these pillars are fragmenting or lost in some areas leaving a void to be filled in Leadership and services. The makings of other discussions.

To conclude, I have become a great believer in definitions, in asking and the purpose. When definitions and purposes of an action are known, it is much easier to understand Leadership. To help people understand Leadership better, a simple definition along with key principles should be provided.  This could help resolve a lot of confusion and resentment.

Leadership should not be looked at or used for individual, personal power control but in the way of empowering others to improve on needs. Leadership needs to be supported by followers. More talking can help Leadership actions. Leaving the Leadership role to one person can be helpful in some areas of life. However, over load, over burden and isolation can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of Leadership.

After all that waffle about Leadership, the Followers must not be forgotten. Because without Followers there would be no need for Leadership. A balance is needed between Leadership and Followers. At the end of the day as a follower, if I didn’t write something the Leadership involved with Congregation would not let me join. Without the Leadership of someone, very little progress or action will happen. So hats off to Leadership, well done and keep up the good work.  It takes a genius to simplify things, but it doesn’t take a genius to complicate things. Over thinking and over writing can reduce Leadership so I will stop now.

Seize the day… but save the Hooch! #38 #cong21


The silver screen is the gold standard when it comes to lessons in leadership.

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About Brian Mac Intyre

Brian Mac Intyre is a public servant at the Department of Justice. He spent almost (gulp!) three decades as a print and broadcast journalist working for major employers on both sides of the Atlantic up until August of this year. During this time he went back to college in 2014 to get an MA in Screenwriting, which made him fall in love with stories all over again.

Contacting Brian Mac Intyre

You can connect with Brian on LinkedIn.

By Brian Mac Intyre

It was the summer of ’89. I had my dream part-time job, which was working in a cinema, courtesy of my J1 visa – and for a pop culture junkie, you can’t do much better than that.

A few movies made quite an impression on me that year at the Loews Cineplex, Copley Plaza in Boston. Copley Plaza was what the Americans call a “tony” shopping mall…  so posh that there was even a swanky hotel inside it.

Sadly the cinema is no longer there, as I found out on my first visit back to Boston a quarter century later in 2014. But the leadership lessons I learned from those three months are still imprinted on my memory.

That’s because few mediums rival cinema in terms of imparting life lessons to millions around the world. Speaking of lessons, I remember clearly the rollercoaster of emotions that was Dead Poets Society.

“O Captain! My Captain!” is one of the most oft-quoted movies lines ever, sometimes even uttered by characters in other TV shows and films through the years. And if a captain isn’t a leader, then, well, you know the rest.

The second most famous quote is, of course, that old reliable from Latin class. Carpe diem is great advice for any leader to give to their troops.

English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) is a truly transformational leader as he uses the power of poetry to embolden the teenage boys under his tutelage, ending in that famous scene where they clamber up on top of their desks to salute him. And it’s also a fitting tribute to the wondrous talents of Williams himself.


The next film I saw that summer was a sleeper of sorts, but it awakened me to the power of sports movies.

Most films in that genre are about underdogs triumphing against all the odds. But when you add magic realism to the mix, you get Field of Dreams.

At the start of it, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice imploring him: “If you build it, he will come.”

He keeps on hearing voices and so he seeks out reclusive author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) for help in interpreting what he’s supposed to do.

At one point, Ray asks Terence what he wants. To which Mann replies: “I want them (his loyal readers) to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves.”

Isn’t that what any true leader wants from their followers?

(As it turns out, Ray was just wondering what Terence wanted to order from a hot dog stand!)

Ray himself displays leadership qualities when he goes with his gut instinct and builds a baseball diamond in his cornfields.

Later on in the film, the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other Chicago White Sox players appear on his diamond, decades after they were banned from the game for throwing the World Series in 1919.

Ray risks everything, even his family farm, to fulfill his vision. And the payoff is, well, you’ll just have to watch.

Lastly, an inadvertent lesson in leadership comes from Tom Hanks. He starred in Turner and Hooch, a tale about a police detective who adopts a dog to find a killer.

Even though it was a hit at the box office that summer.  Moviegoers had a bone to pick with Hanks about the movie’s controversial ending.

“I have to make a confession: I was the main proponent of killing Hooch,” he told BBC Radio 5.

“It was a Disney movie and when we were putting it together I stood up at a table and pounded my fist and said, in the grand Disney tradition of Old Yeller, ‘Hooch must die…’. And so they killed Hooch. We killed Hooch and we never should have. We should have, I guess, kept that doggy alive, so we wouldn’t have made the children cry.”

Admitting your mistakes – another great example of true leadership.

#leadershit #37 #cong21


Leadership is often characterised as a superior, controlling heroic act, where performance management of others is key. I don’t like that.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. It’s only natural that individuals are controlling and power hungry, so we must fight it (and forgive it);
  2. ‘Deliverology’ is a busted flush;
  3. Leaders must respect workers as their equals;
  4. Leaders should serve not command.

About Richard Millwood

I am an educational designer, having made everything from apps to universities. I am now finding fulfilment with families in rural places all over Ireland, trying to encourage an interest in creative computing. The job is as a Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin tied to an SFI ‘Discover’ project to design and develop workshops which encourage parents to see computing as a fulfilling choice for their children’s future.

Contacting Richard Millwood

You can see Richard’s work on his website, connect with him on Twitter or send him an email

By Richard Millwood

I’ll never forget what the late and much missed Bianca Ni Ghrógáin said about rewards for the children in her primary classroom. She reported that the reward most sought-after was to be allowed to take the role of class teacher for 5 minutes. This opportunity to take power was valued more highly than any other childish delights on offer.

Perhaps this points to a natural desire to be in charge, for selfish reasons or perhaps to enjoy the delight of ‘zest’.

The selfishness can arise from a desire to be seen as important, to fulfil self-belief in one’s competence or to occupy a position of power over others to get things done right, as you see it.

‘Zest’, in John Heron’s language, is a delight which arouses “The emotions involved in the fulfilment of free choice and effective action” including “relish, gusto, exhilaration, achievement and work satisfaction.” Such delight is often only experienced in the playground, unlike the classroom, where activity is regulated, sometimes meaningless, not always completed, and choices are constrained to those the teacher offers.

The key elements here are the privileges of being in charge as a leader: ‘free choice’ of what is to be done and ‘effective action’ – the free choice converted into real world activity.

I first started using tag #leadershit at a conference in New Zealand, where the presenter earnestly spoke about three ships – leadership, relationship, partnership. I called them ‘the three shits’ in a moment of boredom, as the speaker sanctimoniously pronounced each syllable of the bullet points on slides. By the time they were explained, I had read them several times and readily digested them as terms that were virtuous, but individualistic in their outlook. This tendency to think about the individual is only natural in such talk, and to some extent reasonable, but so often falls short on analysis of a wider team seen as equals, rather than as troops to follow orders.

My curmudgeonly reaction to such well-meaning discussion arises from the failed leadership I had suffered so often in the varied work-places I have experienced, but particularly higher education. I am strongly influenced by the Cybernetic systems thinking I was exposed to a decade ago when working in the Institute for Educational Cybernetics at the University of Bolton. In that work we applied the ideas of feedback loop, variety, amplification and attenuation to try and understand how an educational institution operates, in order to invent improvements. Our particular interest was to find ways to allow undergraduates and masters students to nurture their ‘zest’ and support their ‘interest’ (another of Heron’s delights) in a work-focussed online degree programme. The challenge to leadership (of the course) is that every student may be studying topics unique to their context, job and workplace. You could say it was like a PhD for undergraduates. The feedback loop in particular, whether to drive learning or to improve teaching performance was strong.

At the same time, I was strongly aware of the leadership mantra of ‘deliverology’ the ideas developed by Barber for Blair back around 2000. The trouble was that instead of helping to focus, every aspect of performance became a priority, and “when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority”. The micro-management of every aspect of performance lead to much inauthentic labour and the situation was exacerbated by increasing oversight to the point of breakdown.

For example, in England, teacher education suffers this fate. At one point it had ‘quality assurance’ processes thrust on its long suffering lecturers from three directions: internal university quality assurance, the government’s higher education authority (HEA) and the government’s schools authority (OFSTED). Hardly any time to work, too busy explaining what targets the work might achieve…

The missing approach, distrusted by successive governments, was how to respect, nurture and trust professionalism in educators (and students) to achieve quality. This approach casts leadership in a service role, supporting and empowering professionals to do their job well. John Seddon explained how effective such an approach could be, when describing how a council repair worker could often be sent to do a job (to fix a tap), find that the problem belonged in another domain (electrician needed), and withdrew having wasted everyone’s time. This was transformed into a more effective operation by establishing a practice where the worker on encountering such a difficulty could call on management to send the right person or, if skilled, tackle it themselves, including the delivery of parts required.

How radical, to see your boss as someone who will help you fulfil the task!

The Naked Truth: The Global Leadership Vacuum laid bare at COP26 #36 #cong21


In a world, where leaders are too eager to compromise, Greta Thunberg moves from being, the one they found so easy to ridicule, to the one who ridicules them. To balance our leader’s acceptance of the corporate demand to return to business as usual, we need to send an equally loud and singular message that our future is not for sale, and that we wont fall for any more of what she calls their ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. COP 26 was a pantomime where the leaders showed just how weak they really are
  2. It takes great soundbites to lead in a world with a short attention span
  3. The global solidarity stemming from our shared covid experience must not be wasted
  4. People power will come from being more consistent as voters and consumers

About Damian Costello

Over lockdown, I downed tools as a consultant. I stopped dead. After 30 years I could no longer justify using my expertise in disruption to help global corporations avoid being disrupted. I joined a global voluntary group called Pivot Projects to help accelerate a global societal ‘Pivot’ to a fairer, more democratic, more environmentally sustainable society.

For years I had missed the hypocrisy, that all my Congregations were about me predicting and championing the very societal change that my work was delaying.

I will soon be in a position to share the next phase in my career, one where I will have the power to make real progress on my reinvigorated mission to replace the current ‘illness management industry’ with a proper preventative healthcare system.

Maybe now I’ll give myself a better answer to the predictable question from twenty or thirty years in the future ‘What did you do Granddad when you realised the world was going to shit?’

Contacting Damian Costello

You can connect with Damian on LinkedIn

By Damian Costello

During the first two weeks of November 2021 the world’s so-called ‘leaders’ entertained each other in the Blue Zone in Glasgow for COP26, the UN’s global climate change conference. Hopes were high that this one was going to achieve the hard commitments needed to keep the world’s average temperature under the Paris Agreement’s target of 1.5 degrees above preindustrial global temperature levels. And did it? Not even close. Experts predict that if countries were to stick to what they promise in the Glasgow Climate Pact, we would be lucky to keep climate change below a catastrophic 2.4 degrees. Glasgow 2021 seems to be the COP where our leaders gave up on pretending that they are even trying.

I attended this pantomime with ten colleagues from a voluntary global group called Pivot Projects, which came together virtually during the first Covid lockdowns in March 2020. We were at COP to launch a book called “The Pivot” for which my friend Steve Hamm has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. As the somewhat cynical leader of the group’s economics and politics work stream, even I didn’t expect things to be as bad as they turned out to be.

The event didn’t start off well for the hosts, the British Government led by one-time climate denier, Boris Johnson. Plans to take full PR advantage of the global spotlight were marred by a corruption scandal in Johnson’s cabinet and his ham-fisted attempt to sweep it under the carpet. Later in the week we found out that over 500 fossil fuel executives had been invited into the exclusive Blue Zone where they would’ve had unfettered access to global leaders, not that they needed any more access. While the corrupt mingled with their corrupters, many attendees lamented the lack of representation or access to leaders, afforded to younger people, or to indigenous voices from the communities already decimated by climate change.

Out on the streets Greta Thunberg repeated her new sound bite “No more Blah, Blah, Blah”. I suspect that looking back we will see it as having the same resonance as “Yes, we can” or “Make America great again” because it seemed to land a serious blow to those in their ivory towers. Unlike her previous meme “how dare you”, the sincerity of which our cynical world was only too ready to ridicule, this time round it was the teenager who was ridiculing the establishment. I couldn’t help but feel, watching the phrase take off on placards, in coffee shops and in railway carriages over the following few days, that we were witnessing an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment. The phrase highlights that the untrustworthiness of the global establishment, both political and commercial, is something to be laughed at, rather than feared. Those in power only have it because we give it to them as citizens. Our leader’s corporate masters have power because as consumers we reward them for their lies. Maybe, if a child can show us that they are to be reviled rather than exalted, we will be able to summon the courage to challenge them more effectively.

COP26 suggests that global leaders are at best diplomats, toothless negotiators trying to strike a deal between the commercial giants in the Blue Zone and the children on the streets. They seem to be building a case for the mass acceptance of 2.4 degrees as a revised target. They feign concern on the global stage but fight against the required changes when they return home. Our leaders just want to get back to business as usual and to make sure that whatever they do on climate change doesn’t impact corporate profitability. They will continue to do so, until we stop allowing them to divide us. They ignored the fact that COVID-19 gave people all over the world a new sense of solidarity, but we now need to follow that up with consistency in the ballot box and in our shopping carts. We need to shout louder if we are to drown out the voices of their corporate lobbyists. We need them to believe us when we say we will no longer be satisfied with their ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’.

COP 26 turned out to be a PR disaster for the powers that be, but if it ushers in the final act of the current exploitative system, then I will be glad to say that I was there. There, when the world realised just how stupid it was to allow itself to be led by such small minded and greedy men.

GOODBYE, CEO! #35 #cong21


In the next 3-5years many professionals and consultancies will join together to form ‘Group Consultancies’. These will be led by a shared, rotating group of three senior managers called a ‘Triune’.
The CEO’s days are numbered….

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Driven by the Climate Crisis, the overarching focus will be SUSTAINABILITY.
  2. Companies and organisations will look to ‘GROUP CONSULTANCIES’ for help.
  4. ‘Group Consultancies’ will be led by a shared, rotating group of 3 senior managers, called a ‘TRIUNE’.

About Alec Taylor

  • European citizen, born in Dublin, carry an Irish passport. Proud of all three.
  • Consultant, coach, and trainer in Communication Skills & Creativity.
  • 11 years in Radio (Germany) and TV (London) and Corporate Video.
  • Own consultancy company since 1985, in London, Vienna, and Dublin
  • Speak English and German

Contacting Alec Taylor

You can see Alec’s work on his website or reach him by email.

By Alec Taylor


A friend of mine in Public Relations in Dublin (with clients across technology, finance and STEM) challenged me to outline what developments are likely to take place in the next 3-5 years which will affect us all as individual professionals and consultancies (PR, Marketing, Risk Management, Quality Management, Advertising, Executive Search, Accountancy and Tax, Legal Affairs, IT/Digital Transformation, Management Consultancy, HR and Training, etc.).

My prediction is that – driven by the Climate Crisis – we will see the emergence of ‘Consultancy Groups’. Their overarching focus will be ’Sustainability’ but they will incorporate many of the above-mentioned professionals as ’senior partners’ – maintaining their specialisms.

They will work in close collaboration with each other while acknowledging the primacy of ‘Sustainability’.

This means that client companies can approach a Consultancy Group – let’s call them “ONE PLANET” – and receive an assessment of what they need to do to ensure that their products and/or services meet present and future standards of Sustainability.
This ‘holistic’ Sustainability Assessment will include inputs from the ’senior partners’ (the relevant professionals).

One assessment, one fee.


To get the ball rolling, here is an example of a consultancy developing in the manner I predict: Blurred London The professional ’silos’ are beginning to topple….

In the case of existing global consultancies, the primacy of Sustainability is very visible:

Did you notice that at BLURRED there is a ‘Senior Team’ of four founders with a separate Managing Director? My prediction is that this arrangement will evolve into a ‘shared, rotating Leadership’ model.

There will be a ‘triune’ (in Roman times, a triumvirate) to provide leadership. A group of three senior executives who take it in turns to chair the triune. They will represent the following dimensions of the company or organisation:

1. A ‘CSO’ responsible for Sustainability (overall business strategy, focussing on environmental and human impact)
2. A ‘CFO’ responsible for Finance and business performance
3. A ‘CIO’ responsible for IT and the Digital Transformation

Their decisions will require a simple majority (2 to 1). The rotating chair of the triune will change every six months, in a continuing cycle.

The two new concepts will function alongside each other as follows: drawn from the pool of ‘senior partners’ (former freelance professionals/consultancies), “ONE PLANET” will be run by a shared, rotating triune. Watch this space….

Alec Taylor
November, 2021

Fear, Loathing and Limbic Hijacking #34 #cong21


Where we are going is a not nice, it is not safe; where we’re going isn’t going to be fun. We may have finally realised that the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Face & embrace your fear
  2. Learn how to learn
  3. Make sense and orient yourself
  4. Don’t wait until it’s too late

About Gar Mac Críosta

Dad, Architect, Socio-technologist, Dog owner & Walker, Tinkerer, Connecting People & Ideas, Certain I’m Uncertain that Continuously Curious

Contacting Gar Mac Críosta

You can connect with Gar on LinkedIn.

By Gar Mac Críosta

Litany Against Fear

“I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Dune, Frank Herbert

Where we are going is a not nice, it is not safe; where we’re going isn’t going to be fun. We may have finally realised that the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure. But soon enough we will forget, we will lapse comfortably, wrapped in the warm blankets of certainty on cushions of prediction. But the blankets are now threadbare and the cushions are empty.

The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”

– Socrates

We’ve built a world based on the value of certainty the value of knowledge. The idea that we must know things to have value. Those in leadership positions suffer most from this, the expectation is clear your worth is in your knowledge. And never more so that in the middle of this pandemic.

What happens when we don’t know, when we can’t know, when unexpected events happen and unpredictable circumstances emerge?

We’ve found ways of hiding when things don’t work, enter big transformation programs. When we are stuck we hire some consultants (the bigger the better). We reorganise/transform; the mistakes are consigned to the past. Nearly all of this falls into the Theatre of Knowing. We must appear to know what to do and if in doubt we hire others who must know what to do. The strategies we generate are derivative. As higher primates we have learned how to mimic each other; the mimicry perpetuates the myth that we know. Ideas are constrained onto what fits on a PowerPoint slide (16:9 to give it that widescreen pizzazz), symmetry is important, things are neat and organised. When the deck is ready we are done, we get the satisfaction that comes with completion even though in reality nothing has even started.

We do this mostly because it’s safer and it’s cognitively easier. Dealing with uncertainty is expensive — socially, emotionally, politically and most of all cognitively.

I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.

— Hunter S. Thompson

But how else could it be? The other road is full of uncertainties and uncertainty causes unease & unrest. Fear grows with uncertainty, fear for the future, fear for my position, fear for my status, fear for my safety. It so much easier to wallow in the analgesia of a well crafted PowerPoint deck delivered in a reassuring tone by the loathsome Certainty Merchants. The wise grey heads who seen it all before…..

They seduce us into believing that we live in an ordered world even the unexpected is expected. A whole generation of leaders have been limbically hijacked; they fear the consequences of stepping into the unknown.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

— Hunter S. Thompson

We must develop the ability to smell the wind and orient ourselves, making sense of where we are. We can’t always live in an orderly predictable paradise. We can’t keep selling this to others and we have to stop believing in our and others ability to predict, it’s more dangerous now than ever.

But the truth is that we should embrace the lesson in the Litany Against Fear and face our fear of uncertainty, accept that we don’t know and we can’t know. Be curious, be puzzled, LEARN. We need to (re)learn how to learn. The future we’re going to could be fun but it’s unlikely to be safe.

A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

— Hunter S. Thompson

A Life of Bosses and Bossing – Leadership Lessons #33 #cong21


Sometime the best leadership lessons come from observing how your past bosses treated you and how you responded as a leader in different environments.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership changes according to different environments and challenges
  2. You can have multiple leadership styles
  3. You must respond to what achieves the best outcome
  4. Followers can dictate your leadership style

About Billy Kennedy

Retired claims inspector and mechanic.  Proud father and grandfather.  Late adopter of technology and ever curious mind.

Contacting Billy Kennedy

Apparently I am on lots of social media platforms courtesy of my family but probably best to email me.

You might also find me on TikTok as the TikTok Grandad.

By Billy Kennedy

Having spent over 50 years in the workforce I have always been interested in how my own leadership style and that of my different bosses were influenced by a range of internal factors (mainly personality driven) and external actors.  Almost a nature nurture debate but with a heavy hand of influence from culture, circumstance and organisational structure.  Let me walk you through some of the positions I held and my observations on leadership.

At 14 years old, as an agri-mechanic apprentice I saw at once that one or two of the tradesmen had the ability to pass on the information they had to us eager learners.  This was natural not learned leadership.  Their instinctive communication abilities and willingness to share meant they earned our loyalty and brought through talent.  Due to their guidance I achieved the silver medal in Garage Practice in Ireland.

Leadership Lessons

  • Communication is crucial
  • True leaders nurture talent
  • Natural leaders are a magnet for followers

At 21 I was offered a job managing a large city centre car garage.  I had a staff of 15-20 which without any formal managerial or leadership training was daunting.  However at that youthful age, full of optimism and can do attitude I gave it two years but Ireland at that time treasured permanent and pensionable jobs rather than commercially driven entrepreneurial jobs.

Leadership Lessons

  • Overtly commercial environment can clash with internal leadership ethos
  • Motivated by money and fear instructions were followed by staff
  • Management and leadership are vastly different worlds

At 23 I joined Dublin Corporation (the corpo) as a fitter and in time was promoted to foreman with 10-15 staff in my section.  We were responsible for maintaining diesel engines for heavy trucks and machines – a tough working environment.  This cultivated a very unique culture.  Yes instructions and work orders were implemented but without their respect all sorts of spanners (if you forgive the pun) could be thrown into the works.  Leaders or more correctly managerial edicts from the office rarely had the same impact of being in the trenches or more accurately covered in oil in the mechanic sumps.

Leadership Lessons

  • Leading by doing in some environments is essential
  • Culture and follower/staff influence can dictate leadership styles
  • ‘One of the Lads’ and ‘Pragmatic’ Leadership should be branded as a type of leadership
  • Leadership stripes earned elsewhere can leap frog promotion

At age 30 I was promoted to inspector in the handling of claims for damage to machines or property under what was known at the time as the ‘Criminal Injuries Act’ or ‘Malicious Damage Claims’.  Strange as it might appear now Dublin Corporation would pay for criminal damage cause to property, which all had to be checked, verified and challenged if necessary.  As such I had to learn to work alone, becoming my own boss. This job eventually changed to investigating Public Liability claims under the Irish Public Bodies Institute and the internal audit section of Dublin Corporation.  In this role I witness a good few different bosses with different leadership styles.  However what they all had in common was they needed the inspectors (I was one of many) to be able to work autonomously and be able to make decisions (some of which has very big financial implications).  They also had to guide teams of very senior legal experts.   This translated itself in building deep relationships, establishing trust and supporting rather than dictating and micro-managing.  Indeed with my last ‘boss’ he made it clear he would not second guess decisions, valued judgement and was completely task orientated – i.e. he did not care how we spent our time as he had faith that the job would be done to our best ability.

Leadership Lessons

  • Jobs that demand antimonious decision making need inspiring, trust building, lead by example and hands off leaders
  • Trust builds loyalty which leads to more productivity
  • Unbossed Leadership has many past incarnations
  • Relationships can be fragile and trust once broken can be hard to revive

From 1962 to 2003 I served in the Civil Defence as a volunteer and officer eventually reaching the rank of commander.  In this capacity I was called up in 1972 to help with a crisis that is largely forgotten today.  In one week alone over 48,000 refugees left northern Ireland due to the increasing troubles and were housed in camps outside Dublin.  This created a large logistical challenge and I found myself in charge of all transport, which not only covered Civil Defence vehicles but also the Order of Malta and Red Cross.  This was a military environment.  Orders were expected to be carried out but had to be explicit with no room for interpretation.  Relationships were still important but trumped by chain of command and hierarchy, with each level (rank) knowing their place.

Leadership Lessons

  • In this world instructions were given with the full belief they would be implemented and followed – in effect orders.